BESHALACH: 31. The house of Israel named it manna, and
it was like coriander seed, [it was] white, and it tasted like a wafer with
honey. 32. Moses said, This is the thing that the Lord commanded: Let one
omerful of it be preserved for your generations, in order that they see the
bread that I fed you in the desert when I took you out of the land of
HAFTORAH: a spoil of
dyed garments to Sisera, a spoil of dyed garments of embroidery;
TALMUD SOTAH - Daf 42: Mashuach Milchamah (Anointed for War)
GENERATIONS FROM ADAM TO THE LAST KING OF JUDAH: Jehoash
THE DESERT: They journeyed from the mountains of Abarim and camped in the
plains of Moab by the Jordan at Jericho.
They camped along the Jordan from Beth jeshimoth to Abel shittim, in the
plains of Moab.
Week 42 is the last week of Tammuz, and is the first of the three weeks of mourning over the
destruction of the Temple. The Torah section for this week describes the mannah, which would be received in different forms (like a seed, a dough, or a finished bread) depending on one's spiritual status. For those not completely righteous, the mannah was, in and of itself, a call for repentance.
The verse also speaks of how the mannah was to be preserved for generations. Rashi explains that it was preserved specifically for
the times of Jeremiah and the destruction of the Temple. The Haftorah verses speak of the enemy
dividing spoils. When the walls of Jerusalem were breached, our people
defeated, and the Temple destroyed, the enemy took its spoils. The "dyed garments" mentioned are reminiscent of the clothes worn by the Kohen Gadol in the Temple.
Daf Mem Beit (Folio 42) of Sotah continues to
speak of the negative trait of flattery. It then starts a new chapter on the
laws of the Mashuach Milchamah, the Kohen that is anointed for war. Mashuach comes from the same root as the
word Mashiach. The Daf speaks of how the Kohen tells the
people that the war is not one against their brethren. If they are taken
captive, the enemy will not have mercy on them. And so it was during the
destruction of the Temple. These three weeks are also connected to Mashiach, as the birth of Mashiach takes place on Tisha B’Av.
After Athaliah is removed and killed, she
is replaced by the next king, Jehoash, who is still a boy at the time. Jehoash is
tutored and counseled by the righteous Kohen,
Yehoiadah. His counterparts in the Kingdom of Israel are Yehu (26 years) and
Jehoahaz (14 years). While Yehoiadah was alive, Jehoash faithfully served G-d.
However, after Yehoiadah’s death, Jehoash turned to idols. Yehoiadah’s son, the
prophet Zachariah, condemned Jehoash’s behavior, and Jehoash had him killed while he was in
the Temple. Zechariah was stoned to death on Yom Kippur itself! The
blood us this holy prophet and kohen would
not be forgiven. Not only is Jehoash severely punished, as Syrians overrun and
sack most of the country, but when the Temple is destroyed, the fate of
Zachariah is brought up once again:
Our Sages say that when Nebuzaradan entered the Temple
he found the blood of Zechariah seething. He asked the Jews what this
phenomenon meant, and they attempted to conceal the scandal, but he threatened
to comb their flesh with iron combs. So they told him the truth: "There
was a prophet among us who chastised us, and we killed him. For many years now
his blood has not rested."
Nebuzaradan said, "I will appease him." He
then killed the members of the Great and Small Sanhedrins, then he killed
youths and maidens, and then school-children. Altogether, he killed 940,000
people. Still the blood continued to boil, whereupon Nebuzaradan cried:
"Zechariah, Zechariah! I have slain the best of them; do you want all of them
destroyed?" At last the blood sank into the ground (Talmud, Gittin 57b).
Jehoash therefore represents both sides
of Jewish behavior towards the Temple. On the one hand, in his early years, he
behaves with exemplary piousness and repairs it. Yet, in his later years, he
has bad influences and acts with such disrespect and blasphemy that his acts
are a significant factor in its destruction. The name Jehoash apparently means “fire
of G-d” - fire can be used for the good or for the bad. In Jehoash’s life, it
appears to have been used for both.
In the forty-second week, the Jews
journey from the mountains of Abarim and camp in the plains of Moab by the
Jordan at Jericho. They camp along the
Jordan from Beth Yeshimoth up until Abel shittim, in the plains of Moab. The
plains of Moab in Hebrew is Arvot Moav,
which, as Rabbi Jacobson explains, has dual meaning. Arvot comes from the word erev,
night, as well as arev,
mixture/confusion, and points to the
most difficult part of the 42-part journey in the desert. The 42nd week
of the year is also often a very difficult week, part of the three weeks of
mourning, as explained above. However, Arev
also means sweet, and as mentioned before, teshuvah
can transform these harsh days into sweet ones.
Rabbi Jacobson states that
“Jordan-Jericho” (Yarden Yerichoh) is
a reference to Mashiach. Again, we
are approaching the birth of Mashiach on
the ninth of Av. The crossing of the
Jordan represents finally leaving the wandering of the desert and entering into
the Land of Israel. This means also leaving the more spiritual existence of the
times of the desert and engaging more fully in the physical world. This is also
the meaning of Beth Yeshimoth, which comes from the word “wasteland,” yeshimon, and Abel Shitim, which Rabbi
Jacobson translates as desolate plains, based on the Ramban.
Shitim also means mourning (due to)
follies, such as the mourning we undergo during this time of the year. This is
the folly of impurity, as the Talmud in Sotah
states that a person does not sin unless a spirit of folly enters him/her. The
Rebbe Rayatz also explains that there
is such a thing as a positive spirit of folly, Shtus d’Kedushah (“folly of holiness”). (See Maamar Bati LeGani). Such folly will bring about a “mourning”
of the yetzer harah, which will then
disappear from this world forever. This all depends on Arvoth Moav, transforming the darkness that comes from Av into light.
The personal journey for this week is to
internalize the heights of spirituality we attain from teshuvah, and now focus on engaging the physical world, effectively
“conquering the Land,” and elevating through the spirit of holy folly and the
spark of Mashiach that each of us has