Sunday, October 27, 2019
Sunday, October 20, 2019
On the tenth week, the Bat reiterates G-d’s words, asking that His people be comforted. (Isaiah 40:1) In this week, we fully enter into the month of Kislev, which is represented by the tribe of Benjamin. Benjamin is known for its ability to preserve Jewish values for future generations and for its great capacity for self-sacrifice. The Bat has the ability to see in the dark, an important trait in this month of long and cold nights. Yet it is also on this month, during Chanukah, that we feel that G-d does indeed comfort us. On Chanukah, the Jews defeat the spiritual darkness of the Greeks, and the light of the Temple is restored.
In Pirkei Avot, Rabbi Shimon states: "Be careful with the reading of the Shemah and with prayer. When you pray, do not act as if this were routine, but rather a plea for mercy and supplication before G-d… Do not be evil in your own eyes." The Shemah is the greatest expression of monotheism and of the acceptance by the Jewish people of G-d as One, and as the King of the Universe. Similarly, the prayer shows our intimacy with our Creator. These concepts are exactly what the Greeks wanted to destroy. They had a problem with the people’s monotheism. They even accepted the concept of a Cosmos - cold and indifferent to human behavior - but not of a G-d that was a Merciful Father and King.
For Rabbi Shimon, in order to follow a righteous path, it is very important to see what lies ahead, and to avoid not paying back loans. He states that one who borrows from his friend is as if he borrows from G-d. To be able to see what is about to happen (literally, “seeing what is being born”) is one of the Talmudic definitions of being truly wise, and achieving Chochmah. The Greeks were known for their wisdom. However, wisdom it and of itself, is not sufficient. Wisdom must be tied to the ethics of monotheism and to a firm relationship with a Merciful G-d. Not paying back loans, for example, is not only unethical, it is a rejection of the great mercy someone had towards us, an ultimate reflection of G-d’s mercy. Giving interest-free loans to our neighbors is a Divine commandment from the Torah.
The sefirah combination for this week is tiferet shebegevurah: beauty and balance within strength and discipline. As explained above, tiferet also is known as rachamim, mercy. While we are more distanced from Tishrei, we still remember the beauty of our Torah, we ask Hashem for mercy, in order for us to maintain our strong our dedication to the spiritual resolutions we had made on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
An important teaching of self-improvement to be drawn from the words of the Bat is to always pray for mercy, and to remember to support our fellow, especially the needy and the oppressed.
 Ryzman, pp. 64, 232.
[Gematria Thought: The number ten represents a complete unit, an intensification of the concept of unity reflected in the number one. Ten represents the Ten Commandments, the ten sefirot, as well as the ten Divine expressions. In Pirkei Avot, ten is also associated with mercy. G-d waited ten generations from Adam to Noah before punishing humanity. The generations after Noah also sinned, and G-d also mercifully waited ten generations from Noah to Abraham, who then began the process of returning humanity back to the belief in One G-d.
 Pirkei Avot, 5:1.
 Pirkei Avot, 5:2-6]
Posted by Kahane at 11:11 AM
Sunday, October 13, 2019
Sunday, October 6, 2019
During the twelfth week, it is the turn of the raven to exclaim with great humility that it is G-d that provides prey when its young roam in search of food. (Job 38:41) This is the week of Yud Tes Kislev, known as the Rosh Hashanah of Chassidism, the day in which the Alter Rebbe was released from prison and the yahrzeit of the Maggid of Mezeritch.
After being falsely accused of treason by the enemies of Chassidism, to the point of being threatened with the death penalty, the Alter Rebbe, through the help of G-d, emerged victorious. The release of the Alter Rebbe on Yud Tes Kislev directly led to a new phase in the history of Chabad philosophy. The Alter Rebbe saw it as not only a vindication of his work in earthly courts, but in the Heavenly Court as well. The Alter Rebbe became much more open and expansive in his teachings.
The redoubled efforts to spread the Alter Rebbe’s teachings, celebrated this week, brought Chassidism’s warmth and love for Judaism into the coldest and most indifferent part of the Jew: the intellect. Geographically, the capital of "intellectual Judaism” was in Vilna, Lithuania, where the Alter Rebbe was sent as an emissary.
Chassidism has the power to uplift even the animals that are the most distant from Hashem. The raven was literally kicked out of Noah's Ark for not obeying its rule of celibacy. The raven is also known for its cruelty and indifference to its offspring. However, even the raven can redeem itself. When Elijah the Prophet fled from the King Ahab and his evil wife, G-d determined that precisely the raven, which does not even provide for its own young, should bring food to Elijah.
At the time Elijah ran away, he was overcome by despair and complained to G-d about the rebellious state of the Jewish people. G-d sought to teach Elijah that, like the raven, we all have the potential for warmth and good; it just needs to be revealed.
Interestingly, the very word for raven in Hebrew, orev, reveals that potential. Orev is related to the word arev, which, as explained in Week 3, means “responsible for the other,” as well as “sweet” and “mixed together” as in the saying, Kol Israel Arevim Zeh LaZeh, which means that “all of Israel is responsible for (sweet to and mixed together with) one another.” This saying also encompasses practically the entire basis of Chassidism and the Torah: to love your fellow as yourself.
The number twelve represents the twelve tribes of Israel. Despite our differences, and setbacks, we all are mixed together and responsible for one another and sweet to one another. Upon his deathbed, Jacob was very concerned about the differences among the different tribes. The Talmud teaches that his twelve sons responded to his concern by calling out in unison: “Listen O Israel (a reference to Jacob), Hashem is our G-d, Hashem is One.”
In Pirkei Avot, Rabbi Tarfon reminds us that "the day is short, the work is plenty, the workers are lazy, the reward is great, and the owner insists [urges]." (II: 15) There is also a strong connection between the New Year of Chassidism and the teaching of Rabbi Tarfon. Chassidism came to light up a fire in order to awaken those who were depressed and spiritually asleep. It was like an alarm clock, a spiritual wake-up call: time is short, now is the time to serve G-d!
In this week, the sefirah combination results in hod shebegevurah. This week, we are inspired by the Alter Rebbe, who after facing the gevurah of incarceration, reveals even more the hidden secrets of the Torah through the teachings of the Chabad Chassidism. The sefirah of hod is connected with the inner dimensions of the Torah, the Kabbalah, just as Lag Ba’Omer, which is hod shebehod. Lag Ba’Omer is the yahrzeit of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, who wrote down the seminal kabbalistic work, the Zohar.
A lesson for this week is that even the raven and its offspring recognize G-d’s kingship and the importance of requesting one’s sustenance directly from G-d. We inspire ourselves in the song of the raven, who knows that it is never alone - G-d is always by its side.
 Midrash Tanchuma, Noach
 1 Kings 17:2-7
 Talmud, Pesachim 56a
 Hayom Yom, 17th of Av, 79a
 Psalm 147:9
[Gematria Thought: The number twelve is also closely associated with Elijah the Prophet himself, “a man whose eyes have seen twelve generations." Bear in Hebrew, dov, has the gematria of twelve. The Tanach teaches us that before Eliyahu rose to Heaven, Elisha asked Elijah to bequeath to him twice Elijah’s own power. Shortly thereafter, Elisha purified the waters of a city, and was insulted by a group of youths. When Elisha responded to their insult, two bears immediately appeared and killed them.
Elijah is most likely the biblical figure most associated with the revelation of the hidden and mystical secrets of the Torah. Elijah’s own teacher, Achiah HaShiloni was also the teacher of the Ba’al Shem Tov. It is therefore quite appropriate that he should be connected to the week of Yud Tes Kislev, given that the Alter Rebbe, who was freed on Yud Tes Kislev, taught the kabbalistic secrets revealed by the Ba’al Shem Tov.
The number twelve is also linked to time: there are twelve months in the year, twelve halachic hours during the day, and twelve halachic hours during the night. In the Jewish calendar, a daytime halachic hour (shaah zmanit) is defined as 1/12 of the time it takes from sunrise to sunset. A nighttime shaah zmanit is 1/12 of the time between sunset and sunrise. The exact amount of time of each of these hours varies throughout the year. When the days are long, as in the summer, a daytime halachic hour is equivalent to more than sixty minutes. In the winter, when days are shorter, the daytime hour amounts to less than sixty minutes.
Posted by Kahane at 7:50 PM
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