Weekly Cycle

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The 52 Verses of Haazinu (and its Haftorah), Weeks and Torah Portions

Important dates taking place in week of year
Haazinu / Haftorah
Rosh Hashanah

Listen, O heavens, and I will speak! And let the earth hear the words of my mouth!
And David spoke to the Lord the words of this song, on the day that the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul;
Yom Kippur

My lesson will drip like rain; my word will flow like dew; like storm winds on vegetation and like raindrops on grass.
And he said, "The Lord is my rock and my fortress, and a rescuer to me.
Lech Lecha

When I call out the name of the Lord, ascribe greatness to our G-d.
G-d is my rock, under whom I take cover; My shield, and the horn of my salvation, my support, and my refuge; [He is] my savior Who saves me from violence.
Shemini Atzeret

The deeds of the [Mighty] Rock are perfect, for all His ways are just[ice]; a faithful G-d, without injustice He is righteous and upright.
With praise, I call to the Lord, for from my enemies I shall be saved.
Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan
Chayei Sarah

Destruction is not His; it is His children's defect you crooked and twisted generation.
For the pains of death have encompassed me; streams of scoundrels would affright me.
First Week of Cheshvan
(Potential 3rd Temple Holiday)

Is this how you repay the Lord, you disgraceful, unwise people?! Is He not your Father, your Master? He has made you and established you.
Bands of [those that shall inherit] the nether world have surrounded me; the snares of death confronted me
Second Week of Cheshvan
(3rd Temple)

Remember the days of old; reflect upon the years of [other] generations. Ask your father, and he will tell you; your elders, and they will inform you.
When I am in distress, I call upon the Lord, yes I call upon my G-d: and out of His abode He hears my voice, and my cry enters His ears.
Third Week of Cheshvan
(3rd Temple)

When the Most High gave nations their lot, when He separated the sons of man, He set up the boundaries of peoples according to the number of the children of Israel.
Then the earth shook and quaked, the [very] foundations of heaven did tremble; and they were shaken when he was angered.
Fourth Week of Chesvan or Rosh Chodesh Kislev
Because the Lord's portion is His people Jacob, the lot of His inheritance.
Smoke went up in His nostrils, and fire out of His mouth did devour; coals flamed forth from Him.
Rosh Chodesh Kislev or 1st week
He found them in a desert land, and in a desolate, howling wasteland. He encompassed them and bestowed understanding upon them; He protected them as the pupil of His eye.
And He bent the heavens and He came down; and thick darkness was under His feet.

Yud Kislev
As an eagle awakens its nest, hovering over its fledglings, it spreads its wings, taking them and carrying them on its pinions.
And He rode upon a cherub and did fly; He was seen upon the wings of the wind.
Yud Tet Kislev
[So] the Lord guided them alone, and there was no alien deity with Him.
And He fixed darkness about Him as booths (lit. Sukkot); gathering of waters, thick clouds of the skies.
He made them ride upon the high places of the earth, that they would eat the produce of the field. He let them suck honey from a rock, and oil from the mighty part of the crag.
From the brightness before Him flamed forth coals of fire.
Chanukah/Rosh Chodesh Tevet
The cream of cattle and the milk of sheep, with the fat of lambs and rams of Bashan and he goats, with kidneys of wheat, and it [the congregation of Israel] would drink the blood of grapes [which was] as the finest wine.
The Lord thundered from heaven; and the Most High gave forth His voice.
10th of Tevet
And Jeshurun became fat and rebelled; you grew fat, thick and rotund; [Israel] forsook the G-d Who made them, and spurned the [Mighty] Rock of their salvation. (Yeshurun became full of oil (from Chanukah);
And He sent out arrows and He scattered them, lightning and He discomfited them.
Third Week of Tevet
They provoked His zeal with alien worship; they made Him angry with abominations deeds. Positive Light: They were zealous for him against alien worship; they were angry for him against abominable deeds.
And the depths of the sea appeared; the foundations of the world were laid bare, by the rebuke of the Lord and the blast of the breath of His nostrils.
Fourth Week of Tevet
They sacrificed to demons, which have no power, deities they did not know, new things that only recently came, which your forefathers did not fear.
He sent from on high [and] He took me; He drew me out of many waters.

Rosh Chodesh Shvat
You forgot the [Mighty] Rock Who bore you; you forgot the G-d Who delivered you.
He delivered me from my mighty enemy; from them that hated me; for they were too powerful for me.
Yud Shvat
And the Lord saw this and became angry, provoked by His sons and daughters.
They confronted me on the day of my calamity; but the Lord was a support to me.
Tu B'Shvat
And He said, "I will hide My face from them. I will see what their end will be, for they are a generation of changes [reversals]; they are not [recognizable] as My children whom I have reared.
And He brought me forth into a wide place; He delivered me because He took delight in me.
Fourth Week of Shvat
Ki Tissah
They have provoked My jealousy with a non G-d, provoked My anger with their vanities. Thus, I will provoke their jealousy with a non people, provoke their anger with a foolish nation.
The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness; According to the cleanness of my hands He recompensed me.
Rosh Chodesh Adar
For a fire blazed in My wrath, and burned to the lowest depths. It consumed the land and its produce, setting aflame the foundations of mountains.
For I have kept the ways of the Lord and have not wickedly departed from [the commandments of] my G-d.
First Week of Adar
I will link evils upon them. I will use up My arrows on them.
For all His ordinances were before me; and [as for] His statutes, I did not depart from it.
They will sprout hair from famine, attacked by demons, excised by Meriri. I will incite the teeth of livestock upon them, with the venom of creatures that slither in the dust.
And I was single-hearted toward Him, and I kept myself from my iniquity.
Third Week of Adar

From outside, the sword will bereave, and terror from within; young men and maidens, suckling babes with venerable elders.
And the Lord has recompensed me according to my righteousness; according to my cleanness before His eyes.
Rosh Chodesh Nissan
I said that I would make an end of them, eradicate their remembrance from mankind.
With a kind one, You show Yourself kind. With an upright mighty man, You show Yourself upright.
First Week of Nissan
Were it not that the enemy's wrath was heaped up, lest their adversaries distort; lest they claim, "Our hand was triumphant! The Lord did none of this!"
With a pure one, You show Yourself pure; But with a perverse one, You deal crookedly.
First Day of Pessach
For they are a nation devoid of counsel, and they have no understanding.
And the humble people You do deliver; But Your eyes are upon the haughty [in order] to humble them.
Acharei Mot
If they were wise, they would understand this; they would reflect upon their fate.
For You are my lamp, O' Lord; And the Lord does light my darkness.
Fourth Week of Nissan
How can one [person] pursue a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight, unless their [Mighty] Rock has sold them out, and the Lord has given them over?
For by You I run upon a troop; By my G-d I scale a wall.
Rosh Chodesh Iyar/ 5 de Iyar
For their rock is not like our [Mighty] Rock. Nevertheless, our enemies sit in judgment.
[He is] the G-d Whose way is perfect; The word of the Lord is tried; He is a shield unto all them that trust (take refuge) in him.
Second Week of Iyar
For their vine is of the vine of Sodom, and of the field of Gemorrah; their grapes are grapes of rosh, and they have bitter clusters.
For who is G-d, save the Lord? And who is a rock, save our G-d?
Pessach Sheini/ Lag Ba’Omer
Their wine is the bitterness of serpents, and the bitterness of the ruthless cobras.
G-d is He who has fortified me with strength; and He looseth perfectly my path.
Fourth Week of Iyar
Is it not stored up with Me, sealed up in My treasuries?
He makes my feet like hinds; And sets me upon my high places.
Rosh Chodesh Sivan/ Yom Yerushalayim
Vengeance is poised with Me, and it will pay at the time their foot stumbles. For the appointed day of their reckoning is near, and what is destined for them hastens.
He trains my hand for war, so that mine arms do bend a brass bow.
When the Lord will judge His people, and will reconsider His servants, when He sees that the power is increasing, and none is controlled or strengthened.
And You have given me the shield of Your salvation; And You have increased Your modesty for me.
Third Week of Sivan
Then He will say, "Where is their deity, the rock in which they trusted,
You have enlarged my step[s] beneath me; And my ankles have not slipped.
Fourth Week of Sivan
who ate the fat of their sacrifices and drank the wine of their libations? Let them arise and help you! Let them be your shelter!
I have pursued my enemies and have destroyed them; Never turning back until they were consumed.
Rosh Chodesh Tammuz
See now that it is I! I am the One, and there is no G-d like Me! I cause death and grant life. I strike, but I heal, and no one can rescue from My Hand!
And I have consumed them, and I have crushed them that they cannot rise; Yes, they are fallen under my feet.
Second Week of Tammuz
For I raise up My hand to heaven, and say, 'As I live forever.
For You have girded me with strength for the battle; You have subdued under me those that rose up against me.
12,13 of Tammuz/ 17 of Tammuz
When I sharpen the blade of My sword, and My hand grasps judgment, I will bring vengeance upon My adversaries and repay those who hate Me.
And of my enemies You have given me the back of their necks; them that hate me, that I may cut them off.
Fourth Week of Tammuz
I will intoxicate My arrows with blood, and My sword will consume flesh, from the blood of the slain and the captives, from the first breach of the enemy.'
They looked about, but there was no one to save them; [Even] to the Lord, but He answered them not.
Rosh Chodesh Av
Sing out praise, O you nations, for His people! For He will avenge the blood of His servants, inflict revenge upon His adversaries, and appease His land [and] His people.
Then I ground them as the dust of the earth, as the mud of the streets I did tread upon them, I did stamp them down.
Tisha B'Av
And Moses came and spoke all the words of this song into the ears of the people he and Hoshea the son of Nun.
And You have allowed me to escape from the contenders amongst my people; You shall keep me as head of nations; a people whom I have not known serve me.
Tu B'Av
And Moses finished speaking all these words to all Israel.
Strangers lie to me; as soon as their ears hear, they obey me.
Third Week of Av
And he said to them, "Set your hearts to all of the words which I bear witness for you this day, so that you may command your children to observe to do all the words of this Torah.
The strangers will wilt, and become lame from their bondage.
Rosh Chodesh Elul
For it is not an empty thing for you, for it is your life, and through this thing, you will lengthen your days upon the land to which you are crossing over the Jordan, to possess it."
The Lord lives, and blessed be my Rock; And exalted be the G-d, [who is] my rock of salvation.
First Week of Elul
And the Lord spoke to Moses on that very day, saying,
The G-d who takes vengeance for me; And brings down peoples under me.
Second Week of Elul
Ki Tetzeh
(Fighting the enemy. Extremely related to Haazinu and Haftarah and saying of Shmuel HaKatan, Week 49)
Go up this Mount Avarim [to] Mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab, that is facing Jericho, and see the Land of Canaan, which I am giving to the children of Israel as a possession,
And that brings me forth from my enemies; And above those that rise against me, You have lifted me; from the violent man You deliver me.
Chai Elul
Ki Tavoh
(Interpreting things for the best, just like interpreting that even Acher can do teshuvah)
And die on the mountain upon which you are climbing and be gathered to your people, just as your brother Aaron died on Mount Hor and was gathered to his people.
Therefore I will give thanks to You, O' Lord, among the nations, and to your name I will sing praises.
Fourth Week of Elul/Slichot
(Everyone is one,  standing together, (heads of the people, carriers of water, wood choppers, etc., like the song of the Chuldah)
Because you betrayed Me in the midst of the children of Israel at the waters of Merivath Kadesh, [in] the desert of Zin, [and] because you did not sanctify Me in the midst of the children of Israel.
He gives great salvation to His king, and He performs kindness to His anointed; to David and to his seed, forevermore.
Slichot/Rosh Hashanah
For from afar, you will see the land, but you will not come there, to the land I am giving the children of Israel.
And these are the last words of David; the saying of David the son of Jesse, and the saying of the man raised on high, the anointed of the G-d of Jacob, And the sweet singer of Israel. (II Samuel 23:1)

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Week 51 (Book 2): Chuldah and Relating a Statement in the Name of the One Who Said It

HAAZINU: “Because you betrayed Me in the midst of the children of Israel at the waters of Merivath Kadesh, [in] the desert of Zin, [and] because you did not sanctify Me in the midst of the children of Israel.” (Deuteronomy 32:51)

HAFTORAH: He gives great salvation to His king, and He performs kindness to His anointed; to David and to his seed, forevermore. (II Samuel 22:51)

PIRKEI AVOT QUALITY: Who Relates a Statement in the Name of the One Who Said It

PROPHET: Chuldah[1]

LEVITICAL CITY: Cheshbon                                

On week 51, week of selichot, in Haazinu, we read about the reason why Moshe is sent by G-d to die on Mount Nebo: “Because you betrayed Me… you did not sanctify Me in the midst of the children of Israel.” Moshe’s death was a form of atonement for his past misdeed, however minute. Moshe’s punishment serves as a reminder to us about just how careful we need to be in being loyal to G-d and in sanctifying His name. This week is the time to ask Hashem for forgiveness for our failures in these areas.

The Haftarah verse for this week is much more positive in nature. It speaks of the great salvation and kindness that He performs to His anointed one and their descendants forevermore. If we properly repent and approach G-d correctly, He will show us kindness. The month of Elul is about the King being in the field, and about “Ani Ledodi Vedodi Li,”  a reciprocal relationship of G-d’s love. When we show kindness to G-d and serve him correctly as our king, G-d in turn shows us kindness and shows salvation to the king he appointed for us.

The quality needed to acquire the Torah for this week is “who relates a statement in the name of the one who said it.” During the week of selichot, we are careful not to take credit for our actions and the opportunity to do teshuvah. We pray in the merit of our patriarchs, repeatedly mentioning the 13 attributes of mercy words spoken by G-d Himself, and transmitted to us by Moses.

This week’s prophet is Chuldah. Incredibly, as explained in Book 1, Chuldah, rat in Hebrew, is also the animal of week 51! Chuldah’s story contains many aspects of this quality, both regarding the men that approach Chuldah in the name of Josiah the King, as well as Chuldah herself. Both in Kings, Chapter 22, and Chronicles, Chapter 34. The story repeats quite a few times that men (incidentally two of which are named Shaphan (“rabbit) and Achbor (“mouse”)) asked Chuldah in the name of king. Chuldah responds by speaking in the name of G-d.

Perhaps “beshem omroh,” which literally means saying something in the name of the one who says it, means more than just citing the source of the statement, but also means being true to the meaning of the original message. Chuldah exemplifies this quality probably more than any other prophet in the sense that King Josiah specifically sought out Chuldah instead of Jeremiah because he thought that perhaps as a woman she would be have more mercy than a man, and would be able to bring forth a more merciful outcome. Chuldah, however, speaks as strongly as Jeremiah would have, inkeeping with the quality of relating a statement “beshem omroh.” The sages even discuss why Chuldah would prophesize publically at all being that Jeremiah was the main prophet at the time – they explain that Jeremiah and Chuldah were actually relatives.

The levitical city of this week is Cheshbon, that literally means accounting. It is during this time of year that we do a Chesbon HaNefesh, a spiritual accounting and self-evaluation before Rosh Hashanah.

[1] This week would is also related to Rivkah and to Rebbetzin Rivkah, wife of the Rebbe Maharash, mother of the the Rebbe Rashab and grandmother of the Frierdeker Rebbe. Rebbetzin Rivkah also appears to represent the abovementioned quality: “Surviving her husband by 33 years, for many years she was the esteemed matriarch of Lubavitch, and chasidim frequented her home to listen to her accounts of the early years of Lubavitch. She is the source of many of the stories recorded in the talks, letters and memoirs of her grandson, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak (the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe).”


Sunday, January 7, 2018

Week 52 (Book 2): Esther and Bringing Redemption to the World

HAAZINU: For from afar, you will see the land, but you will not come there, to the land I am giving the children of Israel. (Deuteronomy 32:52)

HAFTORAH: And these are the last words of David; the saying of David the son of Jesse, and the saying of the man raised on high, the anointed of the G-d of Jacob, And the sweet singer of Israel. (II Samuel 23:1)

PIRKEI AVOT QUALITY: Whoever relates a statement in the name of the one who said it brings redemption to the world, as it says (Esther 2:22): And Esther told the king in the name of Mordechai.

PROPHET: Esther[1]


Week fifty two, the last week of the year, is also the week of Rosh Hashanah. In the portion of Haazinu, Hashem tells Moshe that he will see the land he is giving to the children of Israel from afar, but that he will not enter it. (On Rosh Hashanah we envision the potential of the entire new year, before even “entering” it. We should look at it with Moshe’s eyes, elevating it.) Once we do enter the new year, then we leave the old one behind, and start completely a new, Hashem gives us a new lease on life.

The Haftarah for Haazinu has only 51 verses, which would then leave one missing for this week. However, the following verse in the Book of Samuel II appears to be quite appropriate as a summary and conclusion to the Haftarah, and to King David’s life as well (just as this week serves as both a summary and conclusion of the entire year): “And these are the last words of David; the saying of David the son of Jesse, and the saying of the man raised on high, the anointed of the G-d of Jacob, And the sweet singer of Israel.”

During this week, the quality needed to acquire the Torah is not only related to the previous week’s, relating a statement in the name of one who said it, but is also includes an additional quality of bringing redemption to the world. (On Rosh Hashanah, the fate of the world is determined)

The prophetess for this week is Esther, which is quite appropriate, given that Esther is specifically mentioned in Pirkei Avot’s description above, which shows how she exemplifies this quality. Esther is the last of the prophets, and she is also a queen. Her relationship to the king reflects our relationship with the King of the Universe. Our sages teach us that in the Megillah itself, whenever the word “king” is used by itself, it is actually a reference to G-d.

This week’s levitical city is Jazer. It was a land that was good for pasture, it was in the land of Jazer, as well as Gilad, that the tribes of Reuben and Gad chose as the land to settle on the other side of the Jordan river. Simlar to Moshe himself, these tribes do not settle in the Land of Israel proper. Instead, they choose to elevate the land outside of it, in this way expanding the Land’s borders.

Jazer was good for pasture; it was regarding this land that the Torah describes the discussion between these tribes and Moshe, at the very end of the Book of Numbers, at the end of their journey of forty years in the desert. That discussion involves the need to judge others favorably, and to set a good example, thereby making it easier for others to judge you in that light.[2] It is not always easy to do that, and perhaps that is a reason that land is called Jazer, which can also be read as “Yud” Ezer. Yud is a reference to Hashem. Ezer means “help.” In other words, “G-d will help.”

The Midrash states that the spies of Jazer had so much faith in Hashem and in Moshe’s prayers, that not only did they succesffuly spy the city, they went ahead and conquered it as well.

[1] This week would is also related to Sarah, and Rebbetzin Shterna Sarah, wife of the Fifth Lubbavitcher Rebbe, the Rebbe Rashab. Shterna means star, and Esther also means star, as does Ayelet haShachar.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018


Our sages have taught that the portion of Haazinu encompasses the entire Torah. Nachmanides goes further and states that Haazinu contains everything that happens and everything that will ever happen in the history of the world.[1] Furthermore, Haazinu has 52 verses, one for each of the Torah portions that preceded it, starting from the very first one, Bereshit. The connection between these verses and the Torah portions is quite strong. These fifty-two verses also parallel the weeks of the year.
Furthermore, each verse of the Haftarah for Haazinu, the song sung by King David before his passing, in II Samuel, Chapter 22, also parallel the weeks of the year.[2] David’s song contains 51 verses, and it appears that the verse following the 51st verse, the first in Chapter 23, is connected to David’s song as well. The Haftarah also offers important insight into Haazinu. King David appears to have made his song in such a way that it would parallel Haazinu, both in form but also in substance.

[1] http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/137092/jewish/Reish-Evil.htm
[2][2] The first verse of the following Chapter is still very much related to the song, and can be counted as the 52nd verse. Weeks 1 and 52 both represent Rosh Hashanah. In fact, the first seven verses of Chapter 23 in II Samuel comprise of King David’s last song, and seem to parallel the 7 verses of the Rooster on Rosh Hashanah. There also appears to be a parallel with the opening and closing verses of Vezot HaBrachah, the words said by Moshe right before his passing.

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