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FROM THE TORAH

HA’AZINU: The Fifty-third Sedra of the Torah
Deuteronomy 32:1-52

In last week’s Sedra Vayelech, Moses anticipates the future idolatry of the children of Israel upon the Land of settlement.  He introduces a poem, to be taught to them, and to serve as God’s witness against them.  In this week’s Sedra Ha’azinu, the poem is recorded.  Then the Eternal advises Moses of the time and place of his death.  He reiterates that Moses shall not enter the Land.

THE POEM
32:1-47

Moses, together with Hosea son of Nun, delivers all of the words of this poem,
in the hearing of the people:

Testimony Before Heaven and Earth

Give ear (Ha’azinu), O heavens, and I shall speak;
pay heed, O earth, to the words of my mouth!
Let my teaching come down as rain,
my words as dew upon the grass.
As I declare the Eternal’s name,
ascribe greatness to our God!

Justification of God’s Judgment

The Rock, His work is perfect,
all of His ways are just,
faithful God,
without unrighteousness,
true and upright is He.
Of corruption:
not His,
but His children’s,
a generation
crooked and perverse!

Ungrateful People

Is this how you repay the Eternal,
O people foolish and unwise?
He is your Father, your Creator;
He made you and sustains you!
Remember the days of old,
study the past generations.
Ask your father, he will tell you.
Consult your elders, they will teach you.

For the Sake of Israel

When the Most High granted portions to the nations,
He established their borders with Jacob in mind,
the children of Israel, His people,
whom He found in the desert;
like an eagle, He spread His wings,
bearing them upon His pinions,
with no strange god at His side.

He carried him
to the Land’s sacred heights,
He fed him its yield:
honey from the rock,
oil from the flint,
the milk of cows and goats,
rams of Bashan,
the finest of wheat,
and the drink of grapes.

Jeshurun Rebelled

But Jeshurun grew fat and rebelled—
you grew fat and heavy!—
he abandoned the God who made him,
spurned his saving Rock,
they angered Him with their alien abominations,
sacrificed to gods unknown to their fathers—
you forgot the God who bore you!

The Eternal Would Punish Them…

When the Eternal saw this,
angrily He determined:
Let Me hide My face from them,
and I shall see what becomes of them!
They are a generation of perverseness,
children with no faithfulness.
They have insulted Me with a no-god,
so shall I insult them with a no-people.
For My wrath is a fire
that burns to the bottom of She’ol;
it consumes the land and its produce,
destroys the mountains’ foundations.

I would use up My arrows on them,
let loose plague and pestilence,
reptiles and vipers,
the sword from outside
and terror from within,
against boy and girl,
both the suckling and the aged!

…Except for the Enemy’s Arrogance

Except that the enemy might think,
our hand has prevailed,
not that of the Eternal,
for they lack understanding
(if they were wise,
they would understand
what lies ahead for them):
how could one of them
have pursued a thousand of Israel
unless Israel’s Rock had sold them!

What our enemies consider
to be their “rock”
is not like our Rock!
Their wine is from grapes
grown on the vines
of Sodom and Gomorrah,
the venom of poison vipers.
I have it, stored up,
ready for vengeance
when their foot slips,
as their day of disaster is near!

God’s Vengeance Is His People’s Vindication

For the Eternal will vindicate His people,
seeing that they are helpless.
Where are their gods, He will say,
whose sacrifices they ate,
and whose libations they drank?
Let them get up and shield them!
But only I, I, am He,
there is no true God besides Me,
bringing death and life,
wounding and healing,
none can override My power!

As I raise My hand to heaven
and whet the flame of My sword,
My hand shall grasp justice
and inflict vengeance
upon My enemies!
I shall intoxicate My arrows and My sword
with the blood of the fallen and captive,
and from those who drive the enemy.

Acclaim His people, O nations,
as He avenges on His enemies
the blood of His servants
and restores His people
upon its Land!

Testament for the Future

When Moses completes the recitation of all of these words to all of Israel, he calls for their attending to this, his testimony, as a testament to their children to preserve and observe all the words of this Torah.  For this is not a vain thing, he says, rather it constitutes your life and your length of days upon the Land which you are crossing the Jordan to possess.

ANTICIPATION OF THE DEATH OF MOSES
32:48-52

On the same day, the Eternal speaks to Moses himself:  Ascend to the hill country of Avarim, to Mount Nebo in Moab, overlooking Jericho, and see the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the children of Israel for a possession.  You are to die there in that mountain and be gathered to your people, as Aaron your brother died in Mount Hor and was gathered to his people, for both of you acted unfaithfully against Me at the waters of Merivat-Kadesh, in the wilderness of Tsin, by failing to sanctify Me in the midst of the children of Israel.  From a distance you may view the Land, but you may not enter it, the Land which I am giving to the children of Israel.


FROM THE PROPHETS

Haftarah for Shabbat Ha’azinu
II Samuel 22:1-51

David recites to the Eternal the words of this poem
when the Eternal rescues him from all of his enemies and from Saul:

The Eternal is my Rock and Fortress,
He is my Refuge and Shield,
the Source of my salvation!
I called upon Him,
and I was saved from my enemies.

For the breakers of death surrounded me,
the rivers of Belial, the cords of She’ol,
in my distress I called to the Eternal my God,
and from His temple He heard my voice.

His angry response caused the earth to quake,
the foundations of heaven trembled!
Smoke, fire, burning coals, from His nostrils and in His mouth!
He pushed down the heavens and stepped off,
a dark cloud under His feet.
He rode upon a flying cherub
as if on the wings of the wind,
sukkot of darkness around Him,
water and thick clouds in the sky,
illumined by burning coals of fire!

The voice of the Eternal thunders from heaven,
His arrows of lightning sow confusion:
channels of the sea are exposed,
foundations of the earth are uncovered
by the angry blast of His breath!

He dispatches from the Height,
draws me out of abundant waters;
He rescues me from my enemy,
from those who are stronger than I.

The Eternal favors me
and rewards me according to my merit.
For I have kept the ways of the Eternal,
I shall not deviate from His statutes.
With the straight You reveal Your lovingkindness,
and You requite the ways of the crooked.
You will save a humbled people,
You look upon the haughty to bring them down.
You are my lamp, O Eternal,
illuminating my darkness!

You enable me to take on an army,
by my God I can leap over walls;
O God, His way is perfect, His teaching is pure,
He is a Shield to all who take refuge in Him!
Who is God but the Eternal?
Who is a Rock but our God?

God, my Fortress, trains me for war,
He bends a bow of brass for my arms;
You grant me Your saving shield,
Your gracious attention makes me great!
You enable me to firmly pursue my enemies
and to persist until they are destroyed!
They, too, seek Your help,
but You answer them not!

You deliver me also from the quarrels of my people,
and You preserve me as the undisputed ruler
of nations whom I knew not
as they fall before me!

As the Eternal lives, blessed is my saving, avenging Rock,
who brings peoples down below me,
who removes me from my enemies,
and exalts me above those who come against me,
delivering me from men of violence!

Therefore shall I sing Your thanks among the nations:
A Tower of salvation is his King,
showing lovingkindness to His anointed one,
to David and to his seed,
forever!

FROM TALMUD AND MIDRASH

Deuteronomy Rabbah 10:4

“Give ear, O heavens, and I shall speak;
pay heed, O earth, to the words of my mouth!”
(32:1)

Said Rabbi Samuel bar Nachman:  Moses was of the earth, but he became great in heaven.  Whence?  “He was there with the Eternal forty days and forty nights!” (Exodus 34:28)  He therefore reasoned:  If I appeal to heaven, the earth will be upset; and if I appeal to earth, heaven will be upset.  So his solution was:  I shall appeal to both of them, to heaven and to earth, as was said, “Give ear, O heavens…pay heed, O earth…!”

Said Rabbi Tanchuma:  Why to both heaven and earth?  Because the Holy One, blessed be He, will not redeem Israel except by the agencies of both, for thus is written: “Shout aloud, O heavens, for the Eternal will act; sing out, O depths of the earth!” (Isaiah 44:23)

Another interpretation:  Why to both heaven and earth?  Because both were involved in the giving of Torah, as was said, “From the heavens He caused you to hear His voice, instruct you; and on earth He caused you to see His great fire, from which you heard His words!” (Deuteronomy 4:36)

Another interpretation:  Because the provision of manna and quails was worked through both of them.  Whence?  “I shall cause bread (manna) to rain down to you from the heavens!” (Exodus 16:4) and “In the evening quail came up (from the earth) and covered the camp!” (Ibid., 13)

Another interpretation:  Because the Holy One, blessed be He, likened Israel to both heaven and earth.  He said to Abraham, “Look up to the heavens, and count the stars, if you could…thus shall be your seed!” (Genesis 15:5) and He said to Jacob in his dream, “Your seed shall be (as numerous) as the dust of the earth!” (Ibid. 28:14)

Rabbi Chanina taught:  This may be likened to one who dies after entrusting a valuable possession to his friend.  The son and heir of the deceased shows honor to the man with whom his father entrusted the possession and to the man’s wife as well.  He was asked: Why do you show honor to both of them, to the man and his wife?  He answered them:  I now own something valuable that is with them, but it is not clear to me exactly which of them is holding it, the man or his wife.  I just want to be sure that wherever the object is, it is kept safe.

So was Moses asked the same question when he said, “Give ear, O heavens…pay heed, O earth…”:  Why are you commanding both heaven and earth?  His answer:  I will in the future die, but I do not know to which of these my soul is going, whether to heaven or to earth.  Whence?  “Who knows if a man’s spirit rises upwards or, as a beast’s spirit, goes down to the earth?” (Ecclesiastes 4:21)  Therefore I command both of them, just to be sure that wherever my soul rests, it is kept safe!

The Holy One, blessed be He, said to him:  By your life, no created thing will have dominion over your soul.  Where will it rest?  Under My throne of glory in heaven!  For thus said Abigail: “The soul of my lord will be bound up in the bond of life with the Eternal your God!” (I Samuel 25:29)

Talmud Kiddushin 36a

“They are a generation of perverseness,
children with no faithfulness.”
(32:20)

It is taught: Rabbi Meir says, Even when Israel fails to do God’s will, they are still called His children!

Yerushalmi Peah 1:1

“Apply your heart to all of the words
that I attest to you this day,
which you shall command to your children to keep,
in order to carry out all of the words of this Torah.
For it is not a vain thing from you,
but it is your life,
and by this thing you will have many days upon the Land…”
(32:46-47)

Rabbi Mana taught:  “For it is not a vain thing from you”—meaning that if it were a vain thing, then it would be “from you!”  Why?  Because you would not be laboring in the Torah.  To teach you that any matter for which the members of the Beth Din truly devote themselves, even at the risk of death, will be sustained as truth in the end.

When is it “your life?”  When you labor in it!

SHABBAT SHALOM!

 

Sukkot Readings

FROM THE TORAH

FIRST & SECOND DAYS OF YOM TOV
Leviticus 22:26-23:44

PATTERN OF SANCTIFICATION
22:26-33

The Eternal explains to Moses that a newborn ox or sheep or goat remains with its mother for the first seven days of its life.  From the eighth day onward it is acceptable for a fire offering to the Eternal.  However, you may not slaughter an ox or a sheep with its offspring on the same day.

When you make a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the Eternal, you sacrifice it for your acceptance.  It must be eaten on the same day; nothing of it may remain until the morning.  I am the Eternal.

Preserve and fulfill My commandments.  Do not profane My holy name, but let Me be sanctified in the midst of the Children of Israel.  I am the Eternal, who sanctifies you, who is bringing you out of the land of Egypt to be your God.  I am the Eternal.

THE SABBATH
23:1-3

The Eternal tells Moses to advise the Children of Israel regarding His appointed times:

For six days you shall do your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of complete rest, a holy convocation.  Do no work.  It is a Sabbath to the Eternal in all of your settlements.

PESACH AND UNLEAVENED BREAD
23:4-8

The following also are appointed times of the Eternal, holy convocations which you shall declare at their appointed time:

On the fourteenth day of the first month, at twilight, there is Pesach for the Eternal, and on the fifteenth day there is the Festival of Unleavened Bread for the Eternal: you shall eat unleavened bread for seven days.  The first of the seven days shall be a holy convocation for you: you shall do no work of service.  Throughout the seven days you shall bring fire offerings to the Eternal.  The seventh day shall be a holy convocation: you shall do no work of service.

GRAIN HARVEST
23:9-22

The Eternal tells Moses to advise the Children of Israel regarding the grain harvest:

When you come to the Land which I am giving to you and you reap its harvest, you shall bring to the priest the first sheaf (omer) of your harvest.  Eat no bread or parched ear or fresh grain until the very day that you bring this offering to your God.  The priest shall wave the sheaf before the Eternal for your acceptance on the morrow of the day of rest.  On that day you shall provide a year-old lamb without blemish for a burnt offering to the Eternal.  Its meal offering shall be two-tenths of a measure of fine flour mixed with oil, a fire offering to the Eternal of pleasant aroma, and its libation shall be a quarter of a hin of wine.  This is an everlasting statute throughout your generations in all of your settlements.

You count from the morrow of the day of rest, from the day when you bring the sheaf of waving, seven complete weeks.  Then, on the morrow of the seventh week, count a fiftieth day and bring thereon a new meal offering to the Eternal.  You shall declare on that very day a holy convocation for you.  You shall do no work of service.  It is an everlasting statute in all of your settlements throughout your generations.

On that day, from your settlements bring two loaves of bread as a wave offering: two-tenths of a measure of fine flour shall they be and baked leavened, first fruits for the Eternal.  Bring with the bread seven year-old lambs without blemish, one bull of the herd, and two rams, as burnt offerings to the Eternal, and their meal offering and their libations, a fire offering of pleasant aroma for the Eternal.  You shall provide one male goat for a sin offering and two year-old lambs for a sacrifice of peace offerings.  The priest shall wave them as a wave offering before the Eternal along with the bread of first fruits, which shall be holy to the Eternal for the priest along with the two lambs.

When you reap the harvest of your land, do not wholly reap the corner of your field, and do not gather the leftovers of your harvest.  Leave them for the poor and for the stranger.  I, the Eternal, am your God.

THE SEVENTH MONTH
23:23-36,39-43

The Eternal tells Moses to advise the Children of Israel regarding other holy convocations:

On the first day of the seventh month, you shall have a day of rest, announced by the blast of a horn, a holy convocation.  You shall do no work of service.  You shall bring a fire offering to the Eternal.

But, says the Eternal to Moses, the tenth day of this seventh month shall be a day of atonement, a holy convocation for you, on which “you shall afflict your souls” (23:27) and bring a fire offering to the Eternal.  As it is a day of atonement before the Eternal your God, you shall not do any work on it, it is a sabbath of complete rest for you.  Indeed any soul that is not afflicted on this same day shall be cut off from its people; I shall cause anyone who does work on this day to be lost from among his people.  You shall not do any work as an everlasting statute throughout your generations in all of your settlements, beginning on the ninth day of the month in the evening, from evening to evening shall you observe your day of rest.

The Eternal advises Moses to speak further to the Children of Israel:

Beginning on the fifteenth day of this seventh month, when you gather in the produce of the land, you shall observe the festival of booths (sukkot) to the Eternal for seven days.  The first day is a holy convocation, a day of rest: you shall do no work of service.  You shall take for yourselves the fruit of a splendid tree, branches of palm trees, a bough of a leafy tree, and willows of the brook, to rejoice before the Eternal your God for these seven days.  It is an annual observance, an everlasting statute throughout your generations.  In addition, you shall dwell in booths throughout the seven days, every native in Israel, so that future generations will know that I caused the Children of Israel to dwell in booths when I brought them out from the land of Egypt, I, the Eternal, your God.  Throughout the seven days you shall present a fire offering to the Eternal.

Then, on the eighth day you shall have a concluding holy convocation, a day of rest; on it you shall do no work of service, and you shall bring a fire offering to the Eternal.

SUMMARY OF APPOINTED TIMES
23:37-38,44

These, then, are the appointed times of the Eternal, which you shall declare, holy convocations, to bring a fire offering to the Eternal: burnt offering and meal offering, sacrifice and libations, each on its day, besides the Sabbath offerings to the Eternal and besides your gifts and vows and besides all of your voluntary offerings which you bring to the Eternal.  Thus Moses explains the appointed times of the Eternal to the Children of Israel.

MAFTIR

Numbers 29:12-16

On the fifteenth day of the seventh month there shall be a holy convocation for you; do not perform work of service; celebrate a festival (chag) to the Eternal for seven days.

On the first day, offer a burnt offering to the Eternal: thirteen bulls of the herd, two rams, and fourteen year-old lambs; see that they are without blemish.  Their meal offering shall be of fine flour mixed with oil: three-tenths of a measure for each of the thirteen bulls, two-tenths of a measure for each of the two rams, and one-tenth of a measure for each of the fourteen lambs.  There shall be one goat for a sin offering.  All of this is besides the regular burnt offering, its meal offering, and its libation.

FIRST DAY OF CHOL HAMOED
Numbers 29:17-22

On the second day, twelve bulls of the herd, two rams, and fourteen year-old lambs, without blemish.  Their meal offering and their libations, for the bulls, for the rams, and for the lambs, shall be in prescribed amounts.  There shall be one goat for a sin offering.  All of this is besides the regular burnt offering, its meal offering, and their libations.

On the third day, eleven bulls, two rams, and fourteen year-old lambs, without blemish.  Their meal offering and their libations, for the bulls, for the rams, and for the lambs, shall be in prescribed amounts.  There shall be one goat for a sin offering.  All of this is besides the regular burnt offering, its meal offering, and its libation.

SECOND DAY OF CHOL HAMOED
Numbers 29:20-25

On the third day, eleven bulls, two rams, and fourteen year-old lambs, without blemish.  Their meal offering and their libations, for the bulls, for the rams, and for the lambs, shall be in prescribed amounts.  There shall be one goat for a sin offering.  All of this is besides the regular burnt offering, its meal offering, and its libation.

On the fourth day, ten bulls, two rams, and fourteen year-old lambs, without blemish.  Their meal offering and their libations, for the bulls, for the rams, and for the lambs, shall be in prescribed amounts.  There shall be one goat for a sin offering.  All of this is besides the regular burnt offering, its meal offering, and its libation.

THIRD DAY OF CHOL HAMOED
Numbers 29:23-28

On the fourth day, ten bulls, two rams, and fourteen year-old lambs, without blemish.  Their meal offering and their libations, for the bulls, for the rams, and for the lambs, shall be in prescribed amounts.  There shall be one goat for a sin offering.  All of this is besides the regular burnt offering, its meal offering, and its libation.

On the fifth day, nine bulls, two rams, and fourteen year-old lambs, without blemish.  Their meal offering and their libations, for the bulls, for the rams, and for the lambs, shall be in prescribed amounts.  There shall be one goat for a sin offering.  All of this is besides the regular burnt offering, its meal offering, and its libation.

SHABBAT CHOL HAMOED SUKKOT
Exodus 33:12-34:26

MOSES’S QUESTIONS OF THE ETERNAL
33:12-23

Moses addresses the Eternal with certain questions:  (1) Whom will You send with me to bring up this people (cf. 32:34; 33:2)?  (2) How can I know that I have found favor in Your sight as You have claimed (cf. 32:32-33)?  (3) What is Your name, as You claim to have made it known to me (cf. 33:12)?  Underlying the presumption reflected in these demands is Moses’s recognition on behalf of the Eternal: “See that this nation is Your people!” (33:13)

To the first question, He answers, “My face shall go, and I shall give you rest.” (33:14)  Moses emphasizes that only under that circumstance should He bring them up from their current place.

As to the second question, Moses underlines its importance not only for him but for “Your people” as well, “to be distinguished from every other people that is upon the face of the earth.” (33:16)  The Eternal agrees to answer the second question but as interrelated with the answer to Moses’s third demand.  In anticipation Moses entreats with urgency and respect, “Show me Your grave presence.” (33:18)

I can show you My goodness, I can declare to you My name [referred to herein as “the Eternal”], and I can demonstrate My favor by compassion, but no living person can see My face.  Then He bids Moses take his place “with Me” (33:21) in the cleft of a rock, and as “My grave presence passes by…I shall put My hand over you…then, when I remove My hand, you shall see My back, but My face shall not be seen.” (33:22-23)

MOSES ASCENDS MOUNT SINAI AGAIN
34:1-4

The Eternal tells Moses to carve two tablets of stone like the first ones, “and I shall write upon the tablets the words which were on the first tablets that you shattered.” (34:1)  Then, in the morning, you shall go up to Mount Sinai and be present to Me there upon the top of the mountain.  Let no one else come up with you, not even be seen in all the mountain, and let no flock or herd be pastured at the foot of the mountain.  So does Moses, taking up with him the two tablets of stone in his hand.

THE ETERNAL DESCENDS
34:5-7

The Eternal descends in the cloud and stands with him there, proclaiming the name of the Eternal.  The Eternal passes over his face and declares, “The Eternal, the Eternal, God compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness and truth, preserving lovingkindness for the thousandth, forgiving iniquity, transgression and sin, but without acquitting, visiting the iniquity of fathers upon children and upon children’s children to the third generation and to the fourth generation.” (34:6-7)

MOSES REQUESTS DIVINE PRESENCE
34:8-9

Moses quickly bows down to the ground and prays, “If indeed I have found favor in Your sight, O Lord, let the Lord go in our midst,” offering the very reason of the Eternal’s expressed demurral as cause to grant his request for reconsideration, “for it is a stiff-necked people,” and therefore he asks directly, “forgive our iniquity and our sin, and accept us as an inheritance.” (34:9; cf. 33:3)

THE ETERNAL OUTLINES HIS COVENANT
34:10-26

He says: I hereby make a covenant.  I shall perform before the people, in whose midst you are, awesome wonders that have not been created before.  Observe well what I command you this day!

Do not make a molten god.  I am expelling from before you the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites.  Do not worship another, for the Eternal is a jealous God.  Take care not to make a covenant with the inhabitants of the Land that you may encounter, but break down their altars, shatter their pillars, and cut down their idols, lest they become a snare in your midst and you make a covenant with them and sacrifice to their gods and accept their invitation to eat of their sacrifices, or you marry your sons to their daughters and your sons are drawn to their wives’ gods.

Observe the festival of Pesach.  For seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, for the festival of the month of Aviv, as in that month you went out from Egypt.

All that opens the womb is Mine.  Sanctify the firstborn males of ox and sheep.  Redeem with a lamb the firstborn of an ass, otherwise break its neck.  Redeem every firstborn of your sons.  Let them not appear before Me empty-handed.

Six days shall you work.  On the seventh day shall you rest.  You shall rest in ploughing and in harvest.

Observe for yourself the festival of Weeks (Shavuot), first fruit of the wheat harvest.

Observe the festival of Ingathering (Asif), at the completion of the year.

Three times in the year shall all of your males appear before the Lord, the Eternal, the God of Israel.  For I will drive out nations from before you and expand your territory, so that no one will covet your property when you go up to appear before the Eternal your God.

You shall not offer the blood of my sacrifice while there is leavened bread, and the sacrifice of the festival of Pesach shall not remain overnight until morning.

The prime quality of the first fruits of your Land shall you bring to the house of the Eternal your God.

Do not boil a kid in the milk of its mother.

MAFTIR

Numbers 29:26-31

On the fifth day, nine bulls, two rams, and fourteen year-old lambs, without blemish.  Their meal offering and their libations, for the bulls, for the rams, and for the lambs, shall be in prescribed amounts.  There shall be one goat for a sin offering.  All of this is besides the regular burnt offering, its meal offering, and its libation.

On the sixth day, eight bulls, two rams, and fourteen year-old lambs, without blemish.  Their meal offering and their libations, for the bulls, for the rams, and for the lambs, shall be in prescribed amounts.  There shall be one goat for a sin offering.  All of this is besides the regular burnt offering, its meal offering, and its libations.

HOSHANAH RABBAH
Numbers 29:26-34

On the fifth day, nine bulls, two rams, and fourteen year-old lambs, without blemish.  Their meal offering and their libations, for the bulls, for the rams, and for the lambs, shall be in prescribed amounts.  There shall be one goat for a sin offering.  All of this is besides the regular burnt offering, its meal offering, and its libation.

On the sixth day, eight bulls, two rams, and fourteen year-old lambs, without blemish.  Their meal offering and their libations, for the bulls, for the rams, and for the lambs, shall be in prescribed amounts.  There shall be one goat for a sin offering.  All of this is besides the regular burnt offering, its meal offering, and its libations.

On the seventh day, seven bulls, two rams, and fourteen year-old lambs, without blemish.  Their meal offering and their libations, for the bulls, for the rams, and for the lambs, shall be in prescribed amounts.  There shall be one goat for a sin offering.  All of this is besides the regular burnt offering, its meal offering, and its libation.

 

FROM THE PROPHETS

Haftarah for the First Day of Sukkot
Zechariah 14:1-21

Behold, the Eternal’s day is coming,
when your spoil shall be divided in your midst.
I shall gather all of the nations for war against Jerusalem,
the city shall be captured,
the houses plundered,
the women raped,
half of the city shall go into exile,
while the rest of the people shall remain.

The Eternal shall fight against those nations,
as He fought in the day of battle,
His feet standing on the Mount of Olives,
which faces Jerusalem from the east,
and the Mount shall be split between east and west,
with a large valley between them,
and half of the Mount shall move to the north,
while the other half shall move to the south.

You shall flee to the valley,
the valley reaching as far as Atzel,
as you fled from the earthquake
in the days of Uzziah, king of Judah,
and the Eternal, my God,
shall come for you
together with all of the holy ones.

On that day there shall be
no natural light of any kind,
a day known only by the Eternal,
neither day nor night;
at the time of evening
there shall be light!
Living waters shall come out of Jerusalem,
flowing equally to the eastern sea and to the western sea,
in the summer and in the winter.
The Eternal shall become King over the earth;
on that day shall the Eternal be one
and His name one.

All the Land shall be turned
low like the Aravah,
from Geva to Rimmon, south of Jerusalem,
and Jerusalem shall be elevated and populated,
from the Gate of Benjamin to the First Gate
as far as the Corner Gate,
from the Tower of Chananel
to the Royal Winepresses,
and Jerusalem shall dwell in safety.

The Eternal shall strike with a plague
all of the peoples who waged war on Jerusalem:
their flesh and their eyes and their tongue shall rot;
the resulting havoc will cause
each one to attack his neighbor,
Judah will wage war against Jerusalem
and will collect the wealth of all of the surrounding nations—
gold, silver and fine clothing in abundance.
All of the beasts in those camps
shall experience a plague like this:
the horses, mules, camels, and asses.

All of the remnant of those nations
who came up against Jerusalem
shall go up from year to year
to worship the King, the Eternal of hosts,
and to celebrate the Festival of Sukkot.
Upon the families of the earth who do not go up,
there shall be no rain.
Upon the families of Egypt who do not go up,
there shall be the plague.

On that day there shall be
on the bells of the horses
“Holy to the Eternal,”
and the pots in the House of the Eternal
shall be like the pans before the altar.
Every pot in Jerusalem and Judah
shall be “Holy to the Eternal of hosts,”
and all sacrificers will take of them
and cook in them,
and there will no longer be traders
in the House of the Eternal of hosts
on that day.

Haftarah for the Second Day of Sukkot
I Kings 8:2-21

All of the men of Israel join King Solomon in the month of Etanim, at the Festival of the Seventh Month, and all of the elders of Israel come with them.  The priests and the Levites carry the ark of the Eternal and the tent of meeting and all of the sacred vessels in the tent.  The king and all of the community of Israel who are with him sacrifice innumerable animals of flock and herd.

The priests bring the ark of the Eternal’s covenant to its place, to the devir of the House, to the Holy of Holies.  The cherubim spread their wings over the ark and its staves.

The staves were long enough for their ends to be seen, from the sanctuary, above the devir, but they could not be seen outside; and there they have been until this day.  In the ark there were only the two tablets of stone, placed there by Moses at Horeb, which the Eternal covenanted with the children of Israel in their exodus from the land of Egypt.

As the priests go out from the sanctuary, a cloud fills the House of the Eternal, preventing them from staying to minister, for the grave presence of the Eternal fills the Eternal’s House.

Then Solomon speaks:  The Eternal has said that He will dwell in thick darkness (cf. Exodus 20:18; Leviticus 16:2).  Now I have built for You an exalted habitation for You to dwell in forever!  The king then turns to the congregation, and as he blesses them, all of the congregation rises.

He speaks further:  Blessed is the Eternal, the God of Israel, who spoke with His mouth to David, my father, and authorized him in accordance with these words.  From the day that I brought My people Israel out of Egypt, I did not choose a city from any of the tribes of Israel, in which to build a house to bear My name, but I chose David to be over My people Israel.  It was the wish of David, my father, to build a house in the name of the Eternal, God of Israel.  To my father He said: Insofar as it was in your heart to build a house in My name, you did well that it was in your heart.  However, you shall not build the house, but your son, who emerges from your loins, he shall build the house in My name.

Solomon continues:  So does the Eternal fulfill His promise, and I arise in the stead of David my father to sit upon the throne of Israel, as the Eternal promised, and to build the house in the name of the Eternal, God of Israel.  So have I put there a place for the ark, containing the covenant of the Eternal, which He made with our fathers when He brought them out from the land of Egypt.

Haftarah for Shabbat Chol Hamoed Sukkot
Ezekiel 38:18-39:16

When Gog attacks the soil of Israel, says the Lord God, My anger shall well up.  I commit with passionate wrath a great commotion upon it, moving the fish of the sea, the birds of heaven, the beasts of the field, everything that crawls upon the earth, and all the people upon the Land, toppling mountains and walls!  I shall call for the sword throughout My mountains, a sword shall there be of each man against his brother!  I shall enter in judgment with him and his allies, by pestilence and blood, by driving rain and stones of hail, by fire and brimstone.  Thereby shall My greatness be known to many nations, and they shall know that I am the Eternal.

Now you, son of man, prophesy concerning Gog:  Thus says the Lord God, I am against you, O Gog, head prince of Meshech and Tubal (cf. Genesis 10:2), and I will bring you up from the distant north and release you upon the mountains of Israel, striking your bow from your left hand and your arrows from your right!  You and your allies shall be prey for the birds and the beasts.  I shall send fire upon Magog and upon all who dwell securely in far-off islands; yes, they shall know that I am the Eternal!

I shall make My holy name known in the midst of My people Israel and not let it be profaned anymore; thereby shall the nations know that I am the Eternal, the Holy One in Israel!  The day that I have promised shall come about: the inhabitants of Israel’s cities shall burn all of their weaponry for seven years, so that they will not need wood to be cut from their forests, and they shall despoil their despoilers.

On that day I shall provide Gog a burial place in Israel, in the Valley of Passers, east of the sea.  The place shall become noteworthy and be called the Valley of Gog’s Horde.  There shall all of the house of Israel bury them, to purify the Land, for seven months, to mark My victory; and even after seven months specially-designated buriers shall recover the unburied remains of Gog and bury them in the Valley of Gog’s Horde, to purify the Land.  Horde (Hamonah) shall also be the name of a city.

 

FROM THE MIDRASH

Pesikta d’Rav Kahana 27:2

“You shall take for yourselves
on the first day
the fruit of a splendid tree,
branches of palm trees,
a bough of a leafy tree,
and willows of the brook,
to rejoice before the Eternal your God
for these seven days.”
(Leviticus 23:40)

“Make known to me the path of life;
in Your presence is abundant joy,
pleasure in Your right hand forever!”
(Psalms 16:11)

Said David before the Holy One, blessed be He:  Master of the universe, “make known to me the path of life,” how can I know which of the petitioners is to be favored?

When this was debated among the Rabbis, one said: Favor the group who comes with the scholarship of Torah and charitable deeds.  The other opinion was: Favor those who teach Bible and Mishnah rigorously to children.

Rabbi Abin compared the question to two groups of litigants who come before the judge.  How do we know which of the two prevails?  The one who emerges carrying the palm—we know that he is the victor.

Thus, when Israel and the other nations present their cases before the Holy One, blessed be He, on Rosh Hashanah, we have no way of knowing which of them prevails, except for the fact that Israel emerges joyously from before the Holy One, blessed be He, with their lulavs and etrogs in their right hands!

Therefore, Moses was careful to prepare Israel with lulav and etrog “on the first day!”

Pesikta d’Rav Kahana 27:6

“You shall take for yourselves…”
(Leviticus 23:40)

These words can be construed literally: You shall take that which is for yourselves, i.e., that which belongs to you.  Rabbi Chiya taught: The taking should be of that which is yours, not of that which belongs to someone else (stolen).

Said Rabbi Levi:  The taking up of a stolen lulav is a case of one’s defender turning into his prosecutor.  This may be compared to a highwayman who robbed a tax collector who was on his way to perform his duty.  The highwayman took all that the tax collector had collected.  Eventually the highwayman was arrested and about to be put on trial before the king.  The tax collector went to the highwayman and promised to testify on his behalf if he would return to the tax collector all that he had stolen from him.  All that the highwayman had left of what he had stolen from the tax collector was a single rug, so he gave him that, and the tax collector promised to testify for the highwayman.

When the tax collector was called to testify, he recounted to the king his robbery at the hands of the highwayman:  You sent me to collect tax from a certain province, and this man held me up and took everything that I had, and this rug is a witness to what he did!  Whereupon all began to say: Woe to him whose defender turns into his prosecutor!

Similarly, a man takes a lulav to advocate for him, but if the lulav was stolen, it cries out before the Holy One, blessed be He, “I am stolen! I am robbed!” and the ministering angels say: Woe to him whose defender has turned into his prosecutor!

Pesikta d’Rav Kahana 27:9

“The fruit of a splendid tree,
branches of palm trees,
a bough of a leafy tree,
and willows of the brook…”
(Leviticus 23:40)

The lulav and etrog, as a cluster of four species, represent Israel.  As the etrog has both aroma and taste, so also does Israel have those who both study Torah and perform good deeds.  Just as the fruit of date palms have taste but no aroma, so there are in Israel those who have knowledge of Torah but do not perform good deeds.  Just as the leafy bough of myrtle has aroma but no taste, so there are in Israel those who perform good deeds but lack knowledge of Torah.  Just as the willows of the brook have neither taste nor aroma, so there are in Israel those who lack knowledge of Torah and fail to perform good deeds.

When Moses commanded the banding together of the four species into a single cluster, he was reflecting the refusal of the Holy One, blessed be He, to omit any of the four.  Instead, He said, let them atone one for the other!

CHAG SAMEACH!

SHABBAT SHALOM!

Copyright © 2018 Eric H. Hoffman
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