Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Lion's Roar

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In the Haftora for parshas Vayeishev, our prophet Amos, delivers Hashem's words of rebuke to the ten northern tribes, the kingdom of Yisrael. He chastises them for their corruption of those in power over the common folk and for not listening to the prophets.

The connection to the parsha, is that the Haftora speaks of the sale of a Tzadik for silver and a poor man for a pair of shoes. Which resembles the sale of Yosef as a slave to Egypt, spoken about in our parsha. It also speaks about corrupt judges taking falsely charging innocent people, for their personal benefit. Yosef, full of integrity, did not take advantage of his position, but was thrown into jail on false charges. His strength of character, merited him to become the viceroy of Egypt. Then the Haftora continues with the truth of prophecy, and that it is directly from Hashem, this alludes to Yosef's dreams and his ability to interpret dreams, which was clearly prophecy from Hashem. And finally, the Haftora mentions the exodus from Egypt, which was the end of an exile, that began with Yosef being sold to Egypt.

The Haftora begins with Hashem saying that He could forgive us "for three" sins, (idol worship, inappropriate relations and murder), "but for four" (the perversion of justice in the judicial system), he "will not forgive." This verse speaks for itself, to Hashem, taking advantage of people, who you have power over, is the worst thing. Hashem is ready to forgive the most heinous crimes, but not this one.

Hashem goes on to say, that after all He has done for us, He brought us up out of Egypt, He fought wars for us. He gave us prophets and teachers, but those in power silenced them. Then they used their authority to take from the powerless and use for their own pleasures. He goes on to say what will be the consequences for these deplorable actions.

Then Hashem says, "I only loved you, from all the families of the earth, that is why I punish you for all your transgressions." This love of Hashem to us, is from his essence, where he is one with us, beyond any reason, therefore it is an essential bond that cannot be broken. And precisely because of this great love, our actions matter to Hashem, that is why he punishes us for our wrong doing.

Then the Haftora continues with rhetorical statements, that demonstrate that the consequences, are a direct result of our actions. These verses have alternative meanings, I will touch on a few.

"Do two walk together, without it being arranged?" The word for a farbrengen (gathering) in Hebrew is hisvadus. It comes from the word noadu (arranged) in this verse. The idea is that when two or more Jews come together in unity, it is very powerful, especially to strengthen each other with regards to keeping Torah and mitzvahs, and with their connection with Hashem. This verse is also telling us, that when we meet another Jew, we shouldn't take it for granted, thinking that it is by chance that you met. Rather Hashem arranged for you to meet and therefore, you must use the opportunity to help each other, learn something from each other, or see what you can do together to help another.

"Does a lion roar in the forest, if he has no prey?" The lion's roar, represents the greatest expression of its strength. On a spiritual level, this refers to when we are as strong as a lion and we overcome our evil inclination, which then becomes our prey. The excitement felt inside is amazing, because Hashem has so much pleasure and pride in us, causing His light shine on and in us.

"If a shofar is sounded in a city, can the inhabitants fail to be terrified?" The simple meaning of this verse is, that a shofar was sounded when enemies were converging on a city, which was terrifying. Alternatively, this refers to sounding the shofar in the month of Elul. That the sound of the shofar reaches the core of every Jew, even those that seem distant and cold to Judaism are affected by the sound of the shofar. In this verse, no reference is made of the one blowing, because no matter who is doing the blowing, the sound that enters us is from Hashem. This is the reason why it is so effective.

"When a lion roars, who does not fear?" In Hebrew, lion is Aryeh, and if you rearrange the letters, you get yirah, which means fear. The Shaloh Hakadosh tells us, that Aryeh is an acronym for Elul, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Hoshana Rabba. The fear and awe of Hashem is upon us at those times, because He is close. The Yakult Shimoni tells us, that Aryeh refers to the month of Menachem Av, because its Mazal is the lion. So Hashem is close then as well, which is reason to praise Hashem and be joyous on Rosh Chodesh Menachem Av, even more than other Rosh Chodeshes.

It is in the merit of honesty, strength of character and integrity, especially from those in positions of power, and the belief in the words of our great prophets, that we will hear Hashem sounding The Great Shofar of Freedom, announcing that Moshiach here. May he come soon.

1 comment:

  1. Gevaldig!
    Happy Channuka Rav Yitzi and may Hashem open up all His blessings to you and all K'lal Yisrael and bring the complete and final Geula already!