(Haftara: Jeremiah 2:4-28, 3:4, 4:1,2)
(Pirkay Avot 2)
1. [Haftara: Jeremiah , 3:4, 4:1,2] : If a haftara ends with a negative statement, then positive psukim are added. That is the purpose of the last psukim in this haftara. Is this wise? In this haftara, God has been rebuking the Jews. Wouldn’t it be more proper to finish with a negative statement so that the Jews will regret their actions and return to God?
2. [Pirkay Avot 2:2] “Torah, together with work, saves a person from sin. ” One would think that the more Torah, the less sin. How does work help to save a person from sin?
3. [Pirkay Avot 2:13] The mishna asks, “Which is the good way that a person should go on?” The mishna ends by saying that a “good heart” is the best way because it includes generosity, and a good friend, a good neighbour, and the quality of foreseeing the future. How does a good heart include all of these other qualities?
4. [Pirkay Avot 2:15] “Warm yourself by the light of the wise men, but be careful…because their bite is the bite of a fox…and all their words are like burning coals.” Shouldn’t our true teachers be constantly loving. Why do they have this “biting” side to them?
5. [Calendar] We are now in the 3 weeks before Tisha b’Av. In these weeks, we have no marriages, no dancing, playing musical instruments, or cutting hair. Our tradition wants to prepare us to mourn properly on Tisha b’Av. Similarly, before Purim, we prepare to be joyful. However, in Jewish life in general, we often change very quickly from one emotion to another—we go from a funeral to a wedding, and so on. What is special about Tisha b’Av that would require this extra preparation?
[33:2] “And Moshe wrote their leaving [Egypt] according to their various journeys…” Why did Moshe have to write down every place that the people stopped?
Leaving Egypt represents leaving behind one’s slavery to the physical—one’s pleasures and one’s dependencies. A person might think that after he or she has freed themselves of their enslavement to the physical, one can forget the past, and live in the freedom of the present. The Torah, therefore, is telling us that one must remember the past in order to correct one’s mistakes—the negative acts that one did. Only then can one really live freely in the present.
–R. Yehudah Aryeh Leib Alter (1847 – 1905), Góra Kalwaria, Poland
This study page is dedicated to the memory of Gad Eliahu ben David and Kochava–Eli Zucker
And to the memory of Sarah Beila Kummer bat Yitzchak and Chana, Chaim Yosef Yechiel ben Eliyahu Kummer and Eliyahu and Margaret Kummer