Shabbat Shuba - שבת שובה

By Rabbi Dr. Hillel ben David (Greg Killian)

 


Torah Readings. 2

Special Ashlamatot for Shabbat Shuba: 2

Shabbat Shuba Deeds. 3

Dates for Shabbat Shuba. 4

Midrash Pesiqta de Rab Kahana for Shabbat Shuba: Pisqa Twenty-Four 4

XXIV:I 4

XXIV:II 5

XXIV:III 5

XXIV:IV.. 6

XXIV:V.. 6

XXIV:VI 7

XXIV:VII 7

XXIV:VIII 8

XXIV:IX.. 8

XXIV:X.. 9

XXIV:XI 9

XXIV:XII 12

XXIV:XIII 12

XXIV:XIV.. 13

XXIV:XV.. 13

XXIV:XVI 14

XXIV:XVII 15

XXIV:XVIII 15

XXIV:XIX.. 15

Midrash of Matityahu (Matthew) 4:12-17. 16

In The Peshat 16

Complete Returning (Repentance) 16

Shabbat Shuba and Shabbat HaGadol 16

In Our Synagogues. 17

Just Two Shabbatot 17

In Our Customs. 18

On The Calendar 19

In the Triennial Torah Reading Cycle. 19

 

The Shabbat that falls during the week between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, in the midst of the Yamim Noraim (The Awesome Days), is called Shabbat Shuba, or the Sabbath of Return. Shabbat Shuba is also known as the Shabbat of Hisbonenus.[1] It’s a time for introspection when one has to look at his actions and see what he has achieved and where he is heading.

 

It is also worth noting that this is the first Shabbat of the new year that is not Rosh HaShana. The late Rabbi Yehonason Ibishitz says that if one makes a special effort to keep this first Shabbat of the year properly, it will atone for all of the Shabbatot throughout the previous year that one may not have been so careful about. Atonement depents on our teshuva, our returning to HaShem.

 

The combination of Shabbat and teshuva reflects the desire that our return to HaShem be in a peaceful and pleasant spirit. It is called the Shabbat Shuba, after the first word of this week's Haftora from the Book of Hoshea:

 

Hoshea (Hosea) 14:2 Return (Shuba), Israel, to HaShem your G-d because you have stumbled in your iniquity.

 

During these ten days we are obligated to do teshuva, to return (repent). In fact, some people call this Shabbat, Shabbat TeShuva since it is the Shabbat of the Ten Days of Repentance.[2]

 

The Jewish calendar is so designed that only one Shabbat can occur between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, during the Ten Days of Repentance. This makes this a very special time for repentance as it combines the power of Shabbat with the power of teshuva.

 

In order to help us make maximal use of this temendous opportunity, traditionally our Hakhamim[3] deliver an afternoon sermon that is intended to encourage returning to HaShem as well as inspire the community to ready themselves for the yamim tovim (the coming festivals). In the Orthodox world our Hakhamim treat their Shabbat Shuba sermons as their most important of the year. There’s a sense of anticipation you don’t feel any other time of the year, even on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.

 

Moreover, in one respect, the teshuva of Shabbat Shuba is loftier even than that of Yom Kippur, which, the Rambam[4] writes, is “the time of teshuva for all ... and is the time of forgiveness and pardon for Israel.” Never the less, since Shabbat is the day from which blessings for the following six weekdays are drawn, it follows that Shabbat Shuba, from which Yom Kippur is blessed, has a certain distinction that not even Yom Kippur possesses. That distinction is that Shabbat is the concept of delight, as stated: “You shall call Shabbat a ‘delight’.

 

Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 58:13 If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of HaShem, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: 14 Then shalt thou delight thyself in HaShem; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of HaShem hath spoken it.

 

We learn from Rav Tzaddok Hakohen that the Shabbat before any holiday contains that holiday’s essence, and in this case that is most certainly true. On Shabbat Shuba, we can already feel the awe and joy of Yom Kippur.

 

Concerning the distinction of Shabbat Shuba over Yom Kippur: It can be inferred from the Zohar which states that all the days of the week are blessed from the preceding Shabbat, that Shabbat Shuba possesses a distinction that even Yom Kippur does not have, since Yom Kippur itself is blessed from Shabbat Shuba.

 

This understanding leads us to another question: Why does Rosh Hashana precede Yom Kippur?

 

Surely it is more appropriate to fast and repent on Yom Kippur, and only then sit in judgement on Rosh Hashana, when HaShem weighs our sins and merits! We can address this question by noting that Rosh Hashana is a day of accepting HaShem as our King, and Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement, when we repent for our sins. Once we fully accept that HaShem is our Lord, then repentance is inevitable. Therefore, it is most fitting for Rosh Hashanna should come before Yom Kippur. Thus we understand why Shabbat Shuba comes between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. This is the perfect opportunity to return to HaShem while He is near and we have accepted His sovereignty.

 

Torah Readings

 

Torah reading includes the regular weekly Torah portion and a special Haftorah .

 

Ashkenazim read:

Hoshea 14:2-10 and Yoel 2:15-27.

 

Sephardim read:

Hoshea 14:2-10 and Micah 7:18-20.

 

The portion from Hoshea (Hosea) focuses on a call for repentance, and an assurance that those who return to HaShem will benefit from Divine healing and restoration. The selection from Yoel (Joel) tells us how a blow of the shofar that will unite the people for fasting and supplication. Hoshea focuses on Divine forgiveness, and how great it is in comparison to the forgiveness of man.

 

Other than the special Ashlamatot (Haftorah), the service on Shabbat Shuba is not materially different from a regular Shabbat. There are some minor prayer changes. 

 

Special Ashlamatot[5] for Shabbat Shuba:

 

Hosea 14:2-10 1 (14-2) Return, O Israel, unto HaShem thy G-d; for thou hast stumbled in thine iniquity. 2 (14-3) Take with you words, and return unto HaShem; say unto Him: ‘Forgive all iniquity, and accept that which is good; so will we render for bullocks the offering of our lips. 3 (14-4) Asshur shall not save us; we will not ride upon horses; neither will we call any more the work of our hands our gods; for in Thee the fatherless findeth mercy.’4 ¶ (14-5) I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely; for Mine anger is turned away from him. 5 (14-6) I will be as the dew unto Israel; he shall blossom as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon. 6 (14-7) His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive-tree, and his fragrance as Lebanon. 7 (14-8) They that dwell under his shadow shall again make corn to grow, and shall blossom as the vine; the scent thereof shall be as the wine of Lebanon. 8 ¶ (14-9) Ephraim shall say: ‘What have I to do any more with idols?’ As for Me, I respond and look on him; I am like a leafy cypress-tree; from Me is thy fruit found. 9 (14-10) Whoso is wise, let him understand these things, whoso is prudent, let him know them. For the ways of HaShem are right, and the just do walk in them; but transgressors do stumble therein.

 

Micah 7:18-20 Who is a G-d like unto Thee, that pardoneth the iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He retaineth not His anger for ever, because He delighteth in mercy.19 He will again have compassion upon us; He will subdue our iniquities; and Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.20 Thou wilt show faithfulness to Jacob, mercy to Abraham, as Thou hast sworn unto our fathers from the days of old.

 

Shabbat Shuba Deeds

 

The Sefat Emet[6] writes that one should strengthen their observance of mitzvot and performance of good deeds specifically on this Shabbat. He quotes the Talmud:

 

Shabbat 118b Rab Judah said in Rab's name: Had Israel kept the first Sabbath, no nation or tongue would have enjoyed dominion over them, for it is said,[7] 'And it came to pass on the seventh day, that there went out some of the people to gather' which is followed by,[8] 'Then came Amalek.'

 

Before the first Shabbat the Jewish people spent in the desert after their departure from Egypt, Moshe informed them that manna would not fall on Shabbat. Instead, double portions would fall on Friday, and the extra portion would be for use on Shabbat. However, two people conspired to undermine this command that Moshe gave to the people. Early on Shabbat, they went and scattered manna they had collected from the day before, in violation of the laws of Shabbat and HaShem’s command. They hoped that the people, upon arising and going outdoors, would see the manna and feel that Moshe's instructions were wrong. Birds thwarted the plot by eating the manna before anyone saw it. However, on this very first Shabbat, people desecrated the day’s sanctity. Because the nation of Israel in its entirety did not observe the first Shabbat, the Talmud says, they were soon subject to attack by Amalek and many other nations since.

 

The Sefat Emet explains that we have an opportunity to rectify this situation. If we observe the first Shabbat of the year properly, we can assure that the nation of Israel will not suffer at the hand of another nation this year. We, together, by protecting the sanctity of Shabbat, by spending the day engaged in spiritual pursuits, can bring great good to all. We can undo that oppression which was brought upon us in the days of our ancestors. All it requires is just one Shabbat, and that Shabbat is Shabbat Shuba.

 

* * *

 

Rav Chida (Rav Chaim Yoseif David Azulai, 1724-1806) writes that while on every Shabbat of the year we are not to engage in idle chatter and such, we should be especially careful on Shabbat shuba. We do this in order to set the precedent for the coming year. We should be extra careful on our speech, and on the things that we say. The Pasuk writes, ‘Vedaber Davar’ and we learn from there, that we have to be careful about what we say on Shabbat. It must be Divre[9] Torah and only things of Kedusha.[10]

 

* * *

 

Halacha says that on this Shabbat, we say ‘Tzidkatecha’ in Mincha,[11] and on Motsei Shabbat,[12] the halacha also says that when Yom Kippur and Succoth fall out in the same week, we do not say ‘Yoshev Beseter Elyon.’ On motsei Shabbat. We go straight to ‘Vata Kadosh.’ Furthermore on Motsei Shabbat, we should be careful to have a milave malka (4th meal after Arbit[13]). Even though we are careful all year around to have the fourth meal with bread, we have to be extra careful on this Motsei Shabbat to follow the halacha of having bread on motsei Shabbat in order to add that to our zechuyot.

 

Dates for Shabbat Shuba

 

·       September 10, 2010 (Tishri 3, 5771)

·       September 30, 2011 (Tishri 3, 5772)

·       September 21, 2012 (Tishri 6, 5773)

·       September 06, 2013 (Tishri 3, 5774)

 

Midrash Pesiqta de Rab Kahana for Shabbat Shuba: Pisqa Twenty-Four

 

Return O Israel to the Lord your G-d, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity. Take with you words and return to the Lord and say to him, Take away all iniquity; accept that which is good, and we will render the fruit of our lips. Assyria shall not save us, we will not ride upon horses; and we will say no more, Our G-d to the work of our hands. In you the orphan finds mercy (Hosea 14:1-3).

 

XXIV:I

 

Is a shofar blown in a city and the people are not afraid? Does evil befall a city [unless the Lord has done it?] (Amos 3:6): The matter may be compared to the case of a town besieged by marauders, in which there was an elder who would warn all the people of the town [about the danger]. Whoever listened to him was saved, and whoever did not listen was overcome by the guerillas, who killed him. So it is written: So you, son of man, I have made a watchman for the house of Israel; [whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me] (Ez. 33:7). If I say to the wicked, O wicked man, you shall surely die, [and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked to turn from his way and he does not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity, but you will have saved your life] (Ez. 33:8). So too: Is a shofar blown in a city on the New Year, ... and the people are not afraid: this refers to Israel. Does evil befall a city unless the Lord has done it? (Amos 3:6): The Holy One, blessed be He, does not want the death of the wicked, in line with the following verse: As I live, says the Lord G-d, I have no desire for the death of the wicked. [I would rather that a wicked man should mend his ways and live. Give up your evil ways, give them up, O Israelites, why should you die?] (Ez. 33:11). [In Aramaic:] "O people, what do I want from you, but Give up your evil ways, give them up, O Israelites. There are those who prefer to derive the same lesson from the following: Seek me and live (Amos 5:4). [In Aramaic]: "O people, what do I want of you, but: Seek me and live,” Therefore Hosea admonishes Israel, saying to them, Return O Israel to the Lord your G-d, [for you have stumbled because of your iniquity. Take with you words and return to the Lord and say to him, Take away all iniquity; accept that which is good, and we will render the fruit of our lips. Assyria shall not save us, we will not ride upon horses; and we will say no more, Our G-d to the work of our hands. In you the orphan finds mercy].[14]

 

XXIV:II

 

By awesome deeds answer us with victory, O G-d of our deliverance, [in whom men trust from the ends of the earth and far-off seas; you are girded with strength and by your might you fix the mountains in their place, calm the rage of the seas and their raging waves. The dwellers at the ends of the earth hold your signs in awe; you make morning and evening sing aloud in triumph]:[15] R. Judah in the name of R. Isaac: "The awesome deeds that you have done with us in this world are [recompense] for the suffering that you bring upon us in this world." R. Haggai in the name of R. Isaac: "The awesome deeds that you are destined to do with us in this world are [recompense] for the suffering that you bring upon us in this world."

 

...in whom men trust from the ends of the earth: You are the trust of [even] strong men who [wrongly] call on your name too.[16] Wayfarers trust in your name, seafarers trust in your name, those who go forth on caravans trust in your name.

 

... far-off seas: R. Hinena bar Pappa asked R. Samuel bar Nahman, saying to him, "What is the meaning of the phrase, far-off seas?” He said to him, "Repentance is compared to a sea. Just as a sea is eternally open, so the gates of repentance are eternally open. And prayer is to be compared to a purification-pool. Just as a purification pool sometimes is open, sometimes locked, so the gates of prayer sometimes are open, sometimes are locked. Just as in the case of a purification-pool, sometimes someone may wish to immerse himself but finds his father or his master there and is embarrassed and goes away ... But in the case of the sea, he just goes a short distance away and goes down and immerses [without having to come back some other day].”

 

R. Berekhiah, R. Helob in the name of R. Anan bar Yose: “Even the gates of prayer are always open.” That view accords with what R. Yose bar Halapta said, “There are particular times for prayer: David came along and spelled them out: But as for me, may my prayer be for you, O Lord, at a propitious time:[17] Said David before the Holy One, blessed be He, ‘Lord of the ages, when I pray before you, may it be a propitious time,’”

 

G-d, in the abundance of your mercy, answer me with your true salvation:[18] It has been taught on Tannaite authority in the name of R. Eliezer, "The Lord is the purification pool of Israel:[19] Just as a purification pool purifies the unclean, so the Holy One, blessed be He, purifies Israel." Therefore Hosea admonishes Israel saying to them, Return O Israel [to the Lord your G-d, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity. Take with you words and return to the Lord and say to him, Take away all iniquity; accept that which is good, and we will render the fruit of our lips. Assyria shall not save us, we will not ride upon horses; and we will say no more, Our G-d to the work of our hands. In you the orphan finds mercy].[20]

 

XXIV:III

 

The Lord thunders before his host, [his is a mighty army, countless are those who do his bidding. Great is the day of the Lord and terrible, who can endure it? And yet, the Lord says, even now turn back to men with your whole heart, fast and weep and beat your breasts, rend your hearts and not your garments, turn back to the Lord your G-d; for he is gracious and compassionate, long-suffering and ever constant, always ready to repent of the threatened evil. It may be he will turn back and repent and leave a blessing behind him]:[21]

 

The Lord thunders before his host: on the New Year. ... his is a mighty army: this refers to Israel. ... countless are those who do his bidding: for he makes abundant the strength of the righteous who have done his will. Great is the day of the Lord and terrible: this refers to the Day of Atonement. ...who can endure it.

 

For said R. Qerispa [Chrispus] in the name of R. Yohanan, "There are three account books, one for the completely righteous, one for the completely wicked, and one for the in-betweens. These are for eternal life:[22] Said Rabbi, "This refers to the completely righteous." These are for shame and eternal derision:[23] This refers to the completely wicked. They are blotted out of the book (Ps. 69:29): These are the wicked. ...of the living: these are the righteous. ...and with the righteous they are not inscribed: these are the in­-betweens. To these the Holy One, blessed be He, has given the ten days between the New Year and the Day of Atonement. If they repent, they are inscribed with the righteous, and if not, there are inscribed with the wicked. Therefore Hosea admonishes Israel saying to them, Return O Israel to the Lord your G-d, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity. Take with you words and return to the Lord and say to him, Take away all iniquity; accept that which is good, and we will render the fruit of our lips. Assyria shall not save us, we will not ride upon horses; and we will say no more, Our G-d to the work of our hands. In you the orphan finds mercy.[24]

 

XXIV:IV

 

However angry your hearts, do not do wrong; though you lie abed [resentful, do not break silence; pay your due of sacrifice and trust in the Lord]:[25] R. Jacob bar Abinah and Rabbis: R. Jacob bar Abinah said, "[The sense is:] Let your impulse to do evil be angry with you, but do not let it make you sin." Rabbis said, "Make your impulse to do evil angry but do not come into the toils of sin."

 

It was taught on Tannaite authority in the name of R. Eleazar, "The purification-pool of Israel (Jer. 17:13): "Said the Holy One, blessed be He, to Israel, 'I have said to you to pray in the synagogue that is in your town, and if not, then you can pray in your field, and if not, then you can pray in your house, and if not then you can pray in your bed, and if not, you can meditate in your heart.'"

 

...though you lie abed resentful, [do not break silence}: Said R. Yudan, "Keep silence from that transgression that is in your hand." Therefore Hosea admonishes Israel saying to them, Return 0 Israel [to the Lord your G-d, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity. Take with you words and return to the Lord and say to him. Take away all iniquity; accept that which is good, and we will render the fruit of our lips. Assyria shall not save us, we will not ride upon horses; and we will say no more, Our G-d to the work of our hands. In you the orphan finds mercy].[26]

 

XXIV:V

 

The sacrifices of G-d are a broken spirit, a wounded heart, [O G-d, you will not despise. Let it be your pleasure to do good to Zion, to build anew the walls of Jerusalem. Then only shall you delight in the appointed sacrifices, then shall young bulls be offered on your altar]:[27] Zabedee bar Levi and R. Yose bar Paitres and rabbis: One said, “Said David before the Holy One, blessed be He, ‘Lord of the ages, If you accept me as a penitent, I know that my son, Solomon, is going to go and build the sanctuary and offer on it all of the required offerings.’ It is in accord with this verse of Scripture: The sacrifices of G-d are a broken spirit, a wounded heart, [O G-d, you will not despise. Let it be your pleasure to do good to Zion, to build a new the walls of Jerusalem. Then only shall you delight in the appointed sacrifices, then shall young bulls be offered on your altar].[28] And I know that you will do good to Zion, to build a new the walls of Jerusalem. Then only shall you delight in the appointed sacrifices, then shall young bulls be offered on your altar].[29]’”

 

Another said, "How do we know of one who carries out penitence that the Holy One, blessed be He, regards it as though he had gone up to Jerusalem, built the house of the sanctuary, built the altar, and offered on it all required offerings? It is in accord with this verse of Scripture: The sacrifices of G-d are a broken spirit, a wounded heart, O G-d, you will not despise. And it is further written: Let it be your pleasure to do good to Zion, to build a new the walls of Jerusalem. Then only shall you delight in the appointed sacrifices, [then shall young bulls be offered on your altar].[30]

 

Rabbis said, “How do we know of him who passes before the ark [to recite the communal prayers] that he has to make mention of the building of the house of the sanctuary and of the offerings and also to mediate? It is on the basis of this blessing: ‘Favor us, O our G-d, and dwell in Zion, your city, and may your children serve you in Jerusalem.’”

 

Said R. Abba bar Yudan, “Whatever blemish G-d has declared in the case of a beast, he has declared valid in the case of a man. Just as he declared invalid in the case of a beast to be brought for a sacrifice one that was blind or broken,[31] so he declared the same valid in the case of a man: a broken spirit, a wounded heart, (O G-d, you will not despise.]”

 

Said R. Alexandri, “In the case of an ordinary person, if he should make use of a broken pot, it is demeaning to him. But as to the Holy One, blessed be He, all the utensils that he uses are broken, as it is written, The Lord is near those of broken heart,[32] he heals broken hearts,[33] I dwell in the high and holy place with him that is of a contrite and humble spirit,[34] a broken spirit, a wounded heart, 0 G-d, you will not despise.[35]" Therefore Hosea admonishes Israel saying to them, Return O Israel [to the Lord your G-d, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity. Take with you words and return to the Lord and say to him, Take away all iniquity; accept that which is good, and we will render the fruit of our lips. Assyria shall not save us, we will not ride upon horses; and we will say no more, Our G-d to the work of our hands. In you the orphan finds mercy].[36]

 

XXIV:VI

 

Behold (then] G-d builds a man's strength, who is a teacher like him:[37] Said R. Berekhiah, “The word behold (HN) is Greek, hina, meaning one, as you say, One is our G-d. ... G-d builds a man's strength: For he adds to the strength of the righteous, who carry out his will. ...who is a teacher like him: teacher for the sinners, telling them to carry out repentance. Therefore Hosea admonishes Israel saying to them, Return O Israel [to the Lord your G-d, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity. Take with you words and return to the Lord and say to him, Take away all iniquity; accept that which is good, and we will render the fruit of our lips. Assyria shall not save us, we will not ride upon horses; and we will say no more, Our G-d to the work of our hands. In you the orphan finds mercy].[38]

 

XXIV:VII

 

Good and upright is the Lord, because he teaches sinners in the way:[39] They asked wisdom, "As to the sinner, what is his punishment?" She said to them, "Evil pursues sinners.[40]" They asked prophecy, "As to the sinner, what is his punishment?" She said to them, "The soul that sins shall die.[41]" They asked the Torah, "As to the sinner, what is his punishment?" She said to them, "Let him bring a guilt-offering and it will attain atonement for him." They asked the Holy One, blessed be He, "As to the sinner, what is his punishment?" He said to them, "Let him repent, and it will attain atonement for him," That is in line with the verse of Scripture: Good and upright is the Lord, because he teaches sinners in the way.[42]

 

[Good and upright is the Lord, because he teaches sinners in the way:[43]] Said R. Phineas, "Why is he good? Because he is upright. Why is he upright? Because he is good."

 

... because he teaches sinners in the way:[44] For he teaches sinners the way in which to repent. Therefore Hosea admonishes Israel saying to them, Return O Israel [to the Lord your G-d, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity. Take with you words and return to the Lord and say to him, Take away all iniquity; accept that which is good, and we will render the fruit of our lips. Assyria shall not save us, we will not ride upon horses; and we will say no more, Our G-d to the work of our hands. In you the orphan finds mercy].[45]

 

XXIV:VIII

 

Conceal your faults and you will not prosper; [confess and give them up and you will find mercy]:[46] R. Simeon, R. Joshua b. Levi in the name of R. Simeon b. Halapta: "In the case of all plants the roots of which you cover up, they will flourish. But in the case of a nut tree, if you cover up its roots, it will not prosper. The matter may be compared to the case of a mugger on trial before a magistrate. So long as he denies the crime, he is flogged. Once he confesses, he receives the decree. But the Holy One, blessed be He, is not that way. But before one confesses, he gives out the decree. Once one confesses, he provides forgiveness. That is in line with this verse of Scripture: Conceal your faults and you will not prosper; [confess and give them up and you will find mercy].[47]"

 

Said R. Judah, "...confess and give them up and you will find mercy." Therefore Hosea admonishes Israel saying to them, Return O Israel to the Lord your G-d, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity. Take with you words and return to the Lord and say to him, Take away all iniquity; accept that which is good, and we will render the fruit of our lips. Assyria shall not save us, we will not ride upon horses; and we will say no more, Our G-d to the work of our hands. In you the orphan finds mercy.[48]

 

XXIV:IX

 

A man shall have his fill of good by the fruit of his mouth:[49] It is written, When Reuben returned to the pit [and saw that Joseph was not in the pit, he tore his clothes and returned to his brothers and said, The lad is gone, and I, where shall I go?' Then they took Joseph's robe and slaughtered a goat and dipped the robe in the blood, and they sent the long robe with sleeves and brought it to their father and said, This we have found; see now whether it is your son's robe or not'}]:[50] R. Eliezer, R. Joshua, and Rabbis: [Where had he been?] R. Eliezer says, "He had been occupied with his sackcloth and ashes [on account of his earlier sin with his father's concubine][51], and when he had a free moment from his sack cloth and ashes, he went and looked into the pit. That is in line with this verse: And behold Joseph was not in the pit." R. Joshua said, "All of the management of the household was assigned to him. When he had a moment free of the cares of management of the household, he went and looked into the pit. That is in line with this verse: And behold Joseph was not in the pit." And rabbis said, "Said the Holy One, blessed be He, to him, 'You sought to restore the beloved son to his father. By your life, your son's son will restore Israel to their father in heaven. And who is that? It is Hosea.' The word of the Lord which came to Hosea ben Beeri,[52] and it is written, his son Beerah.[53]"

 

Why is he called Beeri? Because he is the well (beerah) of the Torah. And why did Beerah die in exile? So that the ten tribes should return on account of his merit. And why did Moses die in the wilderness? So that the generation of the wilderness should return on account of his merit.

 

R. Berekhiah said, "Said the Holy One, blessed be He, to him, 'You have opened the way to repentance first of all. By your life, the son of your son will come and open the way to repentance first of all: "Return O Israel [to the Lord your G-d, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity. Take with you words and return to the Lord and say to him, Take away all iniquity; accept that which is good, and we will render the fruit of our lips. Assyria shall not save us, we will not ride upon horses; and we will say no more, Our G-d to the work of our hands. In you the orphan finds mercy] (Hosea 14:1-3).

 

XXIV:X

 

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, [and your ways are not my ways This is the very word of the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts] (Is. 55:8-9): The matter may be compared to the case of a thug on trial before a magistrate. First he reads the charge, then he beats him, then he puts a bit in his mouth [so that he cannot retract his confession], then he lays down the verdict, then he goes forth to be put to death. But the Holy One, blessed be He, is not that way. First he announces the charge against the tribes: Now they sin more and more and have made molten images of their silver (Hos. 13:2). Then he beats them: Ephraim is beaten, their root is dried up (Hos. 9:16). Then he puts a bit in their mouth: The iniquity of Ephraim is bound up, his sin is stored up (Hos. 13:12). Then he announces the verdict: Samaria shall bear her guilt for she has rebelled against her G-d (Hos. 14:1). And then he draws them back in repentance: Return O Israel to the Lord your G-d, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity. Take with you words and return to the Lord and say to him, Take away all iniquity; accept that which is good, and we will render the fruit of our lips. Assyria shall not save us, we will not ride upon horses; and we will say no more, Our G-d to the work of our hands. In you the orphan finds mercy (Hosea 14:1-3).

 

XXIV:XI

 

What is written prior to [the base-verse, Hos. 14:2]? It is the following: Samaria shall bear her guilt [for she has rebelled against her G-d] (Hos. 14:1). And thereafter: Return O Israel [to the Lord your G-d, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity. Take with you words and return to the Lord and say to him, Take away all iniquity; accept that which is good, and we will render the fruit of our lips. Assyria shall not save us, we will not ride upon horses; and we will say no more, Our G-d to the work of our hands. In you the orphan finds mercy] (Hosea 14:1-3). R. Eleazar in the name of R. Samuel bar Nahman: "The matter may be compared to the case of a town that rebelled against the king, who sent against it a general of the army to destroy it. The general was skilled and cool. He said to them, 'Take time for yourselves, so that the king not do to you what he did to such-and-such a town and its environs, and to such and such a district and its area.' So said Hosea to Israel, 'My children, repent, so that the Holy One, blessed be He, will not do to you what he did to Samaria and its environs.' Said Israel before the Holy One, blessed be He, 'Lord of the ages, if we repent, will you accept us?' He said to them, 'The repentance of Cain I accepted, will I not accept yours?' For a harsh decree was issued against him." That is in line with this verse of Scripture: When you till the ground, it will no more yield its strength to you; a fugitive and a wanderer shall you be (Gen. 4:12). But since he repented, he was relieved of half of the harsh decree. How do we know that he repented? And Cain said to the Lord, Too great is my sin for me to bear it (Gen. 4:13). And how do we know that he was relieved of half of the harsh decree? And Cain went away from the presence of the Lord and dwelled in the land of the wanderer (Gen. 4: 17). What is written is not in the land of the fugitive and the wanderer, but only, in the land of the wanderer, to the east of Eden. What is the meaning of And Cain went away [from the presence of the Lord]? R. Yudan in the name of R. Aibu said, "He shouted over the shoulder and went away, as if to deceive the ones above. [Freedman, Genesis Rabbah, p. 192, n. 1: He rejected G-d's reproof, as though murder was a light matter.]" R. Berekhiah in the name of R. Eleazarb. R. Simeon: "He went away like the [pig] that shows a cloven hoof [pretending to be a valid animal, when it is not,] like one who would deceive the creator." R. Hunah in the name of R. Hinena bar Isaac said, "He went out rejoicing, in line with this verse: He goes forth to meet you and when he sees you, he will be glad in his heart (Ex. 4: 14). Adam met him and said to him, 'What happened at your trial?' He said to him, ‘I repented and am reconciled.' Then Adam began to beat on his face: 'So great is the power of repentance, and I never knew it!' He forthwith went and said: It is a good thing to confess to the Lord (Ps. 92:1)." Said R. Levi, "It was Adam who stated this psalm: A Psalm for the Sabbath day (Ps. 92:1).

 

"And shall I not accept your repentance? I accepted the repentance of Ahab, and shall I not accept your repentance?" For a harsh decree was issued against him, in line with this verse: You shall speak to him saying, Have you killed and also taken possession? And you shall speak to him saying Thus says the Lord: In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick your blood, even yours (1 Kgs. 21 :29).

 

And it came to pass when Ahab heard these words that he tore his clothes and put sackcloth on his flesh and fasted and lay in sackcloth (1 Kgs. 21:27). How did he fast? If he was accustomed to eat at three hours, he would eat at six, and if he was accustomed to eat at six, he ate at nine. What is the meaning of And he walked softly?(1 Kgs. 21:29) R. Joshua b. Levi said, "He went barefooted." What is written there? The word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite saying, Do you see that Ahab humbles himself before me? Because he humbles himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his days (1 Kgs. 21:28-29). Said the Holy One, blessed be He, to Elijah, "You have seen that Ahab repented: Do you see that Ahab humbles himself before me? {Because he humbles himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his days.]

 

"And shall 1 not accept your repentance? I accepted the repentance of the men of Anathoth, and shall I not accept your repentance? For a harsh decree was issued against them: Thus says the Lord concerning the men of Anathoth who seek your life. saying You shall not prophesy in the name of the Lord that you die not by our hand: therefore thus says the Lord, Behold I will punish them ... there shall be no remnant of them (Jer. 11:21, 23). But when they repented, they had the merit of producing descendants: Themen of Anathoth a hundred and twenty-eight (Ezra 2:23).

 

"And shall 1 not accept your repentance? I accepted the repentance of the men of Nineveh, and shall 1 not accept your repentance?" For a harsh decree was issued against them, in line with this verse of Scripture: Jonah began to enter into the city a day's journey [and he proclaimed and said, Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown] (Jonah 3:4). And the tidings reached the king of Nineveh and he arose from his throne and laid his robe from him and covered himself with sackcloth and proclaimed through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles. saying, ['Let neither man nor beast ... taste anything; let them not feed nor drink water; but let them be covered with sackcloth both man and beast and let them cry mightily to G-d'] (Jonah 3:7-8). Said R. Simeon b. Laqish, "The men of Nineveh carried out an essentially deceitful repentance. What did they do? R. Huniah in the name of R. Simeon b. Halputa: "They set up calves inside with their mothers outside, and these lowed from inside and the mothers from outside, so these groaned on this side and those on that side. They said, if you do not have mercy on us, we shall not have mercy on them.'" Said R. Aha, "This is what they do also in Arabia: How are the beasts groaning! the herds of cattle are confused [because they have no pasture] (Joel 1:18)."

 

... but let them be covered with sackcloth both man and beast and let them cry mightily to G-d' (Jonah 3:7-8): What is the meaning of mightily? Said R. Simeon b. Halputa, "The impudent one conquers even the wicked one, all the more so the One who is the goodness of the world."

 

Let them turn everyone [from his evil way. from the violence that is in their hands] (Jonah 3:8): Said R. Yohanan, "What they had in hand they returned, but what they had put away in boxes, arks, and cupboards they did not return." And rend your hearts and not your garments (Joel 2:13): Said R. Joshua b. Levi, "If you rend your hearts in repentance, you will not have to render your garments on account of the death of your sons and daughters. Why not? "Because he is merciful and long-suffering (Joel 2:13)." R. Aha and R. Tanhum in the name of R. Hiyya in the name of R. Yohanan, "What is written is not long-suffering [in the singular] but longer-suffering [in the dual], indicating that he is patient with the righteous but also patient with the wicked. He is patient with the righteous and collects from them the modicum on account of the bad deeds which they did in this world so as to give them their full and complete reward in the world to come. And he accords prosperity to the wicked in this world so as to give them the modicum of the reward for the good deeds that they have done in this world in order to exact from them full and complete penalty in the world to come." R. Samuel bar Nahman in the name of R. Yohanan: "What is written is not long-suffering [in the singular] but longer-suffering [in the dual], indicating that he is patient before he comes to collect [exacting punishment], and what he comes to collect, he extends the time [same word as patience] for collecting payment." Said R. Hanina, "Whoever has said that the All-Merciful is [loose in] forgiving will get loose bowels. But he is indeed patient but then collects what is coming to him." Said R. Levi, "What is the meaning of long-suffering? He is very far from anger. The matter may be compared to the case of a king who had two tough legions. Said the king, 'If the legions stay with me in the town, then when the townsfolk make me angry, they will take off on their own against them and wipe them out. Lo, I shall send them some distance away. If the people make me angry, while I am still sending for them, the people will come and make their peace with me, and I shall accept their appeasement.'

 

X. "That is in line with this verse of Scripture: They come from a country far away, from the end of heaven the weapons of his indignation (Is. 13:5)." Said R. Isaac, "And not only so, but he locks the gate against [his own legions], in line with this verse of Scripture: The Lord has unlocked his armory and has brought forth the weapons of his indignation (Jer. 50:25). While he is opening up, while he is still occupied, his mercy will be aroused. "

 

It was taught on Tannaite authority in the name of R. Meir, "For lo, the Lord goes forth from his place (Is. 26:21). He goes forth from the attribute of justice to the attribute of mercy for Israel."

 

"I accepted the repentance of Manasseh, and shall I not accept your repentance?" For a harsh decree was issued against him. This is in line with this verse of Scripture: The Lord spoke to Manasseh and to his people but they did not listen. Therefore the Lord brought upon them the captains of the host of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh with hooks (2 Chr. 33:10, 11). What is the meaning of hooks? R. Abba bar Kahana said, "Manacles." And they imprisoned him in fetters (2 Chr. 33:11): What are fetters? R. Levi bar Haita, "They made him a kind of copper pot and made holes in it and put him into it and began to heat it from beneath. And when the pain of it began to affect him, there was not a single idol in the world on which he did not call: 'idol of so-and-so, come and save me.' But when nothing helped, he said, 'I remember that father would recite for me this verse: In your distress when all these things come upon you in the end of days return to the Lord your G-d and listen to his voice, for the Lord your G-d is a merciful G-d, he will not fail you nor destroy you (Deut. 4:30, 31). Lo, I shall call on him. If he answers me, well and good, and if not, then they're all alike.' Now the ministering angels were closing the windows of the firmament, so that the prayer of Manasseh would not come before the Holy One, blessed be He, 'Lord of the ages, a man who set up an idol in the temple - should such a man be able to repent?’ Said to them the Holy One, blessed be He, 'If I do not accept him in repentance, I shall lock the door before all those who come to repent.' What did the Holy One, blessed be He, do for him? He dug a little opening under the throne of glory that was his, and through it he listened to his supplication. That is in line with this verse of Scripture: And he prayed to the Lord and he was entreated of him (2 Chr. 33:13). "What is written in the verse for the word for entreat is dug for him." And he listened to his supplications (2 Chr. 33:13): Said R. Eleazar b. R. Simeon, "In Arabia they shift the ayin for a het [so yielding the word-exchange just now cited]."

 

And he brought him back to Jerusalem to his kingdom (2 Chr. 33:13): How did he he bring him back?. R. Samuel bar Nahman in the name of R. Aha: "He brought him back with a wind, as you say [in the Prayer], Who brings back the wind.'" Manasseh knew that the Lord is G-d (2 Chr. 33:13): At that time said Manasseh, "There is justice and a Judge." "I accepted the repentance of Jeconiaiah, and shall I not accept your repentance?"

 

"I accepted the repentance of Jeconaiah, and shall I not accept your repentance?" For a harsh decree was issued against him. That is in line with the following verse of Scripture: Is this man Coniah a despised, broken pot, a vessel no one cares for? Why are he and his children hurled and cast into a land which they do not know? (Jer. 22:28). R. Abba bar Kahana said, "[A broken pot] is like a bone of marrow, which, when you break it open, turns out to be worthless." R. Helbo said, "It is like a date wrapper, which, when you shake it out, turns out to contain nothing."

 

 ... a vessel no one cares for: R. Hama b. R. Hanina said, "It may be compared to a piss pot." R. Samuel bar Nachman: "[It is] like a vessel of those who take blood." Said R. Meir, "The Holy One, blessed be He, took an oath that he would not bring from Jeonaiah son of Jehoiakim, another king of Judah, in line with this verse: As I live says the Lord, if Coniah the son of Jehoiakim were the signet on a hand, yet by my right hand I would pluck you hence (Jer. 22:24). R. Hinena bar Isaac said, "'From there [that is, from Jeconaiah] I shall pull up the kingdom from the house of David.'" Another explanation: What is written is not I shall remove you but rather I shall restore you; the meaning is, 'From there I shall restore in you in repentance.' The source of his retribution turned into the source of his restoration." Said R. Zeira, I heard something from R. Ishmael b. R. Isaac, who expounded the present passage, but I don't remember what it was." Said to him R. Aha arika, "Perhaps this is what it was: Thus says the Lord, Write this man as childless, a man who will not prosper in his days [for none of his offspring shall succeed in sitting on the throne of David and ruling again in Judah] (Jer. 22:30)." He said to him, "Yes, in his days he will not succeed, but in the days of his son he will succeed." R. Aha bar Abun bar Benjamin in the name of R. Abba son of R. Pappi: "Great is the power of repentance for it annulled both an oath and a decree. How do we know that it annulled an oath? As I live says the Lord, if Coniah the son of Jehoiakim were the signet on a hand, yet by my right hand I would pluck you hence (Jer. 22:24). Yet it is written, In that day says the Lord of hosts I will take you 0 Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel, [and make you as a signet] (Haggai 2:23). And how do we know that it annulled a decree? It is written, Thus says the Lord, Write this man as childless, [a man who will not prosper in his days for none of his offspring shall succeed in sitting on the throne of David and ruling again in Judah] (Jer. 22:30). Yet it is written, The sons of Jeconiah, Assir Shealtiel, his son (1 Chr. 3:17)."

 

Said R. Tanhum bar Jeremiah, 'The meaning of the name Assir is that he was imprisoned in a prison [with the same letters serving the name Assir and the word for prison]. Shealtiel; For from him a sapling of the kingdom of the house of David was planted. Said R. Tanhuma, "Assir [the prisoner] refers to the Holy One, blessed be He, who imprisoned himself through an oath. Shealtiel [which uses the letters for the world for ask] is because G-d brought the question of the validity of the oath to the heavenly court, which released him from his vow."

 

XXIV:XII

 

R. Judah the Patriarch in the name of R. Judah bar Simon: "Under ordinary circumstances if someone shoots an arrow, it may go a distance of a kor or two. But so great is the power of repentance that it reaches the throne of glory." Said R. Yose, "It is written, Open to me (Song 5:2). Said the Holy One, blessed be He, Open to me an opening as small as a hole of a needle and I shall open for you a space through which military camps and siege engines can enter." R. Tanhuma in the name of R. Haninah, R. Aibu in the name of R. Simeon b. Laqish: "Repent for a brief moment and know that I am the Lord (Ps. 46:11)." Said R. Levi, "If the Israelites repented for a single day, they would be redeemed. What verse of Scripture makes that point? [He tends one flock in his care.] Today if you listen to his voice (Ps. 95:7)." Said R. Judah bar Simon, "Return, Israel, to the Lord your G-d (Hosea 14:2), even if you have denied the very principle [of the faith]." Said R. Eleazar, "Under ordinary circumstances, if someone humiliates his fellow in public and after a while wants to conciliate him, the other says, 'Are you going to humiliate me in public and then conciliate me in private? Go and bring those people before whom you humiliated me and in their presence I shall be conciliated with you.' But the Holy One, blessed be He, is not that way. Rather, a person may go and blaspheme and curse in the market place but the Holy One, blessed be He, says to him to repent 'even between you and me and I shall accept you.'"

 

XXIV:XIII

 

R. Issachar of Kefar Mindi expounded, "For he knows false men, indeed he sees iniquity, and will he not consider it? (Job 11:11): "Under ordinary circumstances if a person does heaps and heaps of transgressions, but if he repents, it is as if indeed he sees iniquity, and will not consider it."

 

It was taught on Tannaite authority in the name of R. Meir: "Return O Israel [to the Lord your G-d]: "[Since the name, Lord, stands for the attribute of mercy, and your G-d for the attribute of justice,] return while he is still subject to the attribute of mercy, and if not, then he is your G-d. Do it before the defense attorney is made into your prosecutor."

 

XXIV:XIV

 

Samuel Patrigrisa in the name of R. Meir: Rejoice O young man in your youth [and walk in the ways of your heart] (Qoh. 11:9)." Said R. Samuel b. R. Isaac, "Sages proposed to hide away the scroll of Qohelet, for they found in it[s teachings] matters that tended toward heresy. They said, 'Lo, is this the whole of Solomon's wisdom, which he came along to teach: Rejoice, 0 young man, in your youth, [and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth; walk in the ways of your heart and the sight of your eyes. But know that for all these things, G-d will bring you into judgment] (Qoh. 11 :9)? But Moses stated, ... not to follow after your own heart and your own eyes, [which you are inclined to go after wantonly]' (Num. 15:39), and yet [Solomon] has said, Walk in the ways of your heart and the sight of your eyes! [Accordingly, he would imply] there is neither justice nor a Judge, so the penalty of flogging has been annulled!' But when [Solomon further] stated, But know that for all these things, G-d will bring you judgment (Qoh. 11 :9), they stated, 'Well has Solomon spoken.'" R. Hiyya the Elder and R. Simeon b. Halapta: R. Hiyya the Elder said, "The matter may be compared to a bandit who was fleeing from a magistrate. They said to him, 'Cut down on running, so you won't be exhausted for the dragging [when they take you out to be sentenced].'

 

"But know that for all these things, G-d will bring you judgment (Qoh. 11:9)." R. Simeon b. Halapta said, "The matter may be compared to the case of someone who was swimming. They said to him, 'Cut down on the trip out, so you won't be too tired for the trip back.' "But know that for all these things, G-d will bring you judgment (Qoh. 11:9)." Said R. Josiah, "The matter may be compared to the case of one who stole tax money. When he was caught, they said to him, 'Produce the tax money.' He said to them, 'Take it.' They said to him, 'What are you thinking? That we want only the money you stole this time? We want the money you stole every time.' "But know that for all these things, G-d will bring you judgment (Qoh. 11:9)." Said R. Levi, "The matter may be compared to the case of a bird caught in a cage, and his fellow stood near by and said to him, 'How lucky you are! How easy it is for your to get your food.' The other said to him, 'Are you looking at the food and not looking at the cage? "But know that for all these things, G-d will bring you judgment (Qoh. 11:9)." Said R. Tanhuma, "The matter may be compared to the case of a wise guy who went into a cafe and said to the owner, 'Give me wine, give me good quality bread, and fat meat.' When the man had eaten and drunk, he said to him, 'Pay up.' He said to him, 'Here is the belly of "that man," [me] before you - split it open [and take it all back].' He said to him, 'Is that how you think you're going to get away from me?' Now the restaurant-owner was smart. What did he do? He took the man and wrapped him up in a reed mat and set him at the door of the cafe, and to whoever went by he would say, 'Attain merit [by giving money] for this corpse, because I want to buy him a decent burial.' A wise guy came by and asked, 'How long are you going to do this to him?’ He said to him, 'Until I get what is owing to me for the bill.' When the man had collected what was owing for the bill, he said to the other, 'Get up and go to your father's grave and say to him that you are going to reach a bad end.' "But know that for all these things, G-d will bring you judgment (Qoh. 11:9)."

 

XXIV:XV

 

R. Eleazar, son of R. Y ose the Galilean, says, "Israel said before the Holy One, blessed be He, 'Lord of the ages, if we repent, who will testify for us [that we have done so]?' He said to them, 'If when it comes to bad I testify for you, if it is for good shall I not testify for you?' "... when it comes to bad I testify for you: I will come near you to judgment and I will be a swift witness [against the sorcerers and against the adulterers] (Mal. 3:5). "...if it is for good shall I not testify for you?"

 

[These are the words of the Lord of hosts, the G-d of Israel, concerning Ahab son of Kolaiah and Zedekiah son of Maaseiah, who prophesy falsely to you in my name. I will hand them over to Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylonia, and he will put them to death before your eyes. Their names shall be used by all the exiles of Judea in Babylonia when they curse a man. They shall say, May the Lord treat you like Zedekiah and Ahab, whom the king of Babylonia roasted in fire. For their conduct in Israel was an outrage. They committed adultery with other men's wives and without my authority prophesied in my name, and what they prophesied was false. I know, I can testify. This is the very word of the Lord (Jer. 29:21-23):] Ahab son of Kolaiah and Zedekiah son of Maaseiah were false prophets and committed adultery with the wives of their fellows. That is in line with this verse: For their conduct in Israel was an outrage. They committed adultery with other men's wives and without my authority prophesied in my name, [and what they prophesied was false] (Jer. 29:23). What did they do? One of them would go to a woman and say to her, "I have seen by my prophetic gift that my fellow will come to you [and have sexual relations with you, so that] you will bring forth a prophet in Israel.” One would set things up for the other, and the other would set things up for the one. When a woman's time came to give birth, they went [even] to the wife of Nebuchadnezzar, saying to her thus and so. [Receiving their claim to produce a prophet also through her,] she said to them, "I can do nothing without the king's knowledge." When Nebuchadnezzar came, she told him the story. He said, "Is such a thing possible? The G-d of this nation hates fornication. Lo, I am going to test them just the way I tested Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. If they survive, well and good, and if not then they are false prophets.' What did he do? He made a kind of copper frying pan with holes, and put them in it, and began to heat it up from the bottom. When they saw that they were in real trouble, they implicated Joshua b. Yehosedeq, high priest, with them, saying, "Perhaps through his merit we too may be saved." What did the Holy One, blessed be He, do to them? They were burned up and he was saved: Is this one not a brand saved from the fire (Zech. 3:2). That is in line with this statement: Their names shall be used by all the exiles of Judea in Babylonia when they curse a man. [They shall say, May the Lord treat you like Zedekiah and Ahab, whom the king of Babylonia roasted in fire] (Jer 29:22) What is stated is not, whom the king of Babylonia burned, but rather, whom the king of Babylonia roasted in fire, like popcorn.

 

XXIV:XVI

 

R. Levi and R. Isaac: R. Levi said, "Said the Holy One, blessed be He, to Jeremiah, 'Go, say to Israel, Repent.' He went and said it to them. They said to him, 'Our lord, Jeremiah, how shall we repent? How shall we have the impudence to come before the Omnipresent? Have we not angered him, and have we not made him jealous? Those mountains and hills on which we served idols - do they not yet endure [to testify against us]? They sacrifice on the tops of mountains [and make offerings on the hills] (Hos. 4: 13). Let us lie down in our shame and let our confusion cover us (Jer. 3:25).' He went before the Holy One, blessed be He, and repeated this. He said to him, 'Go, tell them, 'Did I not write for you in my Torah, [The one who consults ghosts and familiar spirits to go astray after them -] I will set my face against that person and cast him off from among his people (Lev. 20:6)? Have I ever done so to you? Rather: I will not frown on you, for I am merciful, says the Lord. I will not bear a grudge forever (Jer. 3:12).'"

 

R. Isaac said, "Said the Holy One, blessed be He, to Jeremiah, 'Go, say to Israel, Repent.' He went and said it to them. They said to him, 'Our lord, Jeremiah, how shall we repent? How shall we have the impudence to come before the Omnipresent? Have we not angered him, and have we not made him jealous? Those mountains and hills on which we served idols - do they not yet endure [to testify against us]? They sacrifice on the tops of mountains [and make offerings on the hills] (Hos. 4: 13). Let us lie down in our shame [and let our confusion cover us] (Jer. 3:25).' "He went before the Holy One, blessed be He, and repeated this. He said to him, 'Go, tell them, 'If you come, is it not to your father who is in heaven that you are coming? [For so I have been a father for Israel, and Ephraim has been my first born] (Jer. 31:8).'"

 

XXIV:XVII

 

… for you have stumbled because of your iniquity (Hosea 14:2): Said R. Simon, "The matter may be compared to a tall rock, which was standing at a crossroads. People would stumble on it. Said the king to them, 'Cut it down little by little, so that when the time comes, I can remove it from the world.' So said the Holy One, blessed be He, to Israel, 'My children, the impulse to do evil is a great obstacle in the world. But cut it down little by little, so that when the time comes I shall remove it from the world.' That is in line with this verse: And I shall remove the stony heart from your flesh (Ez. 36:26)." Said R. Isaac, "As matters go in the world, if someone stumbles in transgression and he becomes liable for the death penalty at the hands of heaven, his ox may expire, his chicken perish, his flask break, he may stub his toe, for part of the soul is tantamount to the whole of it."

 

Another comment: ...reasoning things out one by one, [after searching long without success: I have found one man in a thousand worthy the name, but I have not found one woman among them all. This alone I have found, that G-d, when he made man, made him straightforward, but man invents endless subtleties of his own] (Qoh. 7:27-29): One joins the other transgression until the account adds up [Mandelbaum].

 

XXIV:XVIII

 

[Return O Israel to the Lord your G-d, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity.] Take with you words (Hosea 14:1) [and return to the Lord and say to him, Take away all iniquity; accept that which is good, and we will render the fruit of our lips. Assyria shall not save us, we will not ride upon horses; and we will say no more, Our G-d to the work of our hands. In you the orphan finds mercy (Hosea 14: 1-3)]

 

...Take with you words: R. Judah and R. Nehemiah: R. Judah said, "Was it not with words that you seduced him at Sinai: They seduced him with their mouth and lied to him with their tongue (Ps. 78:36). [So too now you can seduce me with mere words (Mandelbaum).]" R. Nehemiah said, "Take with you words. Let people who are good with words come, people who do well in proclaiming the words of Scripture, people who do well in expounding it, for example, Levi b. Sisi and his colleagues."

 

As to Levi b. Sisi: troops came to his town. The troops were breaking in, and he took the scroll of the Torah and went up to the roof and said before him, "Lord of the ages, if a single word of this scroll I have treated as null, let the troops get in, but if not, let them go their way." Forthwith [the troops] were sought out but not found. His disciples did the same thing, and his right hand withered, but the troops went their way. A disciple of a disciple of his did the same thing, and, while his right hand did not wither, the troops did not go their way. They concluded: a fool cannot be insulted, nor a corpse feel the scalpel.

 

XXIV:XIX

 

[Return O Israel to the Lord your G-d, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity. Take with you words] and return to the Lord and say to him, Take away all iniquity; [accept that which is good, and we will render the fruit of our lips. Assyria shall not save us, we will not ride upon horses; and we will say no more, Our G-d to the work of our hands. In you the orphan finds mercy (Hosea 14:1-3)]...and return to the Lord and say to him, Take away all iniquity; accept that which is good, and we will render the fruit of our lips: R. Judah and R. Nehemniah: R. Judah said, "[Reading the phrase, Take away all iniquity, so that the word for take away bears the sense of, you bear, you tolerate,] [The prophet says,] 'You can tolerate everything, but our transgressions you cannot bear?'" And R. Nehemiah said, "[Reading the phrase, Take away all iniquity, so that the word for take away bears the sense of, you collect payment for,] [the prophet says,] 'Do not collect the whole of the debt, collect for half and forgive half,'"

 

... accept that which is good: R. Nathan, R. Aha in the name of R. Simeon, "The letters of the word for good add up to the same number as the letters of the word for soul: take good means take life."

 

... and we will render the fruit of our lips: Said R. Abbahu, "[Since the words for fruit and for oxen use the same letters, we interpret as follows:] Who will pay? Those oxen which we would offer before you."

 

... [the fruit of] our lips: The prayer that we offer before you. Said R. Isaac, "[... the fruit of our lips:] This atonement that you render for our souls. What a great goodness do you do for our souls, and what is it our duty to say? It is the word good: It is good to confess to the Lord (Ps. 92:2). Confess to the Lord for he is good (Ps. 118:1),"

 

Midrash of Matityahu (Matthew) 4:12-17

 

12. ¶ It came to pass in those days Yeshua heard that Yochanan the Immerser ben Z’kharyah ben Tzadok HaKohen had been delivered over into prison, so he retired to the Galil. 13. He passed by Natzrat and dwelt in K’far Nakhum along the north shore of the Kinereth, on the outskirts of the land of Zebulun and Naftali, 14. In order that it would be fulfilled that which was spoken by Yeshayahu (Isaiah) the prophet saying (Isaiah 8:23 – 9:1): 15. In the first period Messiah the King will lighten the weight in the land of Zebulun and the land of Naftali. Then in the later period, by way of the Kinereth, he will place more weight on the district of the goyim (Gentiles) – Tans-Jordan.

16. The kinsmen who were walking in darkness will have seen a great light; they that dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them has the light shined. 17.From that time Yeshua began to call out and say: “Return (make teshuvah) for the government of the Heavens is come.”

 

In The Peshat

 

Mordechai (Mark) 1:3-8 The voice of one that cries, Prepare in the wilderness the way of HaShem, make straight in the desert a highway for our G-d” (Isaiah 40:3). 4. Yochanan came, who immersed in the wilderness and proclaimed the immersion of repentance unto remission of sins [during the Yamim Noraim]. 5. And there went out unto him all the country of Judaea, and all they of Jerusalem; and they were immersed of him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins [and doing teshuva]. 6. And John was clothed with [a Tallit made of] camel’s hair, and had a leathern girdle about his loins, and did eat locusts and wild honey. 7. And he proclaimed, saying, “There comes after me he that is mightier than I, the latchet of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose. 8. I immersed you with water [as a symbol of Returning / Repentance]; but he will immerse you with the Ruach HaQodesh[54] (cf. Gen. 1:2).

 

Complete Returning (Repentance)

 

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 30:11-14 For this commandment that I command you today -- it is not hidden from you and it is not distant. It is not in heaven [for you] to say, "Who can ascend to heaven for us and take it for us, so that we can listen to it and perform it?" Nor is it across the sea, [for you] to say, "Who can cross to the other side of the sea for us and take it for us, so that we can listen to it and perform it?" Rather, the matter is very near to you -- in your mouth and in your heart -- to perform it.

 

As Nachmanides[55] understands it, “this commandment” is a reference to the commandment of teshuva, “repentance.”

 

Here is Maimonides description of complete repentance:

 

What constitutes teshuva? That a sinner should abandon his sins and remove them from his thoughts, resolving in his heart, never to commit them again...Similarly, he must regret the past...(He must reach the level where) He who knows the hidden will testify concerning him that he will never return to this sin again...[56]

 

Shabbat Shuba and Shabbat HaGadol

 

When you think of the really significant shabbatot[57] throughout the Jewish calendar, you think of Shabbat Hagadol and Shabbat Shuba.

 

Shabbat Hagadol is similar to Shabbat Shuba, the Sabbath of Repentance before Yom Kippur. Before Yom Kippur we are afraid of what HaShem will decree. Most repent out of fear. But on Shabbat Hagadol, we remember the great miracles HaShem performed in bringing about our exodus from Egypt, and in appreciation our hearts want forgiveness out of love of HaShem. This is significant because what happened in Egypt, in the days of Moshe, will happen in the future in the days of Mashiach:

 

Rosh HaShana 11a Rabbi Yehoshua says: "In Nisan the world was created ... the bondage of our ancestors ceased in Egypt; and in Nisan they will be redeemed in time to come.”

 

Further, our future redemption is just like our redemption in the days of Moshe:

 

Micah 7:15 As in the days of thy coming forth out of the land of Egypt will I show unto them marvellous things.

 

Thus the secrets of Shabbat HaGadol are important to our own redemption. The relationship of Shabbat HaGadol to Shabbat Shuba will only bring us greater illumination and understanding into this very significant Shabbat.

 

In Our Synagogues

 

One of the distinctions of Shabbat HaGadol, among Ashkenazi Jews, is that it was one of two times during the year that, in an earlier age,[58] the Hakham would address the congregation.[59] The other occasion was Shabbat Shuba. The Shabbat before Pesach expresses the motif of drawing down G-dliness, and the Shabbat before Yom Kippur, Shabbat Shuba, relates to man’s ascent. On Shabbat Shuba our Hakhamim expound at length on the laws of teshuva and on Shabbat Hagadol he should expound at length on cleaning for chametz.

 

In our halachic literature, we find the following remarks by the "Mateh Moshe," "It is customary (that the Rav) deliver a talk on Shabbat shuba and Shabbat Hagadol … in order to awaken the people to repentance; and I have found support for this custom in ‘Midrash Mishlei,’ where it is written, ‘The Holy One, Blessed Be He, said: When the “Hakham,” or “Sage,” sits and teaches, I cancel and forgive the trespasses of Israel.”’ Hence it is proper to deliver a talk on this Shabbat, in order that He pardon their sins; and you may find another support for this in the Zohar on Parshat Vayikra."

 

What is the connection between teshuva and chametz? Well, for one, we must do careful searching in both cases. When we search for chametz we should also be searching for our own Yetzer HaRa.[60] When we search for our sins in order to do teshuva it is an equaly daunting task.

 

On Shabbat Hagadol we prepare for redemption. This redemption involves attaching ourselves to HaShem and returning to the promised land, to Gan Eden. It means that we become His people.

 

On Shabbat Shuba we prepare to stand before The Judge by returning to the sinless state we had in Gan Eden.

 

Thus we see that these two Shabbatot[61] have much in common.

 

Just Two Shabbatot

 

Shabbat 118b Rav Yochanan said in the name of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai: “If Israel were to keep two Shabbatot according to the laws thereof, they would be redeemed immediately.”

 

In the Sifrei HaPardes, Rav Yeshiel Epstein writes that the two Shabbatot which must be observed are Shabbat Hagadol and Shabbat Shuba. Each of these Shabbatot have a special power to them:

 

Shabbat Shuba falls between Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur, it is a Shabbat which teaches man how to return to HaShem. Shabbat Shuba is typically the first Shabbat of the year.

 

Shabbat Hagadol contains within it the secret of redemption. The other Shabbat, Shabbat HaGadol, is the first Shabbat observed in Egypt and the second Shabbat in Nisan.

 

If man could master these two Shabbatot, the Mashiach would quickly arrive.

 

The Sefat Emet explains that the term “Shabbat HaGadol” results from the Shabbat taking on new significance. Only with the Jews redemption from Egypt did Shabbat acquire the historical identity which intertwined with the theology. The Sefat Emet explains that Shabbat had now become “greater”: Now the second aspect of Shabbat, articulated in the repetition of the ten commandments, would be realized.[62]

 

The Sefat Emet states[63] that by taking the lamb the Jews observed Shabbat in Egypt. This was their first Shabbat as a people, a moment of passage in the national sense: They had reached the age of majority, became an Ish (a royal man), with responsibilities. This was Shabbat “HaGadol”.[64] The most basic teaching of Shabbat is the acknowledgement that HaShem created the world in six days. By taking the lamb the Jews rejected idolatry and accepted HaShem. This was not merely an action which took place on the tenth of Nisan. This was a watershed of Jewish history. Now the Jews joined HaShem in a Shabbat.

 

In Our Customs

 

Most Jews have a custom to wear their kittels[65] (קיטל) at two times during the year: At the Pesach seder we wear a kittel and on Yom Kippur we wear a kittel.[66] Curiously, Shabbat Shuba and Shabbat HaGadol are the two shabbatot which immediately preceed theses two occasions.

 

* * *

 

Usually, the haftorah always follows the theme of the Maftir. On Yom Tov and Rosh Chodesh, we read a special maftir which is followed by the Haftorah as found in the theme of the Maftir. Yet on two Shabbatot there is no special Maftir, and yet we read a special Haftorah . These are:

 

1) Shabbat Shuba, and

2) Shabbat Hagadol.

 

The question that was raised is why are these two Haftarot different from the others?

 

Here is the answer as I see it. If you analyze the pattern you find that the special maftir only applies to an actual holiday. The pilgrimage festivals and Chanukah are holidays; hence, there is a special maftir when it coincides with Shabbat. Shabbat Shuba, and Shabbat Hagadol are secondary to something else. Shabbat Shuba is secondary to the Days of Awe and Shabbat Hagadol is secondary to Pesach. Hence, since they are still important, they have their own Haftarot. Nevertheless, since they are still secondary, there is no special Maftir.

 

From this question and its answer we see another connection between Shabbat Hagadol and Shabbat Shuba.

 

Finally, Shabbat HaGadol is time for learning how to clean on the outside (to remove chametz), while Shabbat Shuba is time for cleaning the inside (returning to HaShem by cleaning out sin). Yes, I know that the point of cleaning the outside is to demonstrate the work that must be exerted to clean the inside. An yes, I know that internal soul searching must be manifested in good deeds on the outside.

 

The Shabbat Shuba drash was about the methodology and importance of teshuva, spiritual return and re-birth. The sermon on Shabbat HaGadol was about the methodology and importance of readying oneself for Passover, kashering ones house, and preparing for the Seder.

 

What's especially interesting about these two occasion is the structural connection between them. Both Shabbat Hagadol and Shabbat Shuba are marked by the reading of a special Haftorah, a passage taken from the prophets. Both Sabbaths are also named after these special passages. (I don't believe that there are any other Sabbaths in our calendar named after a Haftorah.) This Shabbat is called Shabbat Shuvah because of the opening verse of the Haftorah: " Shuba Yisrael ad Adonai elohekha," "Return O Israel unto the Lord your God" and the Sabbath before Passover is called 'Hagadol' because of the final verse of its Haftorah, "Behold I will send the prophet Elijah before the coming of 'Yom Adonai Hagadol v'hanorah,' the coming of the great and awesome day of HaShem". What's more, unlike the other special Sabbaths throughout the year, we do not read a special Torah portion on these days. Our focus is the prophetic reading and the Rabbi's words.

 

On Shabbat HaGadol we clean our external house of the chametz, our yetzer HaRa. On Shabbat Shuba we clean our internal house of our sins and our yetzer HaRa.

 

On The Calendar

 

Shabbat HaGadol is the Shabbat closest to the Tekufa of Nisan (Vernal Equinox) and

 

Shabbat Shuba is the Shabbat closest to the Tekufa of Tishre (Autumnal Equinox). On these two days the days and nights of equal length.

 

In the Triennial Torah Reading Cycle

 

On the first Shabbat after Simchat Torah, we read the first pasuk of Bereshit, in the annual Torah reading cycle. In the Triennial, or Septennial, cycle, we read the first verse on Shabbat Shuba, the first Shabbat after Yom Teruah, and we also read it on Shabbat Hagadol in Nisan. This bi-modality of the Torah goes well with the Baraita of Rosh HaShanah 10b, where we have Rabbi Eliezer telling us the world was created in Tishri, and Rabbi Joshua telling us that the world was created in Nisan.

 

The annual Torah readings on this Shabbat HaGadol are:

 

Malachi 3:4-24 Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto HaShem, as in the days of old, and as in former years. 5 And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith HaShem of hosts. 6 For I am HaShem, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed. 7 Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith HaShem of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return? 8 Will a man rob G-d? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. 9 Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. 10 Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith HaShem of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. 11 And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith HaShem of hosts. 12 And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith HaShem of hosts.13 Your words have been stout against me, saith HaShem. Yet ye say, What have we spoken so much against thee? 14 Ye have said, It is vain to serve G-d: and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before HaShem of hosts? 15 And now we call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up; yea, they that tempt G-d are even delivered. 16 Then they that feared HaShem spake often one to another: and HaShem hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared HaShem, and that thought upon his name. 17 And they shall be mine, saith HaShem of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. 18 Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth G-d and him that serveth him not. 19 For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith HaShem of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. 20 But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. 21 And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith HaShem of hosts. 22 Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. 23 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of HaShem: 24 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.


Triennial torah readings for Shabbat Shuba and Shabbat Hagadol:

 

Shabbat Hagadol

Shabbat Shuva

Malachi 3:4-24

Hosea 14:2-10 (Sefardim)

Gen 1:1 – 2:3

Micah 7:18-20

Gen. 2:4 – 3:21

Joel 2:15-17 (Ashkenazim)

Gen. 27:1-27

Gen 1:1 – 2:3

Gen. 27:28 – 28:9

Gen. 30:22 – 31:2

Ex 6:2 – 7:7

Gen. 31:3 – 32:3

Ex 7:8 -8:15

Ex 1:1-22

Ex 27:20 – 28:43

Ex. 2:1-25

Lev. 15:1-24

Ex 32:15 – 33:23

Lev. 19:23 – 20:27

Ex 34:1-26

Num. 8:1 – 9:23

Lev. 15:1-24

Num. 10:1 – 11:15

Num. 10:1 – 11:15

Deut. 2:2-30

Num. 14:11-45

Deut. 2:31 – 3:22

Deut. 4:41 – 6:3

 

In the Annual Torah cycle we read parashat Ha’azinu on Shabbat Shuba.

 

* * *

 

This study was written by

Rabbi Dr. Hillel ben David

(Greg Killian).

Comments may be submitted to:

 

Rabbi Dr. Greg Killian

4544 Highline Drive SE

Olympia, WA 98501

 

Internet address: gkilli@aol.com

Web page: http://www.betemunah.org/

 

(360) 918-2905

 

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Send comments to Greg Killian at his email address: gkilli@aol.com

 



[1] Meditation or observation. The word "hisbonenut" derives from the Hebrew word Binah (lit. understanding) and refers to the process of understanding through analytical study.

[2] In Hebrew: Asret Yemai TeShubah

[3] The term means “Wise one” and is the way Sephardim call their Rabbis.

[4] Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, also call Maimonides.

[5] This Ashlamatah should be read by the greatest Torah Scholar available to the congregation.

[6] The seminal work of Rabbi Yehudah Aryeh Leib Alter (1847–1905).

[7] Shemot 16:27

[8] Shemot 17:8

[9] Divre is transliterated Hebrew and translate to “words”.

[10] Kidusha is transliterated Hebrew and translate to “holy things”.

[11] Afternoon prayers.

[12] The time right after the end of Shabbat

[13] Arbit are the evening prayers.

[14] Hoshea (Hosea) 14:1-3

[15] Tehillim (Psalm) 65:5-8

[16] cf. Braude and Kapstein, ad loc.

[17] Tehillim (Psalm) 69:14

[18] Ibid.

[19] Yerimiyahu (Jeremiah) 17:13

[20] Hosea 14:1-3

[21] Yoel (Joel) 2:11-14

[22] Daniel 12:2

[23] Ibid.

[24] Hoshea (Hosea) 14:1-3

[25] Tehillim (Psalm) 4:4-5

[26] Ibid.

[27] Tehillim (Psalm) 51:17-19

[28] Ibid.

[29] Ibid.

[30] Tehillim (Psalm) 51:17-19

[31] Vayikra (Leviticus) 22:22

[32] Tehillim (Psalm) 34:19

[33] Tehillim (Psalm) 147:3

[34] Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 57: 17

[35] Tehillim (Psalm) 51:19

[36] Hoshea (Hosea) 14:1-3

[37] Iyov(Job) 36:22

[38] Hoshea (Hosea) 14:1-3

[39] Tehillim (Psalm) 25:78

[40] Mishle (Proverbs) 13:21

[41] Yechezekel (Ezekiel) 18:4

[42] Tehillim (Psalm) 25:78

[43] Ibid.

[44] Ibid.

[45] Hoshea (Hosea) 14:1-3

[46] Mishle (Proverbs) 28:13

[47] Ibid.

[48] Hoshea (Hosea) 14:1-3

[49] Mishle (Proverbs) 12:14

[50] Bereshit (Genesis) 37:29-34

[51] Bereshit (Genesis) 35:22

[52] Hoshea (Hosea) 1:1

[53] Divre Hayamim (I Chronicles) 5:6

[54] The Holy Spirit

[55] Rabbi Moses ben Nachman

[56] Laws of Teshuva, 2,2

[57] Plural of Shabbat (Sabbaths)

[58] This was the custom, from Talmudic times, in eastern Europe through the nineteenth century. Meir Berlin, Me Volozin Ad Yerushalaim (Tel Aviv, 1939), p.227, asserts that R. Epstein fulfills this law and relates that although very involved instudy and community issues, he was careful to deliver his sermons every Shabbat Hagadl and Shabbat Shuba.. (See also Saperstein, Jewish Preaching, p.13, where the categories of sermons are discussed.)

[59] The Arukh HaShuchan, by Rabbi Epstein, tells us about this custom in Orach Chaim 429:6.

[60] Our evil inclination

[61] Plural of Shabbat (Sabbaths)

[62] Sfat Emet Shabbat Hagadol 5637

[63] Sfat Emet Shabbat Hagadol 5646

[64] Sfat Emet Shabbat Hagadol 5674

[65] A long white robe, as pictured.

[66] The kittel is also worn as shrouds for a Niftar (one who died).