based on the writings of the chabad rebbes
From a discourse of Rabbi Shneur Zalman, "the
week’s haftorah tells the story of a
woman whose husband, a student of the prophet Elisha, had passed away
leaving her without money. She went to Elisha and cried: “Your servant,
my husband died, and the creditor has come to take my two children for
himself as slaves.” Elisha asked her what she had left in her house and
she replied that she had nothing more than a jar of oil. Elisha then told
her to gather many empty vessels and then pour from the jar into them.
Miraculously the one jar was able to fill all the vessels. Elisha told
her to sell the oil “and pay the creditor, and you and yours sons will
live on the remainder.” The following is the kabbalistic interpretation
of the story.
And one woman, of the wives of the prophets’ “children,”>
cried to Elisha: your servant, my husband, died…and the creditor has come
to take my two children for himself as slaves….
And one woman - Woman
It is called one woman, since the soul is one with G-d.
of the wives of the children
of the prophets – The Hebrew word for prophet, nahvee, is related
to the expression neev, which means “speech” (as in neev
s’fasayim, “speech of the lips”),
referring to the speech of G-d, which the prophets perceive and grasp.
So prophets, in this context, refers to the soul, which also perceives
and grasps Divinity.
Eili Sha.) The soul cries out to G-d that
– My husband,
ishi, can be read as aish and the letter yud, or
“the fire of yud,” referring to the burning love of the soul that
inspires its desire to be subsumed in the yud, supernal Chochmah
The soul cries to G-d that this love has died.
nosheh, is related to the word for forget. Joseph called
his eldest son Menasheh, because “G-d has made me forget…[my father’s
“The creditor” thus refers to the animal soul, which has caused the soul
to forget its root, its source in Divinity.
to love and awe of G-d. The emotions are called offspring, since they
are produced by the intellect. Love and awe are the primary emotions,
the others being its offshoots.
“the creditor” has come, cries the soul to G-d, to take my “two children”
as slaves, to employ them toward destructive loves and debilitating fears.
– What part of you has not been commandeered by the animal soul?
What is left “inside your house,” in your deepest depths?
– The soul responds that it still retains
its essence, its untouchable core.
– the soul and its attributes of love and awe will eventually
the last gate
haftorah and the parsha.
writes that the word choleh, meaning a sick person, has the numeric
equivalent of 49. This means that before Avraham was visited by G-d, he
was on the level of the 49th gate of understanding.
This is the level to which a human being can reach through his own efforts.
The fiftieth level cannot be attained by man through his own deeds. Rather,
after he has done all that is in his power, he is granted the revelation
of the fiftieth gate by G-d as a gift.
during the 49 days of the Omer, between Passover and Shavuos, we count
each day, ascending the 49 gates of understanding. The fiftieth day is
Shavous, but we do not count it. It is beyond us; thus we receive it from
G-d as a gift.
49, and granted him the power of the fiftieth gate. He had now entered
the realm of the Creator.
[Adapted and summarized by RabbiYosef Marcus.]