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Shir ha-Shirim XVIII Part Seven: Sefirah 43

“For your loved ones are better than wine.” “Your loved ones,” refers to the patriarchs. “Than wine,” indicates the princes. Another explanation: “for your loved ones,” indicates the offerings; “Than Wine,” indicates the libations.


Rabbi Chanina said: Had Moshe known how beloved were the offerings, at the time when Israel committed their great sin, he would have offered all the offerings specified in the Torah. Instead, however, he had recourse to the merit of the patriarchs, as it says, “Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Your servants (Exodus 32:13).”

Another explanation: “For better are your loved ones,” this refers to Israel; “Than wine,” this refers to the other nations. Yud is ten, yud, ten, and nun, fifty,  Alluding to the 70 nations to show that Israel are more beloved before God that all the nations. (Shir Hashirim Rabbah

Rabbi Chanina points out that, “Your loved ones,” the Patriarchs, are more beloved to God than all the offerings: Moshe figured this out when, not knowing how beloved the Offerings are to God, he turned to the merit of the Patriarchs to argue for Israel. Moshe didn’t need Offerings; he needed to remember that what a human being can accomplish in a life lived striving for attachment to God is more beloved that all the Offerings and Libations. It was this understanding that empowered Moshe’s prayers for Israel. The person who taught us Torah understood that it is the key for each of us to live a life that is more beloved to God than all the Offerings and Libations.

God responded to Moshe’s prayer based on this insight: The people would now be able to return to Him, to repair the damage of the Golden Calf, earn the Second Tablets and the privilege of constructing the Mishkan.

Rabbi Chanina does not focus on the merit of the Patriarchs, but on their example of the power and meaning of each single life.

This is the only way that we can approach Torah study for it to be more beloved to God than all the Offerings and Libations.

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