Intermountain Jewish News

Aug 20th
Home Columns View from Denver It takes two wings to fly

It takes two wings to fly

E-mail Print PDF

HOLINESS comes in two’s. I first became aware of this in reference to Shabbos. But I became doubly aware (if that’s not a redundancy) last week as our son and daughter-in-law, Rabbi Mattis and Batya Goldberg, had twin daughters in Israel!

Holiness in two’s, indeed. Rachel and Hannah, each around six pounds (about half the size of the other Israeli Goldberg babies), are a double blessing, eliciting a quadruple dose of gratitude (and that’s not a redundancy).

The two’s of Shabbos:

Two challot, not one, are blessed (“hamotzi”), because a double portion of manna fell every Friday (Exodus 16:5).

Two names, not one, attach to the Sabbath’s Psalm 92: “hymn” (mizmor) and “song” (shir).

Twice, not once, the Sabbath is commanded: “Remember the Sabbath” (via its positive commandments; Exodus 20:8) and “Safeguard the Sabbath” (via its negative commandments; Deut. 5:12).

Pleasure on Shabbos is twofold: “delight” (oneg) and “honor” (kavod) (Isaiah 58:13).

Honoring Shabbos is a twofold restraint: from seeking daily needs, and from talking about them (Isaiah 58:13).

Punishment for violating the Shabbos is formulated in a double expression (Exodus 31:14).

Two lambs, not one and not more than two, comprise the Shabbos offering in the Temple (Numbers 28:9).

THIS week’s Torah portion marks the beginning of the Jewish people’s regular rendezvous with G-d. The book of Exodus celebrates one-time, overwhelming events that changed Jews and Judaism forever: the miraculous plague-confrontations with Pharaoh, the liberation from Egypt, and the revelation of the Divine will at Mt. Sinai. Exodus ends with the completion of the Tabernacle, which regularized the Jewish people’s access to the presence of G-d. Leviticus sets down the rituals within the Tabernacle that bring G-d’s intimate relationship with the Jewish people to fruition.

This relationship, and a few of the rituals — the holiness of the Tabernacle — come in two’s.

Most of us are familiar with a rather famous verse from Isaiah, “Holy, holy, holy is the L-rd of Hosts; the whole world is full of His glory” (Isaiah 6:3). Did you ever wonder who said these words? Earlier, Isaiah reads:

“Seraphim [angels] were standing above, at His service. Each one had six wings — with two it would cover its face, with two it would cover its legs, and with two it would fly — and one called to another, and said, ‘Holy, holy, holy . . . ’” (Isaiah 6:2-3).

Two’s. Spiritual beings, of course, do not have wings, but the metaphor comes in two’s. With two wings an angel would cover its face so as not to gaze upon the Divine presence (Rashi). With two wings an angel would cover its legs for the sake of modesty before G-d. With two wings an angel would “fly,” fulfilling G-d’s missions (ibn Ezra) or singing praises to G-d (Talmud Hagigah 13b).*

Holiness comes in two’s: intimate service of G-d with the eyes, the body, the voice (or one’s purpose), each aided by two “wings.”

Also in two’s is one of the rituals in the sacrificial offerings, the korbanot, whose etymology denotes “draw near, become intimate.” If a High Priest errs in a ruling in Jewish law, he must bring a special sin-offering. The details of the service entail the fats, the diaphragm, the innards, the hide, the head, the feet and — two kidneys (Lev. 4:9).

Holiness in two’s, everywhere you look, from antiquity onward.

Oh, and did you notice, “holy, holy, holy?” What’s next, triplets?

Copyright © 2014 by the Intermountain Jewish News


IJN e-Edition

This is only a taste! Get full access to the IJN via our e-Edition, only $14.04 for IJN Print subscribers.

E-Edition subscribers get access to a complete digital replica of the IJN, which includes all special sections.

Get the IJN's free newsletter!

Shabbat Times

JTA News

In Muslim Kosovo, Jewish remnant stakes claim to nation’s past and future

Ron Kampeas The European Union’s newest country and its tiny Jewish community cooperate in their quests for recognition. ... [Link]

Man wrongly convicted of N.Y. rabbi’s murder receives $10 million settlement

Ben Sales Jabbar Collins, who was wrongly convicted of the 1994 murder of a New York City rabbi and spent 16 years in prison, received a $10 million settlement from the city. ... [Link]

Judge blocks protest against Israeli Film Festival in Australia

Ben Sales A pro-Palestinian protest at the opening night of the Israeli Film Festival in Sydney will not go ahead, a judge ruled. ... [Link]

Israel Police: Put lawmaker Hanin Zoabi on trial for incitement

Ben Sales The Israel Police recommended that Hanin Zoabi be put on trial after the Arab-Israeli Knesset member allegedly insulted and threatened officers during an interrogation. ... [Link]

Israel attempts hit on Hamas commander as clashes resume

Ben Sales Israel attempted to assassinate a Hamas leader as clashes between Hamas and Israel resumed following Hamas rocket fire on Israel. ... [Link]

Philadelphia synagogue’s historian found murdered in home

Julie Wiener A Philadelphia man who served as his synagogue’s informal historian was found beaten to death in his home. ... [Link]

State Dept. designates Gaza-based council a terrorist group

Marcy Oster The U.S. State Department designated a Gaza-based jihadist umbrella group as a terrorist organization. ... [Link]

Barrage of rockets strikes Israel as bomb shelters ordered open

Marcy Oster Hamas claimed responsibility for a barrage of rockets fired on southern and central Israel, including Tel Aviv. ... [Link]

Intermountain Jewish News • 1177 Grant Street • Denver, CO 80203 • 303 861 2234 • FAX 303 832 6942 • •