Dreaming of Moshiach

Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Greatness of Devorah HaNevia

On Shabbat, I was reading the Little Midrash Says, the Book of Judges about Devorah HaNevia, a'h. Truth is, I never knew much about her before all this. Some interesting notes that I found and wanted to share:

She was the 4th Judge and before her reign, the Jews were not learning Torah and some were even serving idols. Therefore, HaShem allowed some of the 7 nations to fight the Jews and king Yavin, ruler over Eretz Canaan, attacked the Jews constantly.

King Yavin's general, Sisra, was very wicked and him and his army robbed and killed the Jews and Am Israel lived in constant fear and dread. Sisra would poke fun at Bnei Yisrael claiming he was greater than God. Because Sisra was haughty, HaShem decreed that his downfall would come about through women and this would cause him shame. The Jews suffered 20 years from him and his army but did not dare fight back because he had 900 iron chariots and Bnei Israel had none. They were convinced they would never win. From the desperation, Am Israel cried to HaShem more deeply and desperately than ever, during the time of the Judges.

HaShem chose Devorah HaNevia from Shevet Naftali. She was a righteous woman and very learned in Torah. Devorah HaNevia used to make wicks for the Menorah in the Mishkan in Shilo and would always thicken the wicks so the Menorah give more light. HaShem said, "Devora, you want My light to shine brightly. I will therefore make your light shine among the Jewish people!".

The Sanhedrin appointed Devora HaNevia as the Judge over Bnei Israel and she did a marvelous job in leading Am Israel. She taught and judged. She was also rich, having date trees in Yericho, fruit gardens in Rama, olive groves and other properties in different locations. She had enough to live on and never accepted gifts or money from Am Israel. She used to sit all day under a palm tree, known as "Devorah's palm tree". Devorah HaNevia always made sure to be in an open place that everyone could see that she was modest and not alone with a man in a closed house. She judged and advised Am Israel in all weathers, outside in the cold, rain, heat, etc.

Devora HaNevia considered herself the mother of Am Israel and Am Israel were her children, whom she had to bring up to study Torah and keep the Mitzvot. She also taught them to stay away from idols worship. Devorah HaNevia herself become greater than all the other Shoftim (Judges). Some of them had felt HaShem's spirit rest on them, but Devorah, reached an even higher level. She became a nevia (prophetess) to whom HaShem spoke.

HaShem told Devora HaNevia that it was time to overcome the army and Sisra. HaShem told her to prepare 10,000 men from two tribes, Naftali and Zevulun and gather them on Har Tavor. Devorah herself did not intend to go to war or to lead the Jews in battle. Being in the army is not a woman's job. But because her husband Barak ben Avinoam, zs'l, was afraid, she agreed to come. She prophesized that winning the war will be credited to 2 women.

When the 2 tribes heard the command, they prepared for war. No one refused to be drafted into the war against Sisra, even though they were risking their lives. Even the Sofrim (scribes) who were not trained for military service, joined without hesitation. Other tribes heard and also joined, including Talmidei Chachamim from Shevet Yissachar. All Am Israel suffered greatly from Sisra and because Sisra was part of the 7 nations in Eretz Canaan, it was a Mitzvah to destroy him and his army.

Some tribes stayed away from the battle. No men from Shevet Reuven and no help of shevet Menashe. Also, no one from shevet Dan took part. This was wrong and in Devorah HaNevia's song, she blamed these shevatim for being more concerned about themselves than the Jewish nation.

Sisra's army was stationed at the valley, close to Nachal Kishon and Barak's army stood on top of Har Tavor. Without HaShem's help, Am Israel would have no chance against Sisra's army but HaShem confused Sisra's army. They imagined hearing clangs of chariots and horses approaching. Truth is Barak's army had no chariots. Sisra's army panicked and fled and Barak's army had no need to fight. They gave chase and killed the enemy soldiers. HaShem performed more miracles. Night was beginning to fall and stars appeared in the sky. HaShem moved the stars directly over Sisra's army and it shone on their iron coat of arms. They became unbearable hot and jumped into Nachal Kishon to cool off. Another miracle occurred. Kishon was a very small stream of water but in one moment, it swelled and became a raging river. The soldiers drowned, together with their horses and chariots.

Sisra realized the battle was lost and went into hiding - however, a person's feet lead to the place HaShem wants!!!

He ran into a cluster of tents belonging to Chaiver Hakaini, descendants of Yitro who were Jewish and some were Talmidei Chachamim. Chaiver separated from the rest of the Kainim. Sisra appeared in Yael's tent and Yael recognized him right away. She told Sisra not to be afraid and this would be the last place they would look for him. Feeling tired, he was easily convinced and relaxed. He ordered her to bring him water and she brought him milk, it causes sleepiness. He ordered her to stand guard by the tent while he sleeps. A short while later, she saw he fell deep into sleep. Yael took a hammer and a big pin, the type which her tent was fastened to the ground. Carefully, she approached Sisra. She stood above him and drove the pin with the help of the hammer on Sisra's forehead. She banged the pin again and again deep into Sisra's forehead.

HaShem made a miracle and Sisra never woke up, he died in his sleep. With her bravery and courage, Yael, a'h, single-handeldly freed Am Israel from a cruel and dangerous man.

When Barak, zs'l, passed Yael's tent, searching for Sisra, she called him and showed him a 'surprise'. Barak realized that his wife's prophecy has come true. He would not be credited for winning the miracleous war; Devorah HaNevia began and Yael, finished.

Barak continued fighting against Yavin, the king of Canaan and easily defeated him and his army. Bnei Israel were completely victorious and once again, Eretz Israel was free and no longer under the rule of the Canaanim.

Which night of the Jewish year did this great miracle happen? The night of Pesach!

As long as Devorah HaNevia lived, for the next 40 years, the land was quiet and no enemy dared attack. Bnei Yisrael did complete Teshuva and followed in the path of Torah and Mitzvot....

The word Armageddon is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew har megiddon (the mountain district of Megiddo). The name of this battle is symbolic in memory of a terrible and actual battle which took place in Megiddo (an ancient city in Canaan aka Israel), not far from which the Canaanites under the leadership of Sisera were entirely destroyed. This dreadful total destruction remained for a long time a terrible memory for the nations that witnessed it.

Renovations of Kever Devorah Hanevia, a'h




והיה השם למלך על כל הארץ, ביום ההוא יהיה השם אחד - ושמו אחד ישתבח שמו לעד לנצח נצחים בכל העולמות Blessed is His name for eternity in all worlds אין עוד מלבדו