Beshalach: Chapter 1

"And Elisha passed to Shunem"


Rabbi Shimon opens by talking about Habakkuk, but then discusses the entire story recounted in II Melachim about Elisha and the Shunamite woman who had fed him bread when he passed by, and prepared for him a "small upper chamber...with walls...a bed and table and chair and a lamp." We are told that on the day Elisha came to the Shunamite and promised her that she would bear a son it was Rosh Hashanah, when the barren women of the world were remembered. We are told that one must not be alone on the Day of Judgment because one might be noticed on his own and more subject to judgment, and the Mercies of God are always present over the whole people together.

Rabbi Shimon says that when Elisha asked the woman if she would be spoken for to the king, he was offering to beseech the Supernal King on her behalf, but she did not want to separate from her people. We hear that the reason the child born to her later died was because he was from the Female side, since he was given to her and not her husband. Elisha was not told by the Holy One, blessed be He, that the boy would die, so that he would not try to save him through prayer. His servant Gehazi was not worthy of the miracle being performed through him, so the Shunamite woman insisted that Elisha come with her. When Elisha lay upon the boy to bring him back to life he reconnected him to a different high place, the place where life is found.

Rabbi Shimon returns now to Habakkuk, with whom this passage began, and says that Habakkuk means 'two embraces:' one from his mother and one from Elisha, one from the Female area and one from the Male. He tells us that there were various types of praises available to the prophets to cause the Spirit of Prophecy to dwell upon them, and that all prophets need pleasantness in order to draw that Spirit upon themselves. Only for Moses was this unnecessary. Rabbi Shimon ends by saying that the children of Yisrael only tasted death when they departed from Egypt, but that God healed them.