May 07, 2006

Light a candle

Tonight is the yahrtzeit of Eli Hakohen Gadol and his sons Chofni and Pinchas

I Samuel: And there was one man... Elkanah... And he had two wives; the name of the one was Hannah and the name of the second was Peninnah; and Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children. And that man was wont to go up from his city from appointed time to appointed time, to prostrate himself and to slaughter (peace offerings) to the Lord of Hosts in Shiloh, and there the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinhas, were serving the Lord. And when it was the day, and Elkanah slaughtered (peace offerings), and he would give to Peninnah his wife and to all her sons and daughters portions. And to Hannah he would give one choice portion, for he loved Hannah, and the Lord had shut up her womb. And her rival would frequently anger her, in order to make her complain, for the Lord had shut up her womb. And so he would do year by year, as often as she went up to the house of the Lord, so she would anger her, and she wept and would not eat. And Elkanah her husband said to her, "Hannah, why do you weep? And why do you not eat? And why is your heart sad? Am I not better to you than ten sons?" And Hannah arose after eating and after drinking, and Eli the priest was sitting on the chair beside the doorpost of the Temple of the Lord. And she was bitter in spirit, and she prayed to the Lord, and wept. And she vowed a vow, and said: to Lord of Hosts, if You will look upon the affliction of Your bondswoman, and You will remember me, and You will not forget Your bondswoman and You will give Your bondswoman a man-child, and I shall give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall come upon his head. And it was, as she prayed long before the Lord, that Eli watched her mouth. But Hannah, she was speaking in her heart, only her lips were moving, and her voice was not heard, and Eli thought her to be a drunken woman. And Eli said to her: Until when will you be drunk? Throw off your wine from upon yourself. And Hannah answered and said: No, my lord, I am a woman of sorrowful spirit, and neither new wine nor old wine have I drunk, and I poured out my soul before the Lord. Deliver not your bondswoman before the unscrupulous woman, for out of the abundance of my complaint and my vexation have I spoken until now. And Eli answered and said: Go in peace, and the God of Israel will grant your request which you have asked of Him.

This is where we get our tradition of saying the Amidah (Shemoneh Esrei) silently. Also, we leanr that Eli consulted the Urim v'Tumim about Hannah and the letters shin, chof, reish, hey lit up. He interpreted them as "ShiKuRaH" drunk woman when in reality it was to mean "K'SaRah" [the woman is] like Sarah.

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