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Around and Around (Asarah B’Tevet)

Preview: Shofar blasts. Cities that are encircled, encamped against, besieged, and breached. A foreign family, known as the Rachavites/Rechavites, who live both within and yet beyond the city, earn praise for their virtue. Rescues by rope. Night-time escapes. Pursuit by the king’s men. The valley of Aravah. The environs of Yericho. Temple spoils. Entry into a land. Exile from a land.

What Biblical story contains all of these elements? Two stories, actually. Nor are these the only connections between them…

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West Palm Beach (Sukkot/Hoshanah Rabbah)

Preview: Are our Sukkot rituals intended to evoke the nation’s experience in Yericho? The Yerushalmi implies as much concerning the hoshanot, and the relationship would make thematic sense more broadly: Sukkot recalls the protections Hashem provided in the wilderness; the entry into Yericho represents the moment in history when the need for such protections appeared to fade. Moreover, there are many textual connections between the two. These include marching in circles for seven days; palm trees; the motif of “salvation” (Heb. yeshua); the Clouds of Glory; etc. Plus, it seems like the four species are all textually associated with the geography of Yericho. What other connections can we find – and what, ultimately, is the meaning of these connections?

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