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"The Best of Parashat HaShavuah" Articles taken from list subscriptions on the internet, edited, reformatted and printed for members of Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu

בס"ד

B PARASHAT HASHAVUA B



PARASHA : Vayikra



Date :8 Adar II 5768, 15/3/2008

“The Best of Parashat HaShavuah” Articles taken from list subscriptions on the internet, edited, reformatted and printed for members of Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu (Editor: Arieh Yarden)

Dedicated to the loving memory of Avi Mori

Moshe Reuven ben Yaakov z”l



Please respect the Holiness of these pages

These pages are also sent out weekly via the internet in MS Word format. Anyone who is interested in receiving them, can subscribe via the Parasha web site: http://parasha.sde.org.il/eparasha - Arieh.

HhHhHhHhHhHhHhHhHhHhH

1 - SHABBAT B’SHABBATO (Tzomet)



Extract from SHABBAT-B'SHABBATO, published by the Zomet Institute of Alon Shevut, Israel; http://www.moreshet.co.il/zomet/index-e.html

STARTING POINT: Hearing the Sound of a Curse



- by Rabbi Amnon Bazak, Yeshivat Har Etzion

The first case that the Torah notes with respect to the "Increasing and Decreasing" sacrifice (which changes depending on the wealth of the sinner) is the following: "And if a soul sins and hears the sound of a curse, if the person is a witness or knows something but he does not testify about it, he will bear his sin" [Vayikra 5:1). What is the meaning of the phrase, to "hear the sound of a curse"? The commentators, based on the approach of the sages, explain that this is a case where a man is asked by his friend to testify for him, but that the potential witness takes a false oath denying that he knows anything about the case. He is then obligated to bring a sacrifice, for "an oath about testimony." However, in simple terms the description to "hear the sound of a curse" does not seem to fit this case at all, for two reasons. First, why should this be described in terms of "hearing," ignoring the fact that another person demands that the witness take an oath? In addition, why is this discussed in terms of "a curse" and not an oath, as is mentioned explicitly several verses later (5:4)?

In view of the above questions, it seems that this phrase should be understood somewhat differently. Evidently the key to understanding the passage can be seen in the affair of the idol made by Micha, which begins with the words of Micha to his mother: "With respect to the one thousand and one hundred pieces of silver which were taken from you, about which you cursed and told me, here is the silver - I am the one who took it" [Shoftim 17:2]. Thus we see that when a large sum of silver was stolen from Micha's mother she responded by putting a curse on the thief and on anybody who knew who had stolen the silver (compare to: "And the entire curse which is written in this book will fall on him" [Devarim 29:19]). Micha's mother spoke to him, even though she did not know that he was the thief (or at the very most suspected him of the theft). The fact that somebody reacts to events with a curse causes all those who hear it to relate to his or her cry. And this explains the basis for the sacrifice in this week's portion, obligating all those who hear such a curse to relate to it, even if it was not specifically addressed to them. This also explains the use of the word "kol" – a sound – which is related to a rumor ("And the sound was passed through the camp" [Shemot 36:6]). Even one who does not directly hear the curse but has been told about it is obligated to respond.

This will also help us to understand Shlomo's prayer at the dedication of the Temple. "If one man sins against his colleague and takes an oath to curse him, let the oath come to this house before Your altar in this Temple. You shall hear in the heaven and act, and You shall judge your servants, to convict the evil one and set his way back on his head, and to exonerate the righteous one, to give him what he deserves in his righteousness." [Melachim I 8:31-32]. Here again a man who has been harmed has responded with a curse, but nobody listened. Shlomo therefore requests that the curse should be brought before G-d in the Temple, so that the Almighty will convict the evil person and provide justice for the righteous one.

Perhaps the difference between the simple interpretation and the more complex one given by the sages stems from their desire to avoid having many people start to use a curse on their own initiative. They have therefore established that only a formal oath taken in a court will obligate all those who hear it.

POINT OF VIEW: Using Hatred to Win!



- by Rabbi Yisrael Rozen, Dean of the Zomet Institute

(Written in memory of "eight national princes" [Micha 5:4] brutally murdered within the walls of the Torah of Eretz Yisrael, in Yeshivat Merkaz Harav.)

"It is a positive mitzva to constantly remember the evil deeds and enmity (of Amalek), in order to awaken hatred against him, as is written, 'Remember what Amalek did to you' [Devarim 25:17]... One is not allowed to forget his enmity and his hatred." [Rambam, Hilchot Melachim 5:5].

Two expressions that are expressly not humanitarian are included in the mitzva related to Amalek, as is noted in the above quote from the Rambam: to "constantly remember" and to "awaken the hatred against him." Thus, these harsh and painful commands include two traits that are difficult to bear: repetition ("constantly") and fanning the flames of hatred ("awaken"). We will discuss both aspects in turn, with a heavy heart.

When Will This End?

The struggle against Amalek is related to messianic issues which will continue to accompany us until our redemption is complete. This does not refer to Amalek in an ethnic sense, but rather to anybody whose heart burns with constant hatred of Yisrael, whether on a level that is national (such as Zionism) or religious. Careful readers have noted that the Rambam did not write in this case that "their memories are long gone," as he did with respect to the Seven Nations of Canaan, which appears right before this law. This implies that "his memory is not gone," and that Amalek as a concept and as an object of our struggles and our hatred has continued to exist in every generation.

The never-ending status of the struggle with Amalek and our inability to "finish the matter once and for all" can be directly seen in the verse, "G-d has a war with Amalek, from generation to generation" [Shemot 17:16]. This is noted in more detail by the sages: "'And Yehoshua weakened Amalek' [Shemot 17:13] – It is not written that he rooted them out, rather that he made them weaker, leaving them with some ability... We find that Yehoshua wanted to eradicate the memory of Amalek. The Almighty said to him, on your life, wait for now. King Shaul will rise up from Binyamin in the future..." In another Midrash, "Rabbi Elazar Hamuda'i says, in the generation of Moshe and from the generation of Shmuel (at the time of Shaul), Rabbi Eliezer says, in the generation of Mashiach" [Tanchuma, end of the portion of Ki Teitzei].

With His own hand, the Almighty affirmed the eternity of the hatred of Amalek and the command to fight him. "'For it is with a hand on G-d's throne' – the hand of the Almighty was raised in order to take an oath on His throne that there will be war and enmity against Amalek forever" [Rashi, Shemot 17:16]. We cannot escape from this Divine command, even if we try to hide behind the concept of a "family of nations," and even if it seems difficult for us and we have become weak. Even though in the war with Amalek "Moshe's hands became heavy" [Shemot 17:12], the war must continue "until the sun sets" [ibid]: That is, until the end of day, until the end of time, until sun of redemption rises.

"Moshe's hands became heavy" but not because of physical weakness. Hands that can carry two stone Tablets do not become weak from excessive effort or from strained muscles. Moshe raised hands of faith, "And his hands showed faith" [ibid], in order to oppose those whose lack of faith led to weakened hearts and hands. The lack of faith is expressed in such matters as "the justification of war" and in a criticism of the spiritual and humanitarian difficulty to "awaken hatred" against the enemy, as quoted above from the Rambam. (This does not mean that we should provoke the enemy into acts of hatred but rather refers to an internal loathing for the worldwide and long lasting organization of Amalek.)

Meet Hatred with Hatred



All of the above leads us to a clearer understanding of the essence of the struggle with Amalek. The word enmity ("eivah") appears twice in the above quote from the Rambam, and it also appears in the words of Rashi, "war and enmity against Amalek" forever. Enmity is harsher and deeper than hatred, and it implies something that goes against humanitarian feelings. The words of Rabeinu Bechayei on the Torah are quite remarkable: "'Let your G-d place all of these curses on your enemies and on those who hate you' [Devarim 30:7] – Your enemies are Yishmael, those who hate you are Eisav... An enemy is worse than one who hates, since the enemy carries an eternal loathing in his heart... The sons of Yishmael are worse for Yisrael than the sons of Eisav, and that is why they are called 'enemies.'" (This quote has been deleted from many editions of the commentary because of the fear of the censors.)

G-d gives a strong and clear command to Shaul in the war on Amalek: "Here is what G-d says... Go and strike Amalek... Do not have any mercy on him" [Shmuel I 15:2-3]. To curtail the natural trait of mercy is very difficult, and the righteous King Shaul indeed failed the test: "And Shaul and the nation took pity on Agag and on the best sheep" [15:9]. Here is what Shaul said: "If man has sinned, what sins have the animals done? If older people sinned, what sins have been performed by the small ones? And a heavenly voice came out and said, 'Do not be overly righteous!' [Kohellet 7:16]." [Yoma 22b].

Shmuel tries to teach Shaul something about the laws of fighting with Amalek before fulfilling the Divine decree to remove him from his office, "You have rejected the word of G-d, and He has rejected you as king" [Shmuel I 15:26]. "'And Shmuel beheaded Agag before G-d in Gilgal' [15:33] – He gave him a bitter death" [Yalkut Shimoni 2:123]. (The description of the execution is not easy to put in writing.)

The heavenly voice that told Shaul, "Do not be overly righteous," reminded him of how he killed the people of Nov, the city of the priests: "Do not be overly evil" [Kohellet 7:17]. This teaches us, "Anybody who shows pity for the cruel will in the end be cruel to those who deserve to be pitied" [Yalkut Shimoni 2:121].

* * * * * *

One who slaughters students while they are studying Torah; one who sprays Kassam rockets on man, woman, child, the elderly and the suckling child; one who raises children to be murderers and sends his sons to explode wherever there are Jews; one who calls for celebrating the destruction of Israel and dances at the sight of blood – These are the Amalek of our generation. We will triumph with enmity! We must learn to curtail our humanitarian feelings when the need arises.

RESPONSA FOR OUR TIMES: The Essence of Purim



- by Rabbi Re'eim Hacohen, Rosh Yeshiva and Chief Rabbi, Otniel

Question

: This year the fourteenth of Adar is on Friday, such that in walled cities a "triple Purim" will be celebrated. Why is Shabbat considered part of Purim even though none of the special commandments of the holiday are performed on Shabbat?

Answer

:

Reading the Megillah and Giving Gifts to the Poor

We should note that with the accepted modern rules for setting the calendar Purim can occur on Shabbat only in walled cities, but previously, when the new month was set according to direct testimony, the regular Purim holiday could also occur on Shabbat. The Megillah in this case is read not on Shabbat but on Friday. In the Talmud, Rabba and Rav Yosef disagree about the reason for this law (Megillah 4b). According to Rabba the reason is a fear that somebody might carry a Megillah in a public area on Shabbat. According to Rav Yosef, the reason is that "the poor people are eager to hear the Megillah, and they expect to receive charity on the day that it is read." Rashi explains that since charity cannot be distributed to the poor people on Shabbat, the Megillah reading is moved forward to Friday. The Shulchan Aruch in fact states that gifts for the poor are collected and distributed on the same day that the Megillah is read (688:6).

Festive Meal and "Mishloach Manot"

Another mitzva on Purim is to have a festive meal. According to the Talmud Yerushalmi, the meal should not be held on Shabbat because it is written that "they should be made into days of feasts and happiness" [Esther 9:22]. That is, the festivities should be on a day that was declared as a day of happiness by the sages (see Yerushalmi, Megillah 1:4). The RIF quotes these words of the Talmud Yerushalmi. While it is written, "one should not let the date pass by" [Esther 9:27], meaning that the celebration of Purim should not be delayed beyond the proper date, the RAN explains that this only applies to reading the Megillah. The Shulchan Aruch rules according to the Talmud Yerushalmi (688:6). While the Maharal Chabiv did make a Purim meal on Shabbat (232) and claimed that the Babylonian Talmud disagrees with the Yerushalmi, the Radbaz (1:147) and other recent commentators accepted the ruling of the Shulchan Aruch.

With respect to "mishloach manot" – sending food to a friend – the Mishna Berura rules that this should be done on Sunday, the same day as the meal, since it is logical to assume that the mitzva is related to the meal.

The Essence of the Day of Purim



The above discussion indeed implies that all of the special mitzvot of Purim are not observed on Shabbat. However, a deeper insight will show that the essence of the holiday and the specific commandments are not the same thing. In the case of a "triple day" of Purim, the essence of the holiday remains Shabbat, while Friday and Sunday are not really Purim but rather subsidiary days on which the mitzvot of the holiday are performed.

Rabbi Yehoshua Ben Levi said, "When Purim is on Shabbat, the current issues of the day should be studied" [Megillah 4a]. The TUR explains that this means that "the issue of the day" should be discussed. The Shulchan Aruch expanded this to include the Purim Torah reading on Shabbat (so that two Torah scrolls must be taken out of the ark) and added that the "Al Hanissim" prayer should also be recited.

In my humble opinion, the very fact that Purim is observed without its special mitzvot reveals to us the "power of the day" and its spiritual essence. In Tikunei Hazohar (21), it is written, "Purim is named after Yom Ha-Kippurim, which will be a day of joy in the future." Just as the day of Yom Kippur itself is significant, independent of the mitzvot of the day, so the day of Purim is significant in itself. A similar thought appears in the Midrash: "All of the holidays will be cancelled in the future, but the days of Purim will never be cancelled... Rabbi Elazar said, Yom Kippur too will never be cancelled." [Midrash Mishlei 9]. The Rashba explains that this is a promise: Just as on Yom Kippur we have been promised that "the day provides atonement even if it is not observed," so we can be sure that the days of Purim "will never be ignored among the Jews."

All of the above can be summarized by noting that Purim has its own essence, the power of the day itself, and this continues to exist on Shabbat even though the special mitzvot are not observed on this day.

Let us end with the beautiful words of Rabbi Tzadok Hakohen of Lublin: "Just as on Yom Kippur, when the essence of the day provides atonement even if the people do not fast... so the days of Purim themselves lead to eradication of Amalek in the upper worlds. But in this case it is at least necessary to be aware that the day is Purim." [Pri Tzadik].

2014-07-19 18:44
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