This issue is sponsored
Vol. 19 No. 48
in honour of the marriage of
Miryami Bussu to Roni Osborne n"y
שיזכו לבנות בית נאמן בישראל
Opening the Door to Amalek
"Remember that which Amalek did to you on the way, when you left Egypt" (25:17).
Last week we discussed the K'li Yakar's explanation on Amalek, who is compared to a fly, which is only able to attack a person who already has a wound. And we discussed how this symbolizes the Yeitzer ha'Ra, who has no entr?e to a person unless he 'opens the door' by first sinning. This is what Chazal mean when they say that 'when a person renders himself impure just a little, they render him impure a lot!'
He also cites the Medrash, which compares this concept to a king who built a strong fence around his vineyard, and who announced that whoever breached the vineyard would be bitten by the dog that was lurking inside the vineyard. As long as the wall was intact, the dog had no access to anybody walking outside the vineyard, … . This Medrash is particularly apt, as Amalek is also compared to a dog.
In last week's issue, we resolved an apparent contradiction in the Pesukim according to Rashi's interpretation. The K'li Yakar himself explains the Pesukim slightly differently. According to him, when, at the end of Parshas Beshalach, the Torah records how Yisrael queried whether Hashem was in their midst, it follows the naming of the town where they were encamping 'Masa u'Merivah', in connection with their having quarreled with each other and tested Hashem … by asking whether "Hashem was in their midst". In other words, it was the fact that they sinned both against G-d and against their fellow man that brought Amalek. And he points out that it was in the same vein that Haman (a descendant of Amalek) described Yisrael to Achashverosh as -'scattered and detached' ("mefuzar u'meforad") - scattered (disunified) from one another and detached from the Shechinah.
And the same can be said concerning dishonest weights and measures (at the end of Ki Seitzei), which is a direct result of a lack of Emunah, as we explained last week.
It is when Yisrael lack both unity among themselves and faith in G-d that Amalek attacks.
A Time to Complain
"And G-d did not give you a heart to understand, eyes to see and ears to hear until this day!"
'to acknowledge the kindnesses of Hakadosh-Baruch-Hu and to cleave to Him', comments Rashi.
To explain the issue, Rashi adds the following: 'I heard that on that day Moshe gave the Seifer-Torah (that he had just completed) to the Kohanim, the sons of Levi, as the Torah relates in Parshas Vayeilech (31:19). The whole of Yisrael then came before Moshe and said to him "Moshe our Rebbe, we too stood at Har Sinai, where we accepted the Torah and it was given to us. On what grounds are you now appointing your own tribe as our bosses? Tomorrow they will turn round and tell us that the Torah was not given to you; it was given to us!"
This gave Moshe much pleasure, causing him to declare joyfully "Today you have (at last) become a nation … !" Today I know that you cleave to G-d and really want Him!"
There are good Midos and there are bad Midos. Generally speaking, our job is to develop the good ones and to avoid the bad ones like a plague. However, just as it is possible to abuse good Midos (by being kind to a thief, for example, instead of bringing him to justice), it is possible to use what is essentially a bad Midah for the good. A good example of this is hating the Resha'im (as David ha'Melech writes in Tehilim "I hate them to the nth degree"). Rebbi Yisrael Salanter explains that there is even a time for Apikorsus (heresy [otherwise, why did G-d create it?]). And he explains that when a poor man approaches a person for assistance, one should momentarily forget that there is a G-d in the world, who looks after each and every individual. One is permitted, no, obligated, to think that 'if I don't help this man out, he will starve to death', and to open one's hand and give generously.
Grumbling, too, is basically a bad Midah. The Mishnah in Pirkei Avos (5:6) refers to the ten times that Yisrael tested Hashem. Most of those tests consisted of grumbling - They grumbled about the Manna, about the lack of water and of meat and about the need to constantly travel. And in so doing, they aroused G-d's ire.
Now, for the first time in forty years, K'lal Yisrael were complaining about a lack of spirituality. They were jealous of Levi, who were being given a larger role than they were in Kabolas ha'Torah, and Chazal have taught that 'jealousy of Talmidei-Chachamim leads to wisdom' (Bava Basra 21a). At long last they were putting the Midah of grumbling (as well as that of jealousy) to the use for which it was created. No wonder Moshe was pleased!
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(Adapted from the K'li Yakar)
Bikurim & Humility
And it shall be when you come to the land … and you inherit it and dwell in it … Then you shall take from the first-fruits of the land … " 26:1/2).
The only other Mitzvah by which the Torah uses the expression inheritance (which generally refers to the fourteen-year period of conquest and distribution of Eretz Yisrael), says the K'li Yakar, is that of appointing a king.
It is when Yisrael suddenly find themselves with plenty that it goes to their head and they start making demands of self-rule (as opposed to being under the direct Divine jurisdiction) like all the other nations. This is reminiscent of the Pasuk in Ha'azinu (32:15) which describes how Yisrael with an overabundance of wealth, waxing fat, turns to other gods to help them become even wealthier.
That is why the Torah inserts here the Mitzvah of Bikurim, with the purpose of ascribing their wealth to G-d's kindness, before the sense of pride in their own achievements has a chance to set in.
Reward in Three Worlds
"G-d will command with you B'rachah in your storehouses and in all your undertakings; He will bless you in the land and He will set you up for Himself as a holy nation … " (28:8/9).
Commenting on the Pasuk in Mishlei, Chazal explain (and we cite this at a Siyum Masechta) ' "When you go on your way it (Torah) will lead you" - in this world; "when you lie down, it protects you" - in the grave; " ... when you wake up" - in the world to come'.
Similarly here, the K'li Yakar explains, the current Pasuk refers to the same three worlds: "the B'rachah in all your storehouses and all your undertakings" refers to the reward in this world; "and He will bless you in the land" refers to when you are in the grave, and "Hashem will set you up" (i.e. when you will come alive from among the dead) refers to Olam ha'Ba.
"G-d will open His good storehouse - the Heaven, to give you rain" (28:12).
The Pasuk is referring to that special storehouse that houses Yir'as Shamayim. Indeed, it is the way of kings to keep in their treasury things that are precious and things that are rare.
And so it is hardly surprising that the King of Kings has a treasury too. And that treasury houses Yir'as Shamayim (our Yir'as Shamayim), as the Pasuk writes in Yeshayah "the fear of G-d, that is His treasury".
He keeps it there because it is so rare, as Chazal have said 'Everything is in the Hands of G-d, with the exception of Yir'as Shamayim'. Or, as other commentaries explain. because He Himself does not possess fear of His own.
G-d of course, has no need of our Yir'as Shamayim. However, He keeps it there, and when the need arises, He opens His storehouse and showers us with its contents. Hence the Pasuk explains that He opens His storehouse and sends us rain.
And this explains, says the K'li Yakar, the Gemara in Ta'anis (2a) which discusses the three keys that remain under G-d's personal jurisdiction - the key of birth, the key of rain and the key of Techi'as ha'Meisim. It is easy to understand why He retains the keys of birth and Techi'as ha'meisim under His charge (since they are the keys to life). But why does He not hand the key of rain to a Shali'ach?
And he answers that this is because rain is stored in the same storehouse as life, as this Pasuk teaches us.
See also the second B'rachah of the Amidah, where rain is placed on a par with Techi'as ha'Meisim, because, like the latter, it symbolizes life.
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