Thoughts on the Weekly Parshah by HaRav Eliezer Chrysler
Formerly Rav of Mercaz Ahavat Torah, Johannesburg

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Vol. 19   No. 47

This issue is sponsored
l'iluy Nishmas
Menuchah bas Boruch Zvi Mordechai a"h
on her seventeenth Yohrzeit (13th Elul)

Parshas Ki-Seitzei

Opening the Door to Amalek
(Part 1)

"Remember that what Amalek did to you on the way, when you left Egypt" (25:17).

The K'li Yakar at the end of Parshas Beshalach cites the Medrash which compares Amalek to a fly. A fly is a weak creature. Its mouth does not have the capability of puncturing a person's skin and making a hole. Its modus operandi is to find a contaminated spot on its victim's body which is already holed. There it alights and proceeds to enlarge the hole, before tasting his blood and infecting that location.

The very word 'Amalek' is the acronym of 'Am lak' (he licks the blood of the people - K'lal Yisrael) like a fly, and like a fly, he is unable to cause them the least harm, unless Yisrael have sinned, thereby creating the opening which Amalek is now able to enlarge. Indeed, the author elaborates, Amalek is also symbolical of the the Yeitzer ha'Ra, and it is in connection with the Yeitzer ha'Ra that G-d told Kayin in Bereishis [4:7]) "Sin (the Yeitzer ha'Ra) crouches at the entrance". What He meant was that 'if one does not open the door', the Yeitzer ha'Ra is powerless to make a person sin.

And this is what the Gemara in Yuma (39a) means when, commenting on the Pasuk in Acharei-Mos (18:24) "Do not render yourselves impure", it states 'When a person renders himself impure just a little, they render him impure a lot!'


In Parshas Beshalach, Rashi points out that the Torah juxtaposes the episode with Amalek next to Yisrael's query as to whether G-d is in their midst or not. And he elaborates with the Mashal of a father who was walking with his young son on his shoulders. When the youngster saw an article on the ground and asked his father to pick it up and give it to him, the father obliged. This happened a second and a third time. A short while later, as a man walked past them going in the opposite direction, the boy asks him whether he had by any chance seen his father. 'What', the father exclaimed, 'You don't know where I am!' He promptly threw him down and a dog came and bit him.

So too, here. G-d had taken them out of Egypt, split the Reed Sea and drowned the Egyptians, and Yisrael still have doubts as to whether He is in their midst! So He promptly cast them down and along came Amalek (who is compared to a dog) and bit (attacked) them. This suggests that the opening sin that opened the door to Amalek was a lack of faith (Indeed, the commentaries, commenting on the words in the current Parshah "asher korcho ba'derech" - [25:18], which they translate as 'who cooled you down' - do equate Amalek with a distancing of Yisrael from G-d.)

Yet in the current Parshah, Rashi attributes Amalek's attack to their dishonest business dealings, since it is juxtaposed next to the Parshah of false weights and measures.


The truth of the matter is however, that dishonesty and lack of faith are not in the least contradictory. For someone who indulges in business with the knowledge that his Parnasah is determined from above, and that he is merely making the Hishtadlus that is expected of him, will not dream of taking money that is not his.

Emunah is clearly the most powerful antidote against dishonesty. Had Yisrael believed with a perfect faith that G-d is in their midst and they would therefore have dealt with their fellow-Jews with complete honesty, Amalek would never have attacked them!


* * *

Parshah Pearls
(Adapted mainly from the K'li Yakar)

Because it Never Happened

"When a man has a son who has gone astray and who has rebelled " (21:18).

The Gemara in Sanhedrin (71a) states that there has never been a ben Sorer u'Moreh, nor will there ever be one, and the Torah inserts it only to learn the various lessons that it contains.

The K'li Yakar asks why the Torah nevertheless finds it necessary to insert a Parshah that is completely fictional?

He also asks why the Torah needs to add the phrase "and all of Yisrael will hear and be afraid" (a phrase that appears by very few other Mitzvos) and now that it does, why does it omit the words "and they will not sin again", as it does in Parshas Shoftim, with regard to a Zakein Mamrei (a rebellious elder)?

And he explains that the one question answers the other. The reason that the Torah writes "and all of Yisrael will hear and be afraid" is for the people to read the Parshah of ben Sorer u'Moreh and to develop a deep respect for their parents (since per se, the Parshah is superfluous). And the reason that it omits the phrase "and they will not sin again" is because, since it never actually happened, the word 'again' is inappropriate.

The question arises however, why the Torah includes "all Yisrael" in the warning, when it really pertains to the children? The author himself deals with this question. He explains that we are all called "sons of G-d" (see Parshas Re'ei 14:1). And he points out how unfortunately, many people think that because we are His sons, we can allow ourselves to take liberties and transgress His commands, whilst He, like a good father, will overlook our sins.

That is why the Torah teaches us here the folly of that way of thinking. That is why it instructs a father whose son tries to usurp his authority to bring him before Beis-Din to be flogged, and if he declines to mend his ways, to have him killed.


The Jewish Army

"When you go out to war against your enemies, guard yourselves against (performing) all evil things (dovor ra)" (23:10).

The Torah inserts this warning, R. Bachye explains, due to the Kavod of the Aron, which would accompany them to war, and which was not then surrounded by walls, as it was in the desert.

Moreover, he explains, the Torah sees fit to issue this warning with regard to the Jewish army, in view of other armies, who permit themselves all kinds of abominations in wartime (such as murder and theft - See also Ba'al ha'Turim). Therefore the Torah warns Jewish soldiers not to degenerate in this way, but to retain their Torah values and the elevated moral standards imposed by the Torah, even in time of war.


Based on the word "Dovor", the author cites the Sifri, which interprets this warning specifically with regard to the sins of adultery and of Lashon ha'Ra (both based on the word "dovor"). Interestingly, these concern the two areas of Halachah with which G-d made a covenant with us (the covenant of the Milah and the covenant of the mouth).


One Third in Front, Two at Back

" and you shall strike him (the person who committed a sin for which he receives Malkos) one measure of his wickedness in front" (25:2).

"One measure in front", comments Rashi, ' and two at the back'.

The K'li Yakar connects this with the Mishnah in Pirkei Avos which advises us to remember that we come from a putrid drop, are going to a place of worms and that we are all going to have to give a final reckoning before the King of Kings . The stroke in front is for not remembering from where he originally came, whereas the two at the back are for forgetting where he is going and what he will ultimately be forced to do.

And as for the number thirty-nine, he explains, that is because he rebelled against the One G-d (the the Gematriyah of 'Echad" is thirteen), the Torah (which is Darshened with thirteen Midos), and the Yeitzer ha'Tov (which joins a person when he is thirteen).


Weights and Measures & Amalek

"You shall not possess in your house a large Eifah (a flour measure) and a small one. Complete and correct weights you shall have Remember what Amalek did you to you" (25:14-17).

To justify the juxtaposition of the Parshah of Amalek to that of weights and measures, Rashi explains that if we use false weights and measures, one should worry about the an attack by hostile forces, for the one leads to the other.

The K'li Yakar writes that this explains the juxtaposition of Parshas Zachor to Parshas Shekalim. Parshas Shekalim, he reminds us, comes to atone for the sin of the Golden Calf, which in his opinion, was the result of a love of money (see his commentary on Parshas Ki Sissa 30:13), of which dishonest dealings is a branch.

And it is on account of this very sin, that Haman began his attack against the Jewish people with his offer of ten thousand silver Kilar (the equivalent of the total sum of Shekalim donated for the construction of the Mishkan) to King Achashverosh. And it was in order to atone for this sin that Mordechai ordered the people not to take spoil from the nations that they defeated in the battle that followed.

* * *

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