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

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Vol. 9   No. 20

This issue is sponsored
l'iluy Nishmas Reb Shlomoh b'Reb Ya'akov Prenzlau z.l.
whose first Yohrzeit will be on the 17th Adar,
by his children Dr. Eli and Sheryl Prenzlau n.y. and family.

(incorporating Purim Supplement)

(Parshas Zachor)

The Urim ve'Tumim

Rabeinu Bachye describes the Urim ve'Tumim as two different Names of G-d, written (presumably) on parchment and placed in between the folds of the Choshen Mishpat. In fact, he says that explains why the Choshen, of all the holy garments, had folds.

One of the names was 'Urim' (lights), so called because it caused the relevant letters engraved on the Choshen to light up when a question was put to the Kohen Gadol that needed a Divine response. The other Name was 'Tumim' (perfection), because it enabled him to perfect the message, by deciphering it. This entailed unscrambling the letters which lit up on the Choshen, not necessarily in the order that they were meant to be read.

The Gemara in Yuma (73b) interprets "Tumim" as ''she'Mashlimin Divreihem", which means, says the Torah Temimah, that their words are final. In other words, the message conveyed by the Urim ve'Tumim, unlike that of the prophets, which was subject to change (for better or for worse, according to the deeds of the people), was irreversible.

In fact, the Urim ve'Tumim worked in conjunction with the Kohen Gadol, since the Tumim enabled him to attain a level of Ru'ach ha'Kodesh (higher than that of a bas-Kol, but less than that of a prophet - Rabeinu Bachye), to put the message of the Urim into the right perspective.


And yet another connotation of Urim ve'Tumim is presented by the Yerushalmi, which explains "Urim" as 'she'me'irin es Yisrael' (implying that they enlighten Yisrael, rather than lighting up letters on the Choshen), and "Tumim" as 'she'hein matimin lefneihem es ha'derech'. The Torah Temimah, in explaining this, describes how Yisrael had 'to place their house in order', to fully comprehend the Urim ve'Tumim's message. Hence, in Yisrael's war with the tribe of Binyamin, despite the message to go and fight Binyamin, Yisrael initially misunderstood the message. And it was only after they had lost two battles to Binyamin that they were able to clarify the message and go on to win the war. Why? Because they were 'imperfect with G-d', displaying a zealousness for a breach of their own dignity, whilst ignoring the honour of G-d that had been defiled by the image of Michah.


The Urim ve'Tumim were also known as 'K'reisi u'Pleisi'. The Gemara in B'rachos (4a) explains that they were called 'K'reisi', because their words were clear-cut (perhaps in contrast to those of the prophets which generally came to them in riddles) and precise, and 'P'leisi', because their words were wondrous (as we shall now see, in addition to what we have already learnt).


The Rambam in the tenth Perek of K'lei Mikdash, describes how the Urim ve'Tumim worked: The Kohen Gadol stood facing the Aron, the asker behind him facing the Kohen Gadol. Then the asker would pose his question 'Shall I ascend or shall I not ascend'?

The question was not asked in a loud voice, nor was it merely thought in his heart. It was spoken softly, to himself (in an inaudible voice, like one Davens the Amidah).

Immediately, Ru'ach ha'Kodesh would envelope the Kohen Gadol. He would look at the Choshen and see there with a vision of prophecy 'Ascend' or 'Do not ascend' in letters that actually protruded from the Choshen before his eyes, whereupon the Kohen would convey the message to the asker.

The asker never posed two questions simultaneously. If he did, the Choshen would answer only the first question, ignoring the second.

Private people did not have access to the Choshen, which would only respond to a king, the Beis-din ha'Gadol or to someone who was asking on behalf of the community at large (such as the Kohen Gadol for war).


Rabeinu Bachye citing the Ramban, commenting on the Pasuk "And you shall place into the Choshen Mishpat the Urim ve'Tumim", remarks that the Torah refers to the Urim ve'Tumim using the definite article. This suggests that we know what the Torah is referring to, whereas in fact, this is the first time that the Torah mentions them? Moreover, he says, it is strange that unlike all the other holy vessels and garments, by which the Torah writes "and you shall make ... ", no such command is issued with regard to the Urim ve'Tumim.

He therefore concludes that the Urim ve'Tumim were not made by man at all, but by G-d. And he cites as a precedent for the use of the definite article in this way, the K'ruvim that G-d placed outside the gates of Gan Eden. The Torah writes there in Bereishis (3:24) "And he placed on the east of the Garden of Eden the K'ruvim ... ", even though no mention of them had been made previously.


Parshah Pearls

A Rim Around the Mouth

" ... a rim shall be for its mouth, surrounding it ... and golden bells among them" (28:32/33). The rim around the mouth comes as a sound piece of advice to keep a tight control of what one says. This pertains to devorim beteilim (idle words of no consequence), which should be reduced to a bare minimum.

The bells on the other hand, signify words of Torah and Tefilah, which should be heard - and the more the better. They were made of gold and they were placed on the hem (the lowest part) of the Cloak, because, it is when they are spoken humbly that they are as valuable as gold (based on the Likutim Yekarim).


730 per Annum

" ... shenayim la'yom tamid (two each day regularly)" (29:38).

The first letters of these words, the Ba'al ha'Turim points out, add up to seven hundred and thirty, because that is how many lambs they brought (at two every day) each year.


Seven Little Lambs

This Parshah contains the words "Kevasim" (in the plural), ha'keves", "ha'keves", "la'keves" and "ha'keves", the Ba'al ha'Turim observes. This hints at the six inspected lambs that were always ready to be sacrificed in the 'Lishkas ha'Tela'im (the Room of the Lambs)'.


Parshas Zachor
Fearing Man, Fearing G-d

" ... and you were tired and weary, and did not fear G-d" (25:18).

Do not be surprised, explains the Chizkuni, that Amalek was able to do you so much harm. After all, he says, you were tired and weary from the travails of the journey, and you did not fear G-d (see Rashi), as the Mechilta explains, citing Acheirim. This refers to Yisrael, who had been given Mitzvos, which they had not kept. Tosfos too, learns this way, and based on the Gemara in Bava Metzi'a (61b), he points to the particular sin of dishonest weights and measures that precedes the Parshah of Amalek.

Had you feared G-d, the Chizkuni concludes, Amalek would not have succeeded in his attempt to fight you.

The message is clear - when we fear G-d, we will not need to fear man. We only need to fear man when our fear of G-d is deficient.


The Haftarah
Misplaced Pity

The Navi relates how King Shaul had pity on the best of the sheep, as well as on Agag. And he informs us what happened when he allowed that pity to get the better of him, causing him to disobey Shmuel's instructions, And this in turn later resulted in his own demise. The Gemara in Yuma (22b) however, fills in the background, describing what really went on in Shaul's mind. Commenting on the Pasuk "and he quarreled in the valley", Rebbi Mani explains that it was not just with Amalek with whom Shaul quarreled, but with G-d. Presumably, the word "quarreled" does not fit so well into the context, since this is not the way one normally refers to a battle (the word 'fought' would have been more appropriate) .

In fact, the Gemara explains, Shaul objected to his instructions to wipe out Amalek. And he based his objection on the Parshah of Eglah Arufah, where the Torah takes the death of one individual extremely seriously, requiring a calf to be brought as a form of atonement, and its neck to be broken. How much more of a tragedy it was, he argued, to kill all these innocent people! Even if the people did sin, he argued, what did the animals do? And if the grown-ups were guilty, why did the children have to die?

G-d's response to Shaul was in the form of a Heavenly Voice, which announced 'Don't be such a big Tzadik! (Koheles 7)'


The sequel to the above episode took place some time later, when Shaul ordered Do'eg to kill Achimelech the Kohen Gadol, together with the eighty inhabitants of Nov, the city of Kohanim. This time, the Heavenly Voice responded with the words 'Don't be so wicked' (ibid.).

For so Chazal have taught - 'Someone who is kind to the cruel will end up being cruel to the kind'!


We can learn from this that, when sins are not the result of bad midos, then they are often based on weak hashkofos, and what is perhaps even a more basic flaw, on a lack of faith in G-d and in the firm conviction that His Torah is true. This in itself, may not be such a terrible sin. Yet it is the pillar that makes for a sound edifice when it is strong, but which causes that same edifice to collapse when it is weak.



Separating Ma'asros on Shabbos and Yom-tov
(Si'man 10)

1. The separation of T'rumos and Ma'asros on Shabbos and Yom-tov is prohibited. In the event that one Ma'asered them be'meizid (knowing that one was contravening Shabbos ...), the fruit is forbidden until Motza'ei Shabbos; be'shogeg (not realising that one was contravening Shabbos ... ), then the fruit is permitted even to the person who separated them.

2. Someone who remembers on Erev Shabbos or Yom-tov that he has in his possession fruit that has not yet been Ma'asered, and which he is unable to Ma'aser then, may stipulate that he will Ma'aser them on Shabbos or Yom-tov. What he then does is to recite the entire text of Hafrashas T'rumos and Ma'asros, but in the future (i.e. Whatever is in excess of a hundredth ... will be Terumah Gedolah on the north side ... '. He must specifically have in mind for the Ma'asros not to take effect now, only tomorrow. Then on the following day, when he actually separates the Ma'asros, he repeats the text in the present tense.

One should remember however, that Terumah is Muktzah. Consequently, already before he begins reciting the text, he should place the Terumah in a location where he will not need to move it afterwards.

3. It is only possible to apply this leniency however, with one's own fruit, not with the fruit of someone for example, by whom he intends to eat, and whom he suspects does not observe this Mitzvah. In such a case, there is nothing he can do about Ma'asering the fruit.


Fruit Belonging to a Gentile
(Si'man 11)

1. Fruit that both grew in the domain of a gentile, and reached the stage of Ma'aser at the hands of a gentile, is exempt from T'rumos and Ma'asros. But if it reached the stage of Ma'asros at the hand of a Jew, the obligation to Ma'aser it takes effect.

2. It is uncertain as to whether the grapes of today are intended mainly for eating or for wine-making, and, as we explained earlier, the final stage of olives and grapes that are intended for eating corresponds to that of other fruit (i.e. when, after picking, they are loaded into a vessel). Whereas their final stage, when they are intended for wine or olive production, is when they become wine or oil.

Consequently, someone who buys grapes from a gentile, is obligated to Ma'aser them, irrespective of whether he bought them to eat, or to produce grape-juice or wine. However, if the entire harvesting process was performed by the gentile, then the purchaser should separate the Ma'asros without a B'rachah (unless the Minhag is to recite a B'rachah).

(Note, that grape-juice has the same Din as wine, both as regards B'rachah, the separating of T'rumos and Ma'asros and as regards wine that is handled by a gentile or a Mumar.)

3. Raisins that one buys from a gentile, and that one knows were manufactured by a gentile, are exempt from Ma'asros. However, if one uses them for wine making, one should Ma'aser the wine without a B'rachah.

4. If one buys a species brand of olives that is generally used for eating or pickling (and not for producing oil), one is not required to Ma'aser them, since the g'mar melachah (the final stage before Ma'asros) took place at the hands of a gentile.

5. The fruit of a gentile in the Sh'mitah-year has Kedushas Shevi'is (according to the opinion of the Chazon Ish). Nevertheless, if the g'mar melachah took place at the hand of a Jew, it is subject to T'rumos and Ma'asros (though without a B'rachah). The second Ma'aser in this case will be Ma'aser Ani (and not Ma'aser Sheini).


This section is co-sponsored with best wishes
for a Refu'ah Sh'leimah for
Rifkah bas Shprintzah n.y.
Nachman Zvi ben Sarah n.y.
and Dalyah bas Shoshanah n.y.
l'iluy Nishmas
Frank Kaplan

Speishel Poorim Supplement

Chalk and Cheese

Did you ever stop to think about what was so different between Mordechai and Haman? Why is it that the one is blessed, the other, cursed?

It seems to me that the contrast is best described in the one's total ego, and in the other's total selflessness. Haman loved Kavod, he lived Kavod, and he was willing to do anything for Kavod (except die for it - for reasons which are not difficult to imagine). Nothing mattered, nobody mattered, only his Kavod mattered, and woe betide the individual, the family, the community, even the nation, that dared stand between him and the apple of his eye.

See how Haman reacted when Mordechai refused to bow down to him. Now don't for one moment imagine that the poor fellow was starved of Kavod. Not one bit! In fact, he had so much of it that you could almost see it oozing from his ears (and if you didn't see it, he certainly made sure that you heard it).

Take for example, his reaction to Mordechai's refusal to bow down to him. Now here he was, the first and foremost minister of the mighty Persian empire, with all the power and glory that anyone could ever dream of, not to mention his vast wealth. There was nothing for which a man could aspire that he did not have. Yet all it took was for Mordechai to refuse to bow down to him, and hey presto, Haman loses his cool! What for?

What a silly question! For a bit of Kavod of course.


And all because one man wouldn't bow down to him, he thought nothing of exterminating hundreds of thousands of innocent people (all of whom by the way, did bow down to him!). Moreover, he was quite willing to give away millions of silver Shekalim (a veritable fortune in those days as well as in these) for the privilege of committing genocide, because that was his assessment of the value of the Kavod that they had robbed him of. So that was the pound of flesh that his revenge would cost the perpetrators.


A similar scenario occurs again later when, the Megilah informs us, Mordechai (who, together with his entire people are already 'doomed', at least as far as Haman is concerned) persists in his refusal. But this time notice, he even refuses to rise from his seat or to acknowledge his presence as Haman walks past (let alone bow down to him).

Poor, poor Haman! Imagine that on this occasion, his imminent revenge imminently sweet in his mouth, Mordechai and all the Jews are his for the taking, and are already squirming like worms (in the middle of a three-day fast and Tefilah-session) like sheep on their way to the slaughter.

And if that isn't enough, he is the only man in the big, wide world to be invited to good Queen Esther's party together with the King, and believe you me, he didn't take that Kavod with a pinch of salt either. In fact, he basked in that glorious piece of sunshine too, and not only for the Kavod, but, as Chazal explain, other sinister thoughts and plans flooded his mind following the invitation.

Yet, just as he is feeling at his smuggest and most vain-glorious, as he is approaching the pinnacle of unrestrained Kavod, with all obstacles removed, along comes the same Mordechai (the kill-joy), and repeats the performance, placing a spoke in his second wheel. For, as far as Haman is concerned, Kavod that is depleted is as useless as a magnificent palace with a broken doorknocker. What is all the Kavod in the world worth, when it is marred by one stubborn man (albeit with a noose around his neck, the noose that he, Haman, has placed there) who simply refuses to tow the party line? And so, with all his dreams of unbridled Kavod dashed to the ground, sullen and broken in spirit, he complains bitterly to his wife how all that Kavod is worth nothing to him, as long as Mordechai the Jew refuses to rise before him ... .

Poor, deprived Haman!


Concerning Mordechai, as we wrote earlier, the brush that paints his picture is made of a different fibre. Nothing he ever does is for own personal benefit. He is totally dedicated to his people and he directs all his efforts on their behalf. He prays for the people, he cries with them, and he rents his garments when the tide turns against them. But the extent of his humility can best be gauged by his willingness to play second fiddle to his niece (and wife) Esther. He knows that in her capacity as queen, she is better placed to save the Jewish people than he is, so he keeps watch and he waits, he guides and he advises her, but always in the background. And when she issues him with instructions, he jumps to carry them out. If Esther emerges as the heroine of the Megilah, it is largely due to Mordechai, who pushed her to the front, deliberately allowing her to orchestrate the salvation, in the knowledge that she will take the credit for what transpired.

This is what the Medrash Rabah (Parshas Tetzaveh) writes about Mordechai. "And you will ride on their high places" (ve'Zos ha'Berachah) - in the days of Mordechai, as it is written (Esther 6:11) "And Haman took the robes and the horse ... ". What is it that caused Mordechai to receive such greatness? The answer is his constant prayer ... . For even when Mordechai perceived the greatness that was bestowed upon him, he did not become proud. What did he do? He returned to his prayers, as it is written "And Mordechai returned ... " (to what he had been doing previously ... to his Tefilah and to his sackcloth and ashes).

It is truly remarkable for someone who has just been led in honour around the capitol city, and particularly under the circumstances that Mordechai was, to remain unmoved by it all, and to possess the self-control to be able to return to his sack-cloth and ashes, and to his Tefilos. Why? Because he knew that his people were still in danger, and their needs took precedence over his own personal jubilation in overcoming his enemy.


Megapearls from the Megilah
The Gallows

(adapted from Targum Yonasan)
Why Gallows?

The Targum Yonasan describes how Zeresh and all Haman's cronies went through Jewish history, eliminating one possible method of genocide after another. They could not put Mordechai to death by the sword, they argued, because his ancestors had already killed their enemies by the sword. They couldn't stone him to death, because David had killed Golyas with stones, and they couldn't drown him, because Yisrael had already been saved from drowning when they crossed the Reed Sea. And so the list went on ... fire, lions and dogs, exile into the desert, imprisonment and slitting his throat ... .

Everything had been tried and had failed. There was only one thing left, and that was hanging. To Zeresh and Haman's credit, they were instrumental in making sure that hanging too, would never succeed, thereby ensuring that Yisrael were destined to eternal safety and security. Unfortunately however, they invented gunpowder ... and guns ... electricity ... and gas!


Never a Time Like the Present

Build the gallows immediately, they advised Haman, so that the following morning, he could hang Mordechai at the crack of dawn, so to speak ('Z'rizin makdimin ... '). That way, he would be able to go to Esther's party, his happiness unimpeded. As far as Haman was concerned, close on the heels of Kavod came happiness and fun.

That, I suppose, is one way of dealing with people who, by virtue of their very existence, interfere with one's fun and joy. Get rid of them! - as the old saying goes 'If you can't join em, beat 'em' (in fulfilment of the Pasuk "ve'Nahafoch hu").

One wonders of course, how one's conscience still allows one's happiness to reach a climax. But then, someone whose be all and end all is that extra ounce of happiness, probably doesn't have a conscience.


Fun and Games

So Haman wasted not a minute, the Targum informs us. In fact, he ran to find carpenters to build the gallows and metal-smiths to fashion the iron knife (though it is not clear what purpose that knife served, since that's not quite how a gallows works, and besides, this wasn't the French Revolution).

So the carpenters built the gallows, the metal-smiths fashioned the knife. Meanwhile, Haman's sons cheered them on, and Haman's wife Zeresh and Haman played the harp (and danced a jig).

Haman told himself that when the gallows was complete, he would pay the carpenters and make a party for the metal-smiths on the very platform on which the gallows stood. And when the gallows was completed, Haman stood next to it and tried on the noose (whilst imagining that this was happening to Mordechai). At that moment, a Heavenly Voice announced 'excellent, evil Haman, it's made to measure, bar Hamdasa. You did indeed make the gallows for yourself!' (Somehow, I doubt whether Haman heard the Heavenly Voice, since people do tend to hear only what they want to hear, don't they?).


The Ironical Switch

That was Zeresh's plan. But that was not quite what happened, as we know. Because, despite the fact that the gallows did go up immediately, as we just explained, Mordechai did not hang on the gallows the next morning, but neither did Haman. In fact, he ended up being hanged on them the morning after.

That being the case, the building of the gallows could really have waited for the next day. Then why did it need to be built that night?

It is of course true that the gallows were Haman's justification for going to the King in the middle of the night (to ask for Mordechai to be hung on them). But there's more to it than that.


For you see, at this point, everything is building up to a climax. The King is doing his thing, Esther her's, Mordechai his and Haman his, and their actions are going to merge at one specific point in the Megilah. What is interesting is that Esther and Mordechai and even the King, are all moving in the same direction. Even Achashveirosh now realizes that he has been backing the wrong horse, that Mordechai is his friend and Haman, who is after his wife as well as his throne, his enemy. So he has succumbed somewhat graciously to Mordechai and Esther's prayers (which has cost him nothing more than a few sleepless hours). Only Haman, devoid of any spark of G-dliness in true Amaleiki style, remains oblivious to every vestige of truth, and continues traveling on a collision course with the other three.

That explains why, when the turning point arrives, it is Haman who is caught by surprise, and whose world collapses in one moment, as he is pulled up with a jolt. And the turning point is when Achashveirosh tells Haman to take the royal regalia and the horse and ... to do what he had suggested, with himself in mind, to Mordechai.

At that point, the tables are truly turned. From then on, everything moves in the opposite direction, with Haman, back to the wall, becoming the target of G-d's (and Achashveirosh's) wrath.


And the gallows had to be standing, for the subtle, sudden switch of roles between villain and hero to achieve its full impact. Because, as Achashveirosh uttered those fateful words, the scene was set for Mordechai to rise and for Haman to fall. The gallows which Haman had built for Mordechai, and which he had arrived in the palace to organise, now loomed ominously, ready to accept him as a substitute for Mordechai.

And this also explains why Haman followed Zeresh's advice to the letter, except for one detail. Zeresh told him to go to the king in the morning and ask for permission to hang Mordechai. But Haman (the super Zariz) had to go in the middle of the night. Indeed he did! He had to fit in with the Divine plan. For sure, to hang Mordechai on the gallows, it would have sufficed to ask the king in the morning. However, G-d's plan was for Haman, and not Mordechai, to hang. Consequently, it was essential for him to arrive a little earlier, in order to play his role in the proceedings, to be in the right place in the right time when he was needed there. So G-d made sure that he did just that. He put it into Haman's head to go to the palace, not the following morning as Zeresh had suggested, but in the middle of the night.


Yisrael in Control

Finally, the question arises, what was it that caused the sudden switch between villain and hero.

The answer is given clearly by the Targum Yonasan, who ascribes this to a change of heart on the part of Yisrael (forever the ones to pull the strings of destiny). Following Esther's second invitation of Haman to her party, K'lal Yisrael expressed disappointment in Esther, who, they had hoped, would intercede on their behalf and request from the King to have him killed. Instead, she persisted in inviting him to party after party. And so they began to pray to G-d directly, and to plead with Him for salvation. This was, of course, precisely what Esther (as well as G-d) had hoped would happen. And it was at that moment that G-d turned the tables, causing first Achashveirosh's sleep to be disturbed ... and then, putting into Haman's head to build a gallows, and to make his way to the royal palace in the middle of the night ... . Incidentally, this also explains why Esther needed to arrange a second party, and did not plead with the King at the first one (see 'Parshah Pearls' of last year). Because, whereas most of the other players were performing their roles, G-d was waiting for Yisrael to play theirs. The moment they did, G-d forced Haman to play the game too. At the time of the first party, this would have been premature.

That very night, the Targum concludes, G-d answered their prayers, because He always answers our prayers at night-time, as we see with Paroh, with Sancheiriv and on many other occasions.


Room to Swing

Targun Yonasan explains why, considering that an average man is three amos tall) the gallows needed to reach a height of fifty amos. For when all's said and done, eleven men would only require thirty-three amos to hang comfortably.

Starting from the bottom, he explains, three amos was submerged in the ground. Four and a half amos was left empty, and then came -


taking up a space of three amos. This was followed by half an amah space (presumably, because a person, say Chazal, is three amos minus his head - most people do have heads -(so half an amah space was allowed to accommodate each one's head, [and this time I'm being serious]).

Then came - Dalfon
and last but not least, yours truly Haman.

Above him, they left a space of three amos, which remained empty so that the birds would not eat his flesh.

All this adds up to forty-nine and a half amos. I cannot for the life of me, work out what happened to the missing half amah, and am willing to pay a reward for its return.

Please note that we have presented the swinging artists in the order that the Targum presents them, from the bottom upwards. To actually visualize them hanging, you would be best advised to comply with "ve'nehafoch hu" and turn the page upside down.

Interestingly, the Targum Sheini arrives at fifty Amos differently than the Targum Yonasan.


The Rejection of Amalek
(adapted from the Torah Temimah)

G-d swore by His Throne of Glory, says Rebbi Eliezer, that a gentile from any nation who comes to convert will be accepted, unless he comes from Amalek and his family (Mechilta). That is why the Torah writes "mi'dor dor". Rebbi Eliezer derives this from a combination of the fact that a 'Gimel' and a 'Daled' (like all consecutive letters) are interchangeable, and that "mi'dor dor" is written without 'Vavin'. Consequently, the Pasuk reads "milchomoh la'Hashem ba'Amalek mi'ger ger", teaching us G-d's total rejection of the Amalekim, even after they have converted.

And he goes on to prove this from the episode in Shmuel 2, where David asked the young man who claimed to have killed King Shaul where he was from, to which he replied that he was the son of an Amaleki convert.

At that moment, David recalled the command that G-d issued Moshe ... not to accept converts from Amalek, and so he replied "You have caused your own death, by virtue of your testimony".


This is most strange, asks the Torah Temimah. From the flow of the Pesukim it would seem that David was referring to the Amaleki's testimony that he had killed King Shaul, and not to the fact that he was an Amaleki. Indeed, that is how the commentaries explain it, despite the fact that, contrary to the Amaleki's claim, it was Shaul who killed himself by falling on his sword. In fact, David Hamelech implied that, were it not for his claim, he would not have killed him, even though he was an Amaleki, negating the very point that the Rebbi Eliezer is making.


To resolve this difficulty, the Torah Temimah, points to David's unusually lengthy explanation as to why he killed the man. Why, he asks, did he find it necessary to justify his act, when on numerous occasions, he sentenced people to death without as much as a murmer?

Evidently, David, in his deep wisdom, realized from the Amaleki's words that he had not killed Shaul at all, and that he was merely looking to find favour in David's eyes. In that case, he did not really deserve the death penalty for killing Shaul, and certainly not for his vain boasts, even if they were false.


It is therefore evident that David's real motive for issuing the death-penalty here was because, as the youth himself testified, he was an Amaleki, and, as Rebbi Eliezer learns from our Pasuk, G-d's war with Amalek continues even after they have converted.

Why then, did he convey the impression that he was punishing him for striking down the king, seeing as that was not the real reason at all? The answer to that is for political expedience. He preferred to hide his true motive from the nations of the world to avoid the ensuing outrage at his callousness. So he took advantage of the information supplied by the Amaleki, and used it as a cover-up.


The Torah Temimah himself in Parshas No'ach (9:5 [8]), explains the Pasuk in Shmuel quite differently, based on a Yerushalmi. The Yerushalmi in Kidushin rules that, as opposed to a Jew, a gentile is put to death on his own admission.

In that case, what David Hamelech was saying to the youth was, that had he not stated his nationality, he (David) would not have been able to kill him (seeing as there were no witnesses, and a Jew cannot be sentenced to death without witnesses). However, having admitted that he was an Amaleki convert, he had effectively signed his own death warrant, since his conversion was null and void (like the ruling of the Mechilta). Consequently, he remained a gentile as before, and he stood implicated by his own testimony.


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