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

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Vol. 7   No. 24

Parshas Vayikro

Reflections on Parshas Zochor
Adapted from the Yalkut Yitzchok

Remembering Amolek

"Remember what Amolek did to you" (25:17).

Why does the Torah ask us to remember Amolek, in order to destroy him, asks the Alshich? Having given us the mitzvah to destroy him, why do we also need to make a point of remembering what he did? And besides, if Hashem wants Amolek destroyed, why doesn't He just go ahead and destroy him? Who is Amolek to stand in G-d's way?


It is well-known, the Alshich explains, that G-d does not destroy any nation on earth before He has destroyed its Guardian Angel in heaven. And the Guardian Angel of Eisov and Amolek is none other than Samoel, alias the Sotton and the Yeitzer ho'ra, who cannot be destroyed as long as there are sins in Yisroel. Every time Yisroel sin, they give Samoel strength and add to his life-span.


That is why G-d commanded us firstly to remember Amolek, to develop a loathing towards the powers of evil that he embodies. This remembrance will in turn, spur us on to take up arms against him, to eliminate him from within, as well as from without.

Doing that will grant G-d the power to destroy Samoel from the Heaven, leaving the way open to destroy Amolek once and for all, from earth.


Amolek, say Chazal, travelled 1600 mil that night. He arrived from the land of the south, attacking Yisroel as a phase in the ongoing enmity between Eisov and Ya'akov. He killed men from the tribe of Don, whom the Cloud had ejected on account of the image (of Michoh) that they had in their midst (Targum Yonoson). In Shir ha'Shirim, he attributes Amolek's obsessive hatred towards Yisroel to Ya'akov's having obtained the birthright from Eisov, and his success in unleashing a war against Yisroel to their laxness in Torah-study.


Fighting on Two Fronts

Moshe fought with Amolek's Guardian Angel, and Yehoshua with the physical army (Zohar). When Moshe saw the might of Samoel, who was coming to assist Amolek, he mobilized Mattatron (the overseer of all the angels) to fight on behalf of Yisroel. That also explains why he appointed Yehoshua to lead Yisroel to war - because Yehoshua, like Mattatron, was called 'Na'ar' (Zohar).


The War Where Nobody Died

Amolek was a wizard, and he picked soldiers who were destined not to die that year, explains Rabeinu Bachye. That is why Yehoshua too, was told to pick men who were likewise destined not to die that year. This explains why the Torah writes that Yehoshua weakened Amolek - he weakened him, but did not kill him. (The Targum Yonoson that we quoted earlier, clearly does not subscribe to this explanation, and neither does Rashi - 17:13).


Brothers in Arms

In the battle with Amolek, Aharon, Chur, Yehoshua and Moshe participted. This is hinted in the posuk "Hinei mah tov u'mah no'im sheves achim gam yachad", where the word "achim" is comprised of the first letters of their names.


Purim Takes the Cake

Purim, explains the Yad Yosef, is equal to all the Yomim-tovim.

On Pesach: Yisroel went from slavery to freedom - on Purim, from death to life.

On Shevu'os: They received the Torah - on Purim, they re-accepted it (Shabbos 88a).

On Rosh Hashonoh: the Books of the living and of the dead are open and their fate for the coming year is sealed - on Purim, there was a sealed decree.

Yom Kipur atones - Purim is like Yom Kipur (as the Medrash Eliyohu writes). Presumably, this refers to the well-known hint: Yom Kipurim = Yom ke'Purim (meaning that what the one achieves through fasting, the other achieves through feasting).

On Succos: there were Clouds of Glory - on Purim, many gentiles converted and entered beneath the Wings of the Shechinah.


The Nachal Eison adds that Shabbos and Rosh Chodesh too, are closely linked to Purim - because Vashti was killed on Shabbos naked, because that is how she used to force Jewish girls to work on Shabbos. And Rosh Chodesh, inasmuch as it is on Rosh Chodesh Ador that they would issue the announcement regarding the donations of the half-shekel.


All this, he explains, is hinted in the letters of the two words in Parshas Zochor "Zikoron ba'Seifer":


The 'zayin' hints at Shabbos (the seventh day);
the 'kof' at Yom Kipur;
the 'reish' at Rosh Hashonoh;
the 'vov' and the 'nun' at Shevu'os (the 'vov' to the Tree of Life - in Kabbalistic terms - or to the sixth of Sivan; the 'nun' to the fiftieth day after Pesach).


The 'beis' hints at the Beis ha'Mikdosh, which requires a king and the annihilation of Amolek.
Consequently, through the rulership of Mordechai and Esther, Homon (Amolek) was destroyed and the scene was set for the building of the second Beis ha'Mikdosh;
the 'samech' hints at Succos;
the 'pey' at Pesach, and
the 'reish' at Rosh Chodesh.


Parshah Pearls


Making Oneself Small

Based on the fact that the word 'alef' means 'to learn' (as in the posuk "va'alefcho chochmoh" - Iyov 33:33), the commentaries, commenting on the significance of the little 'alef' in the word "vayikro", explain that, in order to learn Torah, one must be humble. The words of Torah will not penetrate a heart that is proud.

The Degel Machaneh Ephrayim goes one step further. He explains that the very purpose of learning Torah is to attain humility (Ma'ayonoh shel Torah).


You Shouldn't Have Turned Round

Someone once asked Rebbi Bunem mi'P'shischa how it could be that throughout his life he had run away from honour, yet honour had not run after him, as Chazal say it will.

Rebbi Bunem answered him like this: "It is clear from your question that on occasions, whilst you were running away from kovod, you turned round to see if it was coming. The moment you did that, kovod thought that you were about to run after it, so it turned round and fled - just as Chazal have said it will (Ma'ayonoh shel Torah).


Humility and the Fear of G-d

"The beginning (the head or the crown) of wisdom is the fear of G-d" (Tehillim 111:10) teaches us that the fear of G-d is on a higher plain than wisdom, and the Gemoro in Shabbos (31a) bears this out.

Shlomoh ha'Melech wrote in Mishlei "The heel of humility is the fear of G-d" implying that humility leads to the fear of G-d, in which case it is the fear of G-d that is on a higher plain than humility.

Indeed, that is the order in which they appear in the famous B'raysa of Rebbi Pinchos ben Yo'ir (in Avodoh-Zoroh 20b), where he writes 'Anovoh mevi'oh li'yedei yir'as chet'; and that is the order in which the Mesilas Yeshorim (which is based on that B'raysa) lists them.

Tosfos however, cites a Yerushalmi in Sh'kolim, which places humility above the fear of G-d, and that conforms with the opinion of Rebbi Yehoshua ben Levi (cited in the Gemoro immediately after the B'raysa).

And that Yerushalmi presumably, is based on another Yerushalmi in Shabbos, which explains the posuk in Mishlei like this:

'What wisdom made a crown for its head (the fear of G-d), humility made a heel for its sole.'

In other words, the fear of G-d may be on a higher plain than wisdom, but it is way below humility. In that case, the sequence in ascending order is wisdom, the fear of G-d, humility.

Rashi in Mishlei, cites both possible ways of explaining the posuk.


Vayikro and Humility

Why did the Torah choose this particular spot to teach us the vital lesson of the little 'aleph'?

There are a number of good reasons for that. Firstly, this is not only the beginning of the middle Seifer (the third of the five Books and - Chazal have taught us in Megilah - that the middle is important) but it is also the Seifer which contains the bulk of the mitzvos. What is perhaps even more to the point is the fact that it is the Seifer that deals with the Avodas ha'Mishkon, and what could possibly inspire a person to attain humility more than the awe-inspiring experience of standing in G-d's House and bringing Him a sacrifice? In any event, the Beis Hamikdosh is the very embodiment of Yir'as Hashem (see 'Lions' in Parshah Pearls of last week's issue), which, as we just explained (see previous article), is inter-linked with humility.


In addition, the Torah is now about to teach us about Korbonos, one of whose most important functions is to remind us that we have sinned, and that we are offering the soul of an animal to atone for our own, and together with which we are obliged to confess - the essence of humility.


Humility and Moshe

It is also appropriate that the Torah chooses, not only to convey this lesson at this juncture, but to do so through the medium of Moshe Rabeinu. It is interesting to note that, whenever Moshe witnessed the appearance of the Shechinah, it was this closeness to the Shechinah that caused him to realise his own shortcomings and to react with deep humility.

We see this at the burning bush, where, following his first revelation, Moshe spent seven days refusing to accept the mantle of leadership. And we see it again here, where following the advent of the Shechinah into the Mishkon (see Maftir, Parshas Pikudei), Moshe declined to avail himself of the unique opportunity of entering the Ohel Mo'ed, until Hashem called him (not to speak of Moshe's decision to write the small 'aleph' - the two of which were based on the same reaction).


This is how Rabeinu Bachye puts it: 'Moshe fled from greatness, as it is written "I am not a man of words" (Sh'mos 4:10) and "Send whoever you want to send" (ibid. 4:13 [which the Ramban interprets to mean that anyone was better than him]). So, greatness ran after him, as it is written, "And he called to Moshe".

And how did Moshe react to that? By running away of course! (by writing a small 'aleph').



(continued from last year)
Part III
AThe Voluntary Offerings

The Sh'lomim (Peace-Offering)

18. What Constitutes a Sh'lomim?

With the sole exception of the Zivchei Shalmei Tzibur (the two lambs brought on Shavu'os), all peace-offerings were Shalmei Yachid (indivual offerings). The Sh'lomim, which could comprise any of the three species of animals that were permitted on the Mizbei'ach - a sheep, a goat or a bull - could be either a male or a female. It belonged to the category of Kodshim Kalim (the less holy group of Korbonos), and could therefore be shechted anywhere in the Azoroh, and could be eaten anywhere in Yerusholayim by anybody who was tohor.

An ordinary Sh'lomim could be eaten on the day that it was sacrificed, plus the day that followed it and the night in between. But if it was a thanks-offering (which will be discussed later) it had to be eaten by the midnight after it was sacrificed.

Apart from the Shalmei Nozir, and the Chagigah and the Shalmei Simchah brought on Yom Tov, all Shalmei Yochid were voluntary.


19. How The Sh'lomim Was Sacrificed

The owner would bring his animal, which, like all sacrifices, had to be without blemish, to the Azoroh, where he would lean his hand on it forcefully, and shecht it (since Shechitah did not require Kehunah). Like all Korbonos, it had to be brought in between the two Temidim (the Tamid shel Shachar and the Tamid shel Bein ha'Arbayim).

A Kohen would then receive the blood in a bowl and sprinkle it on the north-eastern and south-western corners of the Mizbei'ach. The Kohen then removed the various fat-pieces that were given to G-d as a gift: the fat that covers the stomach and all the fat that is attached to the stomach, the two kidneys together with the fat that is attached to them along the flanks and the lobe of the liver. All these were salted before being placed on the Mizbei'ach and burned. If the Sh'lomim was a sheep, then the fat-tail was added to the parts that were burned.


20. The Remainder of the Animal

The rest of the animal belonged to the owner, including the skin. He would then eat it anywhere in Yerusholayim - with his family, with the poor or with whomever he wished, before sunset of the following day.

The only parts of the Sh'lomim that were given to the Kohanim were the chest and the right calf, which the owner waved together with the Kohen - in all six directions - before presenting it to the Kohen as a gift (to be distributed at the end of the day among all the Kohanim who had served that day). The chest and the right calf had the din of a Sh'lomim, and the Kohen could share it with his family and his slaves (like T'rumah).

The Sh'lomim, like all korbonos that were eaten, could only be eaten after the blood had been sprinkled on the Mizbei'ach and the pieces were placed on the Ma'arochoh (the pile of wood on the Mizbei'ach on which the fat-pieces were burned).


21. The Age Limit of a Korban

No animal could be sacrificed during the first seven days after its birth and no animal could be sacrificed from the age of four (the end of the third year).

An animal from the flock (a sheep or a goat) was eligible to be brought as a sacrifice until its third birthday; one from the herd (a bull or a cow), until its fourth.


22. The Todoh (Thanks-offering)

If the Sh'lomim came in the form of a Todoh, then the owner would bring together with the animal, forty loaves: ten unleavened loaves mixed with oil, ten leavened wafers smeared with oil; ten loaves made with boiled flour and mixed with oil; and ten leavened loaves of bread. One of each of the four different species was given to the Kohen, and the rest were eaten by the owner.

The Todoh was brought by one of the four people who are obliged to thank Hashem: someone who was freed from prison; someone who recovered from an illness; someone who crossed the sea; and someone who traversed a desert.

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