The Inner Amalek
Volume 20, No. 20
11 Adar 5766
March 11, 2006
Kenneth and Lillian Schor
on the yahrzeit of his father
Dov Ber ben Akiva a"h
Daf Yomi (Bavli): Pesachim 53
Daf Yomi (Yerushalmi): Kilayim 20
This week, in addition to Parashat Tetzaveh, we read Parashat
Zachor, in which we are commanded (Devarim 25:19), "You shall
eradicate the memory of Amalek," the nation that launched an
unprovoked attack upon Bnei Yisrael immediately after the Exodus.
Elsewhere (in the Torah reading for Purim - Shmot 17:14), we read, "I
[Hashem] will surely eradicate the memory of Amalek." If Hashem is
our partner in this endeavor, asks R' Nachum Mordechai Friedman z"l
(the Chortkover Rebbe), why has it proven so difficult throughout
Jewish history to defeat Amalek and nations like it?
He explains: Our task and Hashem's task are different ones.
Hashem protects us from the physical Amalek, while it is our
responsibility to battle the Amalek, i.e., the evil, within ourselves.
Moreover, Hashem's ability to destroy the physical Amaleks of the
world is dependent upon our destroying our own Amaleks. This is the
meaning of the Gemara (Chullin 139a) which states: "Where is Haman
alluded to in the Torah? In the verse (Bereishit 3:11), `Hamin
ha'etz' / `From the tree from which I commanded that you not eat, did
you eat?'" When Adam committed the first sin in history, he made
possible the existence of Haman and Amalek. (Haman was a descendant
In truth, however, the difficulties of the exile make it hard for
us to battle our personal Amaleks. [Ed. Note: This dvar Torah was
said by the Chortkover Rebbe in Vienna, Austria in 1935.] We must
therefore look to the verse (Devarim 25:19), "And it will come to pass
when Hashem will let you rest from all your enemies around you, [then]
you shall eradicate the memory of Amalek." (Doresh Tov)
"Now you shall command Bnei Yisrael that they shall take for
you pure, chopped oil for illumination, to kindle the lamp
The Gemara teaches: "Pure, pressed oil is required for the
menorah, but it is not required for the menachot / meal offerings.
Thus, the first oil that comes from the olives is set aside for the
menorah, and the second oil is to be used for the menachot."
R' Yitzchak Karo z"l (1458-approx. 1520) observes: Usually, one
uses his best oil for cooking, and his inferior oil for lighting.
Here, we give the best entirely to G-d (in the menorah), and use the
second-best for ourselves (in the menachot, which are partially
consumed by man).
R' Karo also notes: The word "chopped" ("kaf-tav-yud-tav")
alludes to the first two Temples, the first of which stood for 410
("tav-yud") years, and the second for 420 ("tav-kaf,") years. Both of
these Temples were "chopped," i.e., destroyed. The third Temple,
however, will stand forever - "to kindle the lamp continually."
"They shall take the gold, the turquoise, purple, and scarlet
wool, and the linen." (28:5)
What is this verse teaching? asks R' Moshe Feinstein z"l (see
back page). Could the artisans have made the Mishkan and its
implements if they did not have the materials?
R' Feinstein explains: Hashem commanded that Betzalel and the
other artisans be the ones to make the Tabernacle because they were
filled with a "spirit of wisdom." But if not for our verse, others
from among Bnei Yisrael could have handed the materials to them. G-d
did not want this, so He commanded: "They shall take the gold . . ."
Why? R' Feinstein writes that Hashem wanted Betzalel to be
involved in the mundane aspects of building the Mishkan as a lesson
for future generations. Many people are willing to accept the
authority of their rabbi over "spiritual" matters, but they think that
a rabbi is entitled to no say in the "mundane" affairs of the shul.
(The examples that R' Feinstein gives are the design of, and fund-
raising for, synagogues.) That view, our pasuk teaches, is in error.
(Darash Moshe Vol. II)
"Aharon shall bring atonement upon [the altar's] horns once a
year, from the blood of the sin-offering of the atonements,
once a year, shall he bring atonement upon it for your
generations; it is holy of holies to Hashem." (30:10)
Why does the verse say twice that Aharon shall "bring atonement"
on the altar "once a year"? R' Shlomo Kluger z"l (rabbi of Brody,
Galicia; died 1869) explains:
There are two aspects of our sins. The first is personal; man is
responsible for his own sins. The second is communal; if one of us
sins, all of us bear some blame because "Kol Yisrael areivim zeh
b'zeh" / "All Jews are responsible for each other." Thus, the first
atonement is for the personal aspect of the sin, while the second
atonement is for the communal aspect. That is why the second phrase
refers to atonement "for your generations." When one person sins, the
entire generation needs an atonement.
(Kohelet Yaakov: Shekalim, Drush 14)
"Yesod Ve'shoresh Ha'avodah"
("The Foundation and Root of Divine Service")
This year, we are presenting excerpts from the work Yesod
Ve'shoresh Ha'avodah by R' Alexander Ziskind z"l (died 1794).
In Sha'ar Ha'mifkad, Chapter 3, the author writes about the
thoughts that one should have on Ta'anit Esther:
The reason for this fast on the 13th of Adar is because on this
day our ancestors rose to fight for their lives [against Haman's
allies] and they needed G-d's mercy. We do as they did in the days of
Mordechai and Esther by gathering to pray to and beseech Him.
In addition, it is written that this fast is an obligation for
all Jews because of the miracle that happened on this day--the day on
which Haman had planned to exterminate the Jews. When one experiences
a miracle, especially when his life is saved, he should fast and pray
every year on that day and give thanks to the One Whose Name Is
Blessed. It is appropriate for a person to awaken his heart at all
hours of this day to thank Hashem for our great salvation.
One should don his Shabbat garments before Minchah and recite the
Minchah prayer while wearing them.
R' Moshe Feinstein z"l
R' Moshe Feinstein, whose 20th yahrzeit will be observed on
Ta'anit Esther, stands out as the foremost halachic authority for
American Jewry in the 20th century. As the sh'ailot u'teshuvot /
responsa collected in his Igrot Moshe attest, his halachic opinion was
sought on virtually every significant question that arose as Torah-
observant Jews adapted to a new civilization in America and enjoyed
the benefits of rapid advances in technology. Among the subjects
addressed there are questions of Shabbat-observance, medicine (for
example, halachic issues raised by new procedures and surgeries),
business and legal matters, kashrut, and cultural trends.
R' Moshe Feinstein was born on 7 Adar 5655 / 1895 in Uzda, White
Russia, and was named after Moshe Rabbeinu, whose birthday he shared.
His father, R' David, was the rabbi of Uzda and a great-grandson of R'
Avraham, brother of the Vilna Gaon. R' Moshe's mother, Faya Rachel,
was a descendant of the author of the Mishnah commentary Tosfot Yom
Tov and of the Shelah Ha'kadosh. (Faya Rachel's sister was the
maternal grandmother of R' Joseph B. Soloveitchik.)
R' Moshe's first teacher was his father, who taught the boy all
of Tanach before he studied his first page of Gemara. R' Moshe's
family reports that throughout his life, R' Moshe studied two chapters
of Tanach every day. Young Moshe also was an expert chess player
until he realized that the game had ceased to relax him and instead
demanded his full strength and concentration. At that point he
considered the game to be harmful to his growth in Torah study, and he
gave it up.
When the future R' Moshe was 12 years old, he was sent to Slutsk
to study in the yeshiva of R' Isser Zalman Meltzer. R' Moshe's
primary teacher there was R' Pesach Pruskin. In 1908, R' Pruskin
decided to take his students and form his own yeshiva, and R' Meltzer
called him to a din Torah before R' David Feinstein. R' Feinstein
ruled that R' Pruskin was within his rights and, soon after, the new
yeshiva opened. The guest of honor at the dedication was none other
than R' Meltzer. One of the original students in the new academy was
13-year old Moshe Feinstein.
When World War I broke out, R' Moshe sought the blessing of the
Chafetz Chaim that he be spared from the draft. The elder sage told
the young rabbi, "I've heard of you." The Chafetz Chaim then told
him, "We learn in Pirkei Avot that anyone who accepts the yoke of
Torah is spared from the yoke of the king." Soon after, R' Moshe
learned that his call-up had been delayed for six months. As further
security, R' Moshe accepted his first rabbinic position at that time,
in his birthplace Uzda.
-- to be continued next week --
Copyright © 2006 by Shlomo Katz
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