Friday, September 9, 2011

Parshas Ki Setze: The hidden weapon against Amalek

The passuk says in this week’s sedrah;
לֹא יִהְיֶה לְךָ בְּכִיסְךָ אֶבֶן וָאָבֶן גְּדוֹלָה וּקְטַנָּה...זָכוֹר אֵת אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה לְךָ עֲמָלֵק בַּדֶּרֶךְ בְּצֵאתְכֶם מִמִּצְרָיִם.
“You should not have in your pocket a large weight and a small weight (a large weight to use when you buy and a small weight to use when you sell)… Remember what Amalek did to you on the way when you came out of Mitzraim.”

Rashi explains;

אם שקרת במדות ובמשקלות הוי דואג מגרוי האויב שנאמר (משלי יא) מאזני מרמה תועבת ה' וכתיב בתריה בא זדון ויבא קלון
“If you lied in weights and measures be worried about the attack of the enemy as the passuk says in Mishlei (11:1); ‘Deceitful scales are the abomination of Hashem’ and it is written after this; ‘The wanton sinner comes and with him comes disgrace.’”

·         Why do we need to be concerned about the attack of the enemy specifically if we cheat with weights and measures?

The passuk says about Amalek;
אֲשֶׁר קָרְךָ בַּדֶּרֶךְ..
“Who met you on the way...”

Rashi explains;
לשון קור וחום צננך והפשירך מרתיחתך
“…The passuk means that he cooled you down from your warmth.”

Rav Yitzchak Hutner explains that Amalek attacked the excitement of the benei yisrael to go and accept the Torah.

  • If Amalek attacks the excitement of the benei yisrael to accept the Torah, what is the antidote to Amalek? How can the benei yisrael make themselves continue to want to serve Hashem enthusiastically and stave off Amalek’s attack?
Rb Yitzchok Hutner z”l explains as follows;
The Medrash Tanchuma says in Parshas Vayera (Perek 5);
... א"ר יהודה בר שלום בקש משה שתהא המשנה אף היא בכתב, וצפה הקדוש ברוך הוא שאומות עתידין לתרגם את התורה ולהיות קוראין אותה יונית והן אומרין אנו הן של ישראל, א"ל הקב"ה למשה אכתב לו רובי תורתי וא"כ כמו זר נחשבו (הושע ח) וכ"כ למה מפני שהמשנה היא מסטורין של הקדוש ברוך הוא ואין הקב"ה מוסר מסטורין שלו אלא לצדיקים שנאמר סוד ה' ליראיו (תהלים כה)

”Rebbi Yehudah bar Shalom said, Moshe asked that Mishna should also be written, and Hakodosh Baruch Hu saw that the nations were going to translate the Torah and read it in Greek and they would say, ‘We are the benei yisrael!’.

 Hakodosh Baruch Hu said to Moshe, ‘If I write for them the majority of My Torah they (the benei yisrael) will be considered as strangers.’

Why is this? Because the Mishna is the secret of Hakodosh Baruch Hu and Hakodosh Baruch Hu only hands his secrets over to tzadikim as the passuk says ‘The secret of Hashem is to those who fear Him.’”

  • Why would the benei yisrael have been considered as strangers had the Greeks translated the Mishna? Even if the Greeks would have said that they were also the benei yisrael, then that just means that they would have been considered as the benei yisrael together with the actual benei yisrael. Why would it have meant that the benei yisrael themselves would have been considered as foreigners?
Rabbi Yitzchak Hutner z”l explains that in order for people to be close to each other there has to be something exclusive between them that they share and that they know about. The Torah shebaal peh was given as a keepsake from Hashem to the benei yisrael and it encapsulates the hidden closeness between Hashem and the benei yisrael. Because the Torah shebaal peh is only accessible to the benei yisrael, the benei yisrael are considered as the children of Hashem. If the Greeks would learn Torah as the benei yisrael do, then there would nothing special about the closeness between Hashem and the benei yisrael. In this case, the benei yisrael would be considered as zarim, strangers, because there would be no exclusive secret binding the benei yisrael to Hashem.

The passuk in Mishlei which Rashi quotes about the attack of Amalek being caused by cheating in weights and measures continues;
בָּא זָדוֹן וַיָּבֹא קָלוֹן וְאֶת צְנוּעִים חָכְמָה
“The wanton sinner comes and with him disgrace, but with the modest is wisdom.”

You see from the end of the passuk explains that the antidote to the attack of Amalek is the wisdom that comes with modesty. The Mishna, which is the hidden secret of Hashem and the hidden wisdom of the benei yisrael, is the antidote to Amalek becuase Amalek can only seek to hold back the benei yisrael from things that he can see. However, Amalek cannot attack something that is invisible to him. When the benei yisrael learn Torah shebaal peh, this strengthens the hidden relationship between Hashem and the benei yisrael and causes Amalek to be unable to attack them.

However, the hidden relationship amongst the benei yisrael themselves is a pre-requisite to the hidden relationship between Hashem and the benei yisrael and the existence of Torah shebaal peh. Therefore Rashi says;
אם שקרת במדות ובמשקלות הוי דואג מגרוי האויב
“If you lied in weights and measures be worried about the attack of the enemy…”

If the benei yisrael cheat each other in a hidden way, this uproots the hidden relationship between them and correspondingly it becomes impossible for them to maintain their special hidden relationship with Hashem. In this case there is nothing to stave off Amalek’s attacks anymore. On the other hand, if the benei yisrael are tzenuim and internalise the wisdom of the Torah, Amalek is unable to attack them and they are shielded by Hashem.

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