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Torah=MayimChayim Posted - 17 March 2008 17:42
Attached below is a dvar Torah I was zoche to compile this past Erev Shabbos, in the zechus of the eight kedoshim of Mercaz HaRav.

This past week, we began the reading of Sefer Vayikra, a sefer that is also known as “Toras Kohanim”—the sefer which instructs the Kohanim on how to serve in the Mishkan. However, the rules are not pertinent to Kohanim alone—rather, the message applies to each one of us, as members of Hashem’s chosen nation.

Rashi 1:1 tells us that the term “Vayikra” is a term of endearment, a term which was reserved especially for Moshe Rabbeinu. Meanwhile, when Hashem revealed Himself to prophets of other nations, the term used is “vayikar”—He “happened” upon them (“by chance,” so to speak).

This past week, we also read Parshas Zachor, the section in the Torah which requires us to remember to wipe out the nation of Amalek. Within this section, Rashi (Shemos 25:17) tells us that we should remember that Amalek “happened” upon us (i.e. “by chance,” so to speak). What is the significance of this particular detail in remembering to destroy Amalek?

Rav Moshe Feinstein, in his sefer Darash Moshe, explains as follows. If we were to look back to the context of Parshas Zachor, we would find that it is immediately juxtaposed with the prohibition against us cheating others in business dealings. Rashi thus explains that the connection between these two segments is that if we cheat each other in business dealings, then Amalek will attack. Meanwhile, Rashi in Parshas Beshalach (where we find the famous place where Amalek initially attacks Bnai Yisrael, soon after they have entered the desert) tells us that Amalek attacked because we failed to recognize Hashem’s presence. What is the connection between these two explanations?

Rav Moshe suggests that they actually give the same message. Whereas the original attack of Amalek signified a direct denial of Hashem’s presence when it was so apparent, a misdealing in business similarly signifies a denial of Hashem’s presence as well. Once a person decides to cheat in business to make more money, he is essentially “taking matters into his own hands” and denies that Hashem is truly in charge of His parnassah (livelihood). He forgets that Hashem alone is in control.

The next Rashi in Parshas Zachor (25:18) tells us that Amalek was the first to attack us as a unified nation, like one who “cools off a hot bath” so that others can enter. Similarly, Amalek was the first to “jump in” to fight the Jews, and thus afterwards the Jews were vulnerable to attacks from other nations as well. They were not afraid of our unique status—rather, they “took the plunge” so that they could bring us down.

Hashem doesn’t “happen” to take care of us. The danger in chas v’shalom believing that Hashem “happens” to care for each one of us in certain areas and not in others, signifies a lack of emunah. Thus, Amalek is able to attack, to remind us that we are unique, because Hashem chose us as His nation.

A later Rashi in our introductory verse to Vayikra (1:1) tells us as follows: Hashem’s voice did not extend past the Ohel Moed. Rashi notes that one might think that because His voice was low, it would not extend so far anyway. But remember that Hashem is not limited to physical boundaries, and His voice surely could extend past the Ohel Moed, had He desired as such. Yet, Hashem chose to have it extend no further. He reserved this special message for Moshe Rabbeinu alone.

Hashem issues a unique call to the Jews, one which is not heard by the other nations of the world. He “happens” upon other nations, but not upon klal Yisrael. The moment we forget that, Amalek “happens” upon us and reminds us that Hashem has a plan for us, that we are His treasure.

A later Rashi (1:1) tells us that there were “breaks” where Hashem would speak to Moshe Rabbeinu. The purpose of these breaks, Rashi tells us, was so that Moshe Rabbeinu would have time to think between sections of the Torah. Finally, Rashi adds an important point—if Moshe Rabbeinu required time to think, how much more so should we, who are on a much lower status.

The recent tragedy at Yeshivat Mercaz HaRav still remains fresh in many of our memories, as the week of shiva ends. And unfortunately, some of us may find it difficult to see Hashem in this picture. Thus we must “break” as well to pause and reflect, to allow ourselves to understand what the message here may be for each of us.

A recent Israeli television broadcast quoted Mercaz HaRav alumnus Chananel Elran, saying the following “You get used to thinking in a spiritual way, and it’s hard because it hurts. On the other hand you look from the perspective of eternality, where there is Someone watching, a Creator. Belief in Hashem makes you stronger. You don’t fall into the bereavement. You see how, in any situation, you can find the depth, the good things.”

While this interview is taking place, the observer hears the faint cry of a child in the background among a mass of people. Yet because he is caught in the torrent of his thoughts, Reb Elran seems oblivious to the cries, as he tells the audience of his strengthened emunah in Hashem Yisborach.

Yes, we cry, like the child. Unfortunately, those cries have been quite painful, especially over the past week or so. But the message of emunah, of believing that there is a Creator and Sustainer of the universe, rides above the cries. Remembering that Hashem never lets anything “happen” without His direct control over the matter, without the message that He loves us more than we can imagine.

In his essay entitled “Purim—Gilui HaKadosh Boruch Hu B’toch HaTeva,” (Purim—the revelation of Hashem within nature), Rav Shimshon Pincus tells us that the word “megillah” comes from the word “megaleh,” to reveal. Unlike other holidays, which impel us to rise above nature, Purim teaches us to find Hashem while remaining in nature. Purim teaches us that Hashem specifically hides Himself in nature so that we can find Him.

Later in the same essay, Rav Pincus quotes the well-known Gemara (Megillah 7b) which tells us that we must drink to the point where we can say “Baruch Haman u’Arur Mordechai” (“Blessed is Haman and cursed is Mordechai”). What does this mean? Haman symbolizes the peak of darkness, when nothing is clear and everything seems against us. But when we reach the point where we can say “Baruch Haman,” we bless the fact that even the darkest points come from Hashem Himself. And that is truly a blessing.

As I write this dvar Torah, we live in a world of darkness. It has been noted by a few contemporary Talmidei Chochomim that the Mercaz HaRav shooting took place on Rosh Chodesh, a time when the moon is eclipsed, symbolizing the dark times among klal Yisrael. But if we allow ourselves to think further, we remember that Purim occurs on the 14th (or 15th) of Adar, when the moon is at its fullest. Based on what we have just seen, Purim becomes a time not only of simchah for our salvation from Haman, but also for hope of the future.

Hope, because we reignite the faith of HaKadosh Boruch Hu’s love within us. Hope, because we know that He never lets anything “happen” to us without His approval. Hope, because we know that “approval” means that He knows what is best for us, and that He will never let us go. And hope, because we know that a time will come when everything will make sense to us as well, when our tears will be dried and our hearts filled with laughter.

Let us remember to have hope, and that Hashem loves us more than we can imagine. And with that, may we all merit to see the revealed version of that love with the coming of Moshiach Tzidkeinu, speedily in our days.

wannabe Posted - 19 March 2008 21:24
beautiful tmc. thanks so much for posting

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