Friday, February 23, 2018

Remembering Amalek

by HaRav Eliezer Melamed
Rosh HaYeshiva, Har Bracha

The Three Mitzvot Concerning the Obliteration of Amalek

Three mitzvot in the Torah relate to Amalek. The first is a positive commandment to remember what Amalek did to us, as it says, Remember what Amalek did to you on the way when you were leaving Egypt(Devarim 25:17). The second is a negative commandment not to forget what Amalek did to us, as it says, Do not forget (ibid. 25:19). The third is a positive commandment to eradicate Amalek’s offspring from the world, as it says, It shall be that when the Lord your God gives you rest from all your enemies around, in the Land that the Lord your God gives you as an inheritance to possess it, you shall obliterate the remembrance of Amalek from under the heavens (ibid.).

The Amalekite people symbolize the root of evil in the world, and they introduced Jew-hatred to mankind. The Jewish people face a difficult struggle in this world. The idealistic, faith-based message that HaShem destined to Israel incites all the evildoers of the world to go out and fight against us. No other nation has been persecuted as much as we have been: from the destruction of the Temple through the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Chmielnicki Uprising of 1648-49, culminating in the horrific Holocaust that ravaged our nation. Amalek started it all.

Right after we left Egypt, even before we had a chance to coalesce and organize ourselves, Amalek came and attacked us, without any provocation or reason. And who did he attack? Slaves who were going free after an extended period of servitude. Amalek is the nation that embodies hatred of Israel, and consequently, hatred of Torah and the godly concept of universal rectification through kindness and truth. This is why the verse says, For the hand [of God] is on the throne (כס) of God (י-ה), [saying] the Lord will [wage] war against Amalek from generation to generation (Shemot 17:16). Rashi comments, “The Holy One, blessed be He, swore that His name (י-ה-ו-ה) and His throne (כסא) will be incomplete until the name of Amalek is utterly obliterated.”

Jews are naturally kind and compassionate, and many mitzvot in the Torah cultivate such traits within us. We would, therefore, be inclined to forgive Amalek [for his misdeeds], but the Torah commands us to remember what he did and obliterate him. This way, we will remember that there is evil in the world, against which we must fight to the bitter end, without compromise. Only then will we be able to perfect the world.

The Mitzvah to Wipe Out Amalek

The mitzvah to destroy Amalek is mainly incumbent upon Klal Yisrael (the Jewish nation as a whole). Thus, our Sages taught that the Jews were commanded to fulfill three mitzvoth upon entering the Land of Israel: first, to appoint a king over them; afterwards, to wipe out the seed of Amalek; and then, to build the Holy Temple (Sanhedrin 20b).

Indeed, after the Jews merged together in their Land, they appointed King Shaul, and after his kingdom stabilized, the prophet Shmuel approached Shaul and said to him, The Lord sent me to anoint you as king over His people, over Israel; therefore, hear now the voice of the Lord’s words. So says the Lord of Hosts, “I have remembered what Amalek did to Israel, how he set [an ambush] against him on the way, as he [Israel] went up from Egypt. Now go and smite Amalek and destroy everything he has; have no mercy on him; kill both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and donkey”(I Shmuel 15:1-3).

However, King Shaul did not fulfill the mitzvah properly, taking pity on Agag, King of Amalek, and the best of the sheep and cattle. As a result, HaShem took the kingdom away from him and gave it to David. Nevertheless, the damage was already done, and it was devastating. Because of Shaul’s weakness and compassion, many Amalekites survived, and they continued harassing Israel. A few years later, a band of Amalekites attacked Tziklag, where the families of David and his men lived, burning down the city and taking all the women and children captive. With God’s help, David and his men managed to rescue the captives and vanquish the marauders. But since David was not yet king and did not have the army of Israel at his disposal, he was unable to eradicate them. Four hundred youths rode on camels and escaped (I Shmuel 30). Apparently, other groups of Amalekites survived elsewhere, but despite his efforts David was unable to battle and destroy them all, even after he became king, because they were spread out far and wide. Chazal also tell us that because Shaul procrastinated in killing Agag, Agag’s seed was preserved – [he impregnated a woman from his prison cell before being killed] – eventually resulting in the birth of Haman the Aggagite, who attempted to wipe out the Jewish people (Megillah13a).

Even though the mitzvah to eradicate Amalek is mainly incumbent upon the community, every individual Jew is commanded to fulfill it, as well. Therefore, if a Jew meets an Amalekite, and has the ability to kill him, but refrains from doing so, he has neglected this mitzvah (Sefer HaChinuch 604). The descendants of Amalek are currently unknown, but if one would ascertain that a particular person is an Amalekite, who follows their ways, it would be a mitzvah to kill him.

Parashat Zachor

Our Sages instituted the reading of Parashat Zachor once a year in order to fulfill the biblical commandments to remember and not forget the evil deeds of Amalek. One is considered to have forgotten about Amalek only if a year goes by without remembering him. Therefore, we discharge our obligation by mentioning the matter once a year. We read Zachor on the Sabbath before Purim in order to juxtapose the remembering of Amalek to the destruction of his descendent, Haman.

According to biblical law, one must communicate this remembrance verbally. There is no need, however, for every individual to read Parashat Zachor from a Torah scroll; rather, everyone fulfills the mitzvah by hearing the reader chant the verses from the Torah.

According to some of the greatest Rishonim, the Torah commands us to read Parashat Zachor from the Torah scroll itself [as opposed to a printed Chumash]. Therefore, it is advisable to read it from an exceptional Torah scroll, and the reader must try to read it as meticulously as possible.

Preferably, everyone should hear Zachor read according to the melody and pronunciation to which his family is accustomed. From a halachic standpoint, however, members of all the communities may discharge their obligation by hearing it read according to any version accepted among the Jewish people, whether it be Sefardic, Ashkenazic, or Yemenite.

One who finds himself in a place where there is no minyan (a quorum of ten) should read Zachor from a Torah scroll without a minyan. And if no Torah scroll is available, he should read it from a Chumash or a Siddur.

Mitzvot require intent; therefore, one must have intention to fulfill the mitzvah of remembering Amalek’s deeds when reading or hearing Parashat Zachor. It is a good practice for the gabbai (synagogue attendant) or reader to announce this before commencing the reading.

Are Women Obligated to Hear Parashat Zachor?

According to most poskim (Jewish law arbiters), women are exempt from the mitzvah of remembering Amalek, because this mitzvah is connected to the mitzvah of annihilating Amalek, and since women are not commanded to wage war, they need not remember what Amalek did to us (Sefer HaChinuch 603). Others claim that the mitzvah to wage war applies to women, as well, for they are required to assist the soldiers. Therefore, they, too, are obligated to remember Amalek. And even though the Sages established a fixed time for reading Parashat Zachor – the Sabbath before Purim – it has no time limit according to Torah law. Thus, it is a mitzvah independent of time, and women are obligated to perform it (Minchat Chinuch, ibid.).

Practically speaking, women are exempt from hearing Parashat Zachor. Ideally (le’chatchilah), however, women should hear the reading, and many are accustomed to doing so. A woman who finds it difficult to attend the services, but nevertheless wants to fulfill the mitzvah, should read the parashah herself from a Chumash. After all, many authorities hold that this fulfills the biblical requirement to remember Amalek. If there is a class for women in the synagogue, a man may take out a Torah scroll and read Zachorfor them. Even though no minyan is present, it is commendable for them to hear the parashah from a kosher Torah scroll.

Can an Amalekite Save Himself or Convert to Judaism?

Even though the Torah commands us to wipe out the descendants of Amalek, if one of them agrees to keep the seven Noachide laws, he no longer has the status of an Amalekite, and it is forbidden to kill him. The seven Noachide laws are as follows: the prohibitions against idolatry, adultery, murder, theft, blasphemy, and eating the limbs of a live animal; and the obligation to set up a court system that will adjudicate all interpersonal disputes justly.

Moreover, even if the Amalekites do not volunteer to keep the seven Noachide laws, we are commanded to offer them peace before going to war with them. That is, we offer them the opportunity to adopt the seven Noachide laws and agree to be subservient to the Jewish people, including the payment of tributes. If they accept these conditions of peace, we do not wage war against them. If they refuse, however, we fight them to the finish. Even if they reconsider afterwards and beg for peace, we do not accept them, for once the war has begun we fight them until they are annihilated (Rambam, Hilchot Melachim 6:1-4, with Kesef Mishnah).

The poskim dispute whether or not we accept an Amalekite who wants to convert to Judaism. The Rambam (Hilchot Issurei Bi’ah 12:17) holds that he may convert. Accordingly, Chazal state that descendants of Haman, himself a descendant of Amalek, taught Torah in B’nei Brak (Gittin 57b, Sanhedrin 96b). Clearly, our forebears accepted converts from Amalek.

Others assert that we do not accept Amalekite converts. This is Rabbi Eliezer’s opinion in the Mechilta (end of BeShalach). He relates that HaShem swore by His glorious throne that an Amalekite who comes to convert will not be accepted. And what about Chazal‘s statement that Haman’s descendants taught Torah in B’nei Brak? We must say that this happened by mistake: a beit din (rabbinic court) converted someone without knowing that he was from Amalek. Alternatively, an Amalekite from the wicked Haman’s lineage raped a Jewish woman, and those Torah teachers from B’nei Brak descended from her son, who was considered a Jew (Resisei Laylah 38:5).

The Fast of Esther

All Jews have a custom, originating in the Gaonic period, to fast on the thirteenth of Adar in commemoration of the fasts that Esther observed before approaching King Achashveirosh to annul the decree (Esther 4:16) and the fast that the Jews observed on the thirteenth of Adar of that year. The wicked Haman decreed that all Jews – young and old, men, women, and children – be destroyed, killed, annihilated, and plundered on the thirteenth of Adar. Thanks to the Purim miracle, the hanging of Haman, and the rise of Mordechai and Esther, King Achashveirosh issued a second letter allowing the Jews to defend themselves and kill their enemies on that same day. The original decree, however, was not rescinded, because any decree written and signed by the king could not be annulled. Therefore, the enemies of Israel also had permission to kill the Jews. In other words, the kingdom established the thirteenth of Adar as the day on which the anti-Semites could destroy the Jews, but the Jews were permitted to fight back. And even though Mordechai was the king’s viceroy, the Jews were still in grave danger and in need of divine mercy, to help them overcome and kill their enemies. Therefore, the Jews who could not fight stirred themselves to repentance and fasted that day, as is Israel’s practice in times of trouble. And there is no greater penitence than that achieved by way of fasting, which purifies man’s material side and returns his spirituality to its natural, central place.

In commemoration of this fast, the Jewish people fast on the thirteenth of Adar every year. We still have enemies who want to destroy us and we still need to fast and repent every year anew.

In general, the laws of Ta’anit Esther (the Fast of Esther) are more lenient than those of the other minor fasts, because the other fasts were instituted by the Rabbis, while the Fast of Esther was established in consideration of Jewish custom. In practice, though, there is almost no difference between them.

The laws regarding the prayers and Torah-reading on Ta’anit Esther, for both Shacharit and Minchah, are the same as those of all the minor fasts. The only difference is that we omit Tachanun and Avinu Malkeinu from Minchah (according to Ashkenazim, who usually say Avinu Malkeinu on fast days in both Shacharit and Minchah), seeing that it is the day before Purim (M.B. 131:33). When the thirteenth of Adar coincides with Shabbat, we fast on the Thursday before, and since the fast is not on the eve of Purim, we pray Minchah as on all other fasts.

In Commemoration of the Half-Shekel

People customarily give charity in the month of Adar in commemoration of the half-shekel that the Jews used to donate to the Temple, in Adar, for the purpose of buying communal offerings. The best time to give this charity is immediately before Minchah on Ta’anit Esther, so that the charity can combine with the fast and achieve atonement (M.B.694:4, K.H.C. 25).

Some have a custom to give a coin that equals half of the local currency [e.g., half a dollar, half a pound, etc.], while others give three such coins, corresponding to the three times it says terumah (donation) in Parashat Shekalim (Rema 694:1). The common coin in Israel today is the shekel, so, according to this custom, one should donate three half-shekel coins.

Some are accustomed to giving the equivalent of the original half-shekel, which is approximately ten grams of pure silver (K.H.C. 694:20). All of the customs are valid, and the more charity one gives the more blessing he receives.

Some hold that this custom applies only to men above the age of twenty, because they were obligated in this mitzvah in Temple times (Rema). Others say that boys above the age of thirteen must uphold this custom, as well (Tosafot Yom Tov). A third opinion believes that one should give a donation in commemoration of the half-shekel for young children, too (Eliyah Rabbah, M.B. 694:5). Still others maintain that even women should give the half-shekel donation (K.H.C. 694:27). This is the most prevalent custom today, to donate at least one half-shekel for every member of the house, even an unborn fetus.

One should not use ma’aser kesafim money [one-tenth of one’s earnings set aside for charity] for this donation, for one is not allowed to fulfill an obligatory mitzvah or custom using ma’aser kesafim funds. However, one who has always performed the half-shekel commemoration according to the most stringent view and is now pressed for funds, making it difficult to uphold his custom without relying on ma’aser kesafim, may perform the mitzvah with his own money, according to the more lenient opinion – that is, a half-shekel per male above the age of twenty – and make up the rest with ma’aser kesafim money.

This article is taken from one of Rabbi Melamed’s books on Jewish law and thought, “Peninei Halakha: Z’manim”, which can be found online for free, along with all his books in the “Peninei Halakha” series in Hebrew, and a number of books already translated into French, Russian, Spanish, and English, at: In addition, there is a Q&A site at: We hope, please God, to complete the translations as soon as possible. Anyone who would like to take part in this monumental project can contribute at:

Israel's King is also the Servant of G-d

by Moshe Feiglin

“And I will dwell in the midst of the Children of Israel and I will be their G-d.” (From this week’s Torah portion, T’ztaveh, Exodus 29:45)

“And I will dwell in the midst of the Children of Israel.” The Holy Temple is the necessary tool for the coronation of the Creator as King of the World. A king is not a king without a nation, a land, a capital and a royal palace. The nations of the world coronate kings of flesh and blood, enslave themselves to humans and build them glorious palaces. But the King of Israel is not a mere human. Israel testifies to the Kingdom of G-d. The Holy Temple in Jerusalem is His royal palace.

This is the way to achieve liberty for the Nation of Israel and for the world. One person is not slave to another, but we are all servants of G-d. The first of those servants is the human king of Israel whose entire purpose is to fulfill the destiny of the Nation of Israel: to perfect the world in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Moshe Feiglin on Army Radio: Open the Media and Remedy Corruption

Do you think that Netanyahu has to go?

I think that he should have gone in 1996, when he hugged Arafat and bound us all to the Oslo Accords. He has to go for strategic reasons. That is why I joined the Likud, that is why I ran against him in the Likud and that is why, when I understood that it would not help to be in the Likud, I left. But something bothers me very much. If Netanyahu’s name were Shimon Peres or Ehud Barak, none of these affairs would ever have been publicized or investigated. This is not about corruption. It’s about politics. I am not making light of the accusations. As an MK, I fought against real corruption and if these accusations about Netanyahu are true, it is very serious. But we have to put everything in its proper perspective. Regarding the Walla news site accusations: Netanyahu is being accused of paying out taxpayer money in order to change the political leaning of a particular news site. Hasn’t all the public broadcast had a particular political leaning for the past sixty or seventy years? How much did that cost? Let us look at it from a different angle. Until not long ago, Shelly Yehimovitz was the head of the Opposition. How did she achieve that status? She had the public broadcast microphone – not of the Walla news site, but of the most popular radio show in Israel – for years. That was paid for by the taxpayers. All that Netanyahu did here – and it is not proper – is to try to steal the horses back. Actually, Netanyahu is being accused of doing what the Left has been doing for the past seventy years.

Maybe that is the problem? Instead of changing the method, he simply chose to preserve the method and to take the reins into his own hands.

I totally agree with you. What Netanyahu really should have done was to completely detach the State from the media. For example, to close the Army Radio station. Since when does the army broadcast to citizens? Any citizen who wants to broadcast should be able to pay for a license – not for a franchise, but for a frequency – and legally broadcast. If Netanyahu had done that, he would have had tens of radio and television stations broadcasting with a more rightist affinity, because most of the public is rightist. Then he would not have had to give money to Walla. Instead, he thought that he would simply do what the Left has been doing for years. He forgot, however, that what is acceptable behavior for the Left – is intolerable for the Right. We have a recording from our own station of an interview with special advisor to the police Lior Horev in January 2017, in which he says that before the elections, there was message-coordination between the Labor and Yesh Atid parties and Israel’s popular Yediot Aharonot newspaper. That is taped evidence of apparent corruption. And there are many more examples. There is selective enforcement taking place here against Netanyahu.

Please note that all the corruption that Netanyahu is suspected of has to do with the fact that the State interferes in our lives. It is part of the media, interferes in the economy, interferes in religion and state issues, in almost every area of our lives. The State should only be responsible for security – internal and external – and justice. That is all. If anybody can broadcast, there is no need to bribe particular media outlets to publicize certain information. There is another major point that nobody is talking about. What with all the accusations against Netanyahu, have you noticed that he did not take any money? No envelopes with money like Olmert and others. What he did try to do repeatedly was to use the same old rotten system to his advantage. That is bad and if he is guilty of that, he must go. But we must keep things in perspective and first and foremost, remove the State from our lives.

It is ironic that what he did not invest time and effort into accomplishing will ultimately topple him.

Let it topple him. Let him go home over open media for all. I’d like to add one more comment. The fact that the public broadcast has to include your one rightist broadcasting slot just proves that all the rest is leftist.

Not only do they have one rightist slot, but they are constantly threatening to close it….

Moshe Feiglin on Moreshet Radio: End Corruption by Removing Government Interference

Here at Reshet Moreshet we are going back and forth between talking about the investigations against PM Netanyahu and the security situation. Good morning to Moshe Feiglin. We would like to speak to you about the investigations against the Prime Minister.

Good morning. Actually, I can link between the two topics.

Great, go right ahead.

The link is that if there is a reason why Netanyahu has to go home, it is because of Israel’s security situation. Certainly not because of the cigars and the champagne. Netanyahu has to go for strategic reasons. The Left’s manhunt after him smells like a political putsch.

Do you think that Netanyahu has to go home because of the escalation in Gaza?

Netanyahu was elected in 1996 on the waves of the fallout from the Oslo Accords. The only thing to which he was committed strategically was to nullify the catastrophe called the Oslo Accords. When he did not do that, he threw all of us down the slope of the Two State Solution process, to which Israel is enslaved until today. Let us take the example of the Protective Edge Campaign. The IDF was not able to triumph over a terror organization that was shooting rockets at Tel Aviv for over a month and a half. That fiasco is Netanyahu’s. There are more examples. The release of Gilad Shalit, the metal detectors on the Temple Mount and more. They all stem from the fact that twenty years ago, Netanyahu made a strategic decision to conduct Israeli policy from within the Oslo Accords instead of nullifying them. 

Do you think that the police, headed by a religious Jew, have really adopted the goal of bringing down the rightist government?

No, I do not suspect the Police Chief. I think that the Left has activated all of its heavy guns -its seats of power - which are not elected by the public. With its power in the media and in the Attorney General’s staff, the Left is able to create public opinion and a national agenda. Without that, I do not think these investigations would have ever gotten off the ground.

But Former PM Olmert has already been jailed, as has former Finance Minister (Labor party) Hirschson. So how can you claim that these investigations are political?

That is exactly the point. All the leftist leaders were guilty of graft and corruption much more serious than the borderline cases of which Netanyahu is being accused. There is definitely a feel of political agenda behind the champagne and cigars accusations. If these accusations were really motivated by an anti-corruption agenda, Former PM Ehud Barak would have been behind bars long ago for serious corruption. We would also have seen Former PM Sharon behind bars – despite the fact that he suddenly decided to drive the Jews out of Gush Katif.

Ehud Barak is old news…

Old news? Just a few weeks ago, a former PM testified that he received a kickback from every weapons deal that Israel concluded during his term.

But that happened quite a few years ago. It is no longer relevant to the public.

Look at what is happening here. Millions of dollars in graft that Olmert said went to Ehud Barak’s Swiss bank account – which is much more than just monetary corruption, but likely includes deals that endangered Israel – we do not know what the considerations were for choosing Israel’s arsenal – nobody talks about that. How many headlines have you seen about that? But the whole country is topsy-turvy over cigars and champagne. Clearly there is a political agenda at work here.

Now I want to ask you a question. Have you ever gotten an earlier medical appointment, for example, because you knew the right person in the office? If so, you are guilty of corruption and you can be investigated just like Netanyahu. This is not to say that Netanyahu’s actions were fine. But there is a huge difference between corruption in the millions of dollars, which has never been investigated, and the accusations against Netanyahu. It is all politics.

If you were prime minister, how would you prevent the law enforcement agencies from operating for a particular political agenda?

First of all, I fought against corruption when I was a Knesset Member and paid a price for that. The police are not the problem. The solution is to get the State out of the lives of the private citizens. First of all, significantly downsize the government from 30 ministers to 11. Simplify the process of housing construction, allow parents to send their children to the schools of their choice, eliminate the dependence of the citizen on bureaucracy.

The government also has to be out of the media. Now Netanyahu is being accused of trying to influence one of the major news channels to report on him positively. It is no secret that the public broadcast in Israel leans to the Left. Former broadcaster and current Labor MK Shelly Yehimovitz admitted that. In other words, for tens of years, billions in taxpayer shekels have been channeled to the agenda of one political approach. All that Netanyahu apparently did was to try to steal one of the horses back to his side.

The solution to the one-sided broadcasting is not to enlist the same method for the good of the Right, but rather to stop working that way. Eliminate the public broadcasting system and broadcasting franchises. People should be able to take out a license and broadcast as they please.

Corruption is the result of government interference in the lives of its citizens. If government would be removed from our daily lives, the corruption would not have a breeding ground.

Enough Hypocrisy

by Moshe Feiglin

If somebody is already going to investigate the suspicion that PM Netanyahu used taxpayer money to buy positive coverage on Israel’s Walla internet news channel, maybe we can widen the investigation. Perhaps we can also examine how it is that Israel’s Channel 2 Radio and Television’s popular broadcasters later became the heads of the Opposition parties – Shelly Yehimovitz of Labor and Yair Lapid of Yesh Atid.

I must re-emphasize: I am not interested in defending Netanyahu. In my eyes, the man is an ongoing strategic danger to Israel – starting with his hug for Arafat, to his support of the Disengagement, the Shalit deal, and on to shifting responsibility for the Iranian threat to Obama, the wholesale release of terrorists, the Marmara, Amona, the metal detectors on the Temple Mount, the so-far successful attempt to prevent the transfer of the US embassy to Jerusalem and much more. I think that it is time for Netanyahu to leave office.

But I am sick of the hypocrisy. Netanyahu has to go home because he is carrying out the policies of the Left – not because he is trying to out-left them.

Righteous Poles the Exception

by Moshe Feiglin

I don’t understand why we don’t remind Poland of the pogroms after the war. The tens of Jews who were slaughtered in Kielce in 1946. And there were other slaughters, as well. A Jew who returned to Poland after his liberation from the concentration camps was taking his life into his hands. Not because of the Russians. Because of the Poles.

True, there were righteous Poles who saved Jews. And it is true that the organized and industrialized murder of the Jews was perpetrated by the Germans, may their names be erased. But the righteous Poles were the exception. The general Polish public were the hyenas waiting for the spoils. They were and they remain.

Etymology of the Ruby

by Rabbi Ben-Tzion Spitz

I would rather be adorned by beauty of character than jewels. Jewels are the gift of fortune, while character comes from within.

Without a doubt the most impressive of the High Priest’s vestments was the Breastplate (the Choshen) containing twelve different stones, one for each Tribe of Israel, with their names engraved on each stone.

Rabbeinu Bechaye on Exodus 28:10 (Tetzaveh) goes into a quite long and detailed description of each stone and how each stone has a deep and direct connection to the history and inner characteristics of each Tribe.

We independently know that the Tribe of Ruben may have been associated with the ruby. What was perhaps most surprising was to discover Rabbeinu Bechaye’s claim that the source of the name “ruby” is none other than “Ruben.” He implies that the connection between the tribes and their stones are profound.

Following is a list of the tribes, the original name of the stone, an opinion as to a possible modern equivalent (there is much dispute as to what the ancient stone names represent in modern times) as well as Rabbeinu Bechaye’s opinion as to the benefits associated with the stone:

1. Ruben: Rubin (Ruby). Helps childbirth.
2. Simon: Pitda (Chrysolite). Cools body.
3. Levi: Bareket (Onyx). Enlightenment.
4. Judah: Nofech (Malachite). Overpower enemies.
5. Yissachar: Sapir (Lapis-Lazuli). Helps eyesight, healing.
6. Zevulun: Yahalom (Zircon). Helps sleep.
7. Dan: Leshem (Jacinth).
8. Naftali: Shvo (Agate). Helps riding.
9. Gad: Achlamah (Amethyst). Bravery. 
10. Asher: Tarshish (Topaz). Helps digestion.
11. Joseph: Shoham (Beryl). Perceived well by all.
12. Benjamin: Yashpeh (Jasper). Helps blood-clotting.

While attributing different properties and powers to a variety of stones is common to many ancient cultures (and some New Age groups), what is interesting is Rabbeinu’s Bechaye’s claim that in order for the power of these stones to be effective, the user must be ritually pure. He warns that if a person is not ritually clean, the stones will be either ineffective, or even harmful. The topic of ritual purity is quite involved with a long list of laws and details, but at the simplest level today it involves immersion in a ritual bath (Mikveh) within the guidelines of Jewish law. He explains that the stones interact based on a person’s spiritual level, where purity or impurity plays an important role.

So while there may be some truth and validity to the idea of the power of particular stones, one’s character and spiritual life are of greater significance. Artifacts and even religious items are always secondary to the person and the spirit. Such is always the case.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Rabbi Ari Kahn on Parashat Tetzaveh: No Embarrassment

The Yishai Fleisher Show: Eating Haman's Ear

The High Priest clothes give glory to God, while Mordechai's beautiful garments laud the victory of Israel over Amalek. Rabbi Mike Feuer joins Rabbi Yishai to get pre-Purim holy drunk on Torah and to figure out the future of AIPAC as well. Then, Malkah Fleisher joins the show to talk about why Jews eat the sweetened ears of their enemies.

Vote of confidence in Israel’s brainpower

by Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger

1. Intel has announced a $4.5BN-$5BN expansion of its southern Israel plant (in Kiryat Gat) – which is one of the world’s most advanced chip manufacturing facilities – for the next three years, following a 2016-2017 $6BN upgrade of the same facility. The two rounds of investment are, probably, related to Intel’s March, 2017 $15.3BN acquisition of Mobileye, the Jerusalem-based developer of advanced vision and autonomous-driving assistance systems. Intel acquired eight Israeli companies.

Intel employs, in Israel, 11,000 persons (in addition to Mobileye’s 1,000 employees) in three research & development centers and one manufacturing plant, which exported $3.7BN in 2017 (before the current expansion). Since 1974, when Intel launched its Israeli operations, it invested $35BN in Israel, and exported $50BN from Israel.

Since 1998, “Intel Capital” has invested in 18 Israeli startups.

During the last decade, Intel’s total purchase of Israeli goods and services was $10BN (Globes Business Daily, February 19, 2018).

2. Israel has attracted over 300 global high tech companies due to its brain-power, which has been enhanced by a “do-or-die” state of mind - militarily, economically, educationally, agriculturally, irrigation-wise and balance of trade-wise, yielding game-changing, ground-breaking solutions and technologies.

3. Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway expressed confidence in Israel’s (ailing-recovering) Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, buying 1.8% of its stock for $358MN, which surged Teva’s share price 8.64% on the NYSE (Globes, Feb. 15).

4. According to Bloomberg (Feb. 19), a 10 year, $15BN deal to export Israeli natural gas to Egypt is about to be concluded between Noble Energy and Delek Drilling, the exporters, and Dolphinus Holdings, the importer, enhancing the Egypt-Israel cooperation, and advancing Egypt’s ambition to become a regional energy hub. It follows the 2016, 15 year $10BN natural gas agreement with Jordan.

5. The February 9 issue of the Economist Intelligence Unit reported that Israeli startup companies had a record year in 2017, raising $5.2BN, 9% more than 2016, compared with $1.8BN in 2012 and $3.6BN in 2013. Charles and David Koch (Industries) led a $150MN round of private placement in Israel’s Insightec (medical equipment), investing $100MN (Globes, Feb. 5). Israel’s Sol Gel dermatology (non-antibiotic treatment of acne) and UroGen raised $75MN and $60MN, respectively, on NASDAQ (Globes, Feb. 2). Israel’s Tyto Care held a round of private placement, totaling $21MN, led by China’s Ping An Global Voyager Fund (Globes, January 30).

6. According to the 2018 OECD ranking of the 10 most educated countries – as far as adults completing tertiary education in the form of a 2-year degree, 4-year-degree of vocational program – Israel is the 3rd ranking country (49.9%), following Canada (56.27%) and Japan (50.50%), ahead of South Korea, Britain, the USA (45.67%), Australia, Finland, Norway and Luxembourg.

7. Standard & Poor international credit rating agency has reaffirmed Israel’s A+ credit rating and economic outlook, highlighting Israel’s sustained reduction of its debt-to-gross domestic product ratio (60%) and the estimated 3.1% economic growth during 2018-2021 (Israel Hayom, February 4). According to the Feb. 5 issue of the Economist Intelligence Unit, Israel’s unemployment is 4.2%, a multi-decade low.

8. Israel’s $10BN Amdox (25,000 employees, 85 countries) acquired the L.A.-based Vubiquity for $224MN (Globes, February 1). Israel’s geothermal and recovered energy power plants giant, Ormat, acquired the Idaho-based, renewable energy US Geothermal for $110MN (Globes, January 26).

Gun Wars

by Rabbi Steven Pruzansky

The American gun debate has been a dialogue of the deaf for decades and no end is in sight. That is for the simple reason that the two sides each reflect incompatible and irreconcilable views on the matter. To simplify a bit, when one side feels that society would be safer with more guns and the other side feels society would be safer with fewer or no guns, there is not much middle ground that can bridge the differences. One side blames the gun for the crime (as if guns fire themselves) and the other side blames the perpetrator for the crime (as if he could kill people if he didn't have a gun). And so horrendous tragedies such as last week’s school massacre in Florida will continue to occur, rachmana litzlan.

Each side retreats to its arguments whenever a horrendous school shooting occurs. One side blames the easy access to guns as so obvious that it brooks no discussion. The other side blames the failure to diagnose and treat mental illness or at least intervene and curb the anger and delusions of the disaffected. There are so many layers to the problem that it becomes difficult even to discuss them or analyze them dispassionately. No one is in favor of providing weapons to the mentally ill; by the same token, we pride ourselves in not stigmatizing mental illness, so how can their rights be restricted? And by whom shall they be restricted? Add to this the collapse of the American family since the moral breakdown of the 1960’s – the plethora of fatherless children, the aimlessness of many youth, the broken homes and the lack of any moral guidance from authority figures (schools, churches, etc.) and one big problem looms. And add to that the modern drug of “fame” – the yearning to be noticed, to matter, to be significant in the eyes of society – as if that has any enduring value. There are too many losers who act in anti-social ways to get attention; a small percentage of them will turn violent.

It has reached a point where the arguments no longer address the issue at hand and the proposals made by the politicians satisfy a core constituency but would not solve the problem at all. Trying to prevent a school shooting by tightening the terrorist watch list is a non sequitur. Blaming the NRA and their campaign contributions for the presence of gun violence ignores the reality of the Second Amendment and presupposes that politicians would be amenable to restricting gun ownership if only they had the will. But such is false; most politicians – and most Americans – support gun ownership because they believe in the right of self-defense, itself a cardinal Torah principle: “He who comes to slay you, rise up and slay him first” (Masechet Yoma 85b). There is no virtue to allowing yourself to be killed by a criminal.

Defending the Constitution is seemingly as American as apple pie but its sundry clauses – especially in the Bill of Rights – always vex one group or another and is often under assault by government. Just in the last few years, the First Amendment’s “free exercise” of religion clause was assaulted by a variety of Obama administration measures, particularly regarding the provision of health care; many perceive the Trump’s administration’s hostility and verbal assaults on the media as infringing on freedom of the press; and all of us are subjected, and not always legally, to intrusive surveillance, searches and occasionally seizures with little redress, despite the Fourth Amendment. The Seventh Amendment’s right to a trial by jury sounds great but has not always served the cause of truth and justice.

For better or worse, guns are ingrained in American culture and it is foolhardy to think that the confiscation of 300,000,000 firearms (count ‘em) is feasible even if it were sensible. Some people, naturally horrified by school shootings and the deaths of innocent children, can rail against the prevalence of guns in society but usually will be unaware of the positive roles guns play in the society. The NRA magazine features a monthly column entitled “The Armed Citizen,” in which there are at least a dozen accounts drawn from local media of citizens who saved their own lives (and those of others) by employing a firearm against a hostile entity – intruder, burglar, assailant, rapist, etc. I sense that these accounts weigh more heavily on people’s minds that even the random shootings that, gun control advocates think, should shock people out of their lethargy. Obviously there is a hunting culture in America that uses weapons with much firepower, but since hunting doesn’t speak to me at all (Jews are not hunters) I downplay its role in this debate. Safety first.

If almost everyone is in agreement that someone like the Florida school shooter should not have been able to purchase a weapon, then why can’t laws be crafted that make it more difficult for such malefactors to be denied access and easier for the good citizens to acquire and carry firearms?

It also needs to be noted that, I suspect, most homicides in America are committed with illegal weapons, not ones that are legally purchased. Illegal weapons are easily attainable, even though the average citizen would never seek to acquire an illegal weapon. As such, gun control that is too restrictive leaves weapons primarily in the hands of the criminals and outside the reach of the innocent. That doesn’t seem fair. Nor does it make any sense to argue – as politicians do all the time – that this or that law would have made a difference. Last I checked, there are laws against homicide and yet, somehow, those laws don’t deter homicidal maniacs from killing people. It is not the law as much as it is the person and the person’s capacity and willingness to obey the law.

The most recent miscreant fell through the cracks and had all the indicia of trouble. Given up for adoption, adopted parents dead, expelled from school for violence, drifting, aimless, no future and no hope – a ticking time bomb ready to explode. In his own demented way, he was crying out for help. Someone who posts on the internet using his real name that “I want to grow up to be a professional school shooter” is begging to be noticed and stopped. That no follow up was done – that he was not found – is outrageous incompetence for which someone should be called to account. A cynic might speculate that had he said “I want to grow up to be a professional school shooter and I have evidence that Trump colluded with Russia before the election” the FBI would have found him within an hour. And the ongoing problem is that had he been found, there are no laws and there is no protocol that could have confined, stopped or deterred him.

There is no one law that will be a panacea, especially in the face of the great dysfunction of the American family. And it is not as simple as saying “we should not allow weapons in the hands of the mentally ill;” is a battered woman suffering from depression under the care of a psychiatrist and threatened by a violent ex-husband “mentally ill” and therefore not permitted to buy a gun to use to defend herself? And there are gradations of mental illness as well, from mild to severe.

What is needed in the long term is a cultural change – a moral renaissance reflected in the “bourgeois values” touted by Professor Amy Wax in an article whose thesis is so self-evident that in today’s climate was considered controversial and offensive – but even in the short term measures are necessary and mostly at hand. Schools are currently soft targets, accessible to one and all, student and psychopath alike. That has to change, and providing armed guards during school hours and searches, screening and profiling for all who enter the school building should be obvious. Such is done in Israel, as is the discreet arming of some teachers who rotate carrying concealed weapons on their persons. That secures the target, reasonably if not perfectly, and greatly enhances the chances of failure of the attacker to achieve his nefarious aims as to deter even the attempt.

As the school shooters have almost all been young males – from their teens to their 20’s – it is clear that males who have been expelled from school for violence, are under the care of a mental health professional, or have exhibited cruel and unusual behavior should be placed on a watch list that denies them access to legal weapons unless they are permitted to do so by a judge upon the testimony of doctors, parents, guardians and the like. Again, this is reasonable but not perfect. So is this: adults who store weapons in their homes and do not secure them sufficiently to prevent their use by murderers should be held criminally liable with a mandatory minimum prison sentence. Ah, isn’t this blaming the victim? Well, sometimes the victim deserves some of the blame. It is not sufficient to say “I trusted him,” “I didn’t know he had a duplicate key,” “I tried to turn him into a responsible adult,” etc. If it happens on your watch, you are liable. That should get the attention of law-abiding gun owners.

It is not fair to punish hundreds of millions of law-abiding citizens because of the despicable acts of a handful of people. Nor should we renounce constitutional rights that have safeguarded American liberties and provided an effective means of self-defense. Nor should we wash our hands and say that nothing can be done because there is no perfect solution. There is no perfect solution – the psychopaths can also acquire illegal weapons, psychologists will claim that putting their patients on a watch list would violate confidentiality and encourage reticence, the fantasy of a gun-free society will always animate some – but a sane society takes elementary measures to keep weapons out of the hands of the disaffected, a sane government focuses its efforts on defending its citizens, especially its children, and rational politicians – interested in more than retaining their seats and its access to the lucre of modern politics – know how to address complex issues with substance, sensitivity and efficacy.

Yep, he really said that

by Jason Gold

On the heels of the murderer/Holocaust Denier Mahmoud Abbas' declaration at the UN ( that his mythical people/nation are actually direct descendants of the Canaanites, which Gd mandates must be wiped out for their murderous degenerate behavior (sound familiar?) as the Jews take possession of the Land of Israel, I thought it would be instructive to look at some of the other whoppers that Abbas has come up with over the years. It's gratifying to see Abbas carrying on with the Goebbels-inspired Nazi tradition of repeating lies often enough to make it the truth.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The Sharak Report: Will Bibi Fail by Inaction Again and more.....

by Moran Azulay
Education Minister Naftali Bennett asserted that a right-wing government, which enjoys the support Israel does from the Trump administration, and nevertheless does not annex West Bank settlements, has failed...
"I launched the sovereignty scheme for the first time seven years ago," Bennett said. "I'm pleased Prime Minister Netanyahu has joined in on the effort to apply sovereignty to Judea and Samaria." (Let hope so! Does the term “sovereignty” mean annexation and removal of the enemy population from the Jewish land?)
Sports and Education Minister Miri Regev added to Ynet, "Israel is not a foreign occupier in Hebron, Shiloh or Jerusalem. That's clear to everyone today, including the American administration."
Israel’s finance ministry objects to new bills sponsored by the defense ministry and MK Elazar Stern (Yesh Atid), aimed at offsetting salaries being paid out to terrorists - in and out of Israeli security prisons - by the PA. The bill obliges the finance ministry to deduct from VAT and customs it collects on behalf of the PA payments to Palestinian prisoners, as well as wounded terrorists, and their families - a mindboggling 1.2 billion shekel (about $341 million) annually. The bill would, if Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beiteinu) gets his way, move these funds to Israeli terror victims. (We are our own worst enemies! It was suggested long time ago, many times! In addition, why not use the funds to pay for extra security required to keep Jews safe from Hamas attacks - search for tunnels, building a wall and the cost of rocket interception!)
Sources in Gaza said Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad officials who were in Cairo on Saturday night informed their Egyptian intelligence contacts that they have “no interest in an escalation with Israel.” 
1. The rocket alert siren was sounded multiple times in the Eshkol region in communities along the Gaza border at around 2:30 AM, and then again at 2:45 AMon Sunday.
2. The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) announced on Sunday that they foiled an assassination attempt against Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, planned by Islamic Jihad.
3. Four soldiers wounded by the roadside bomb (improvised explosive device / IED) near Gaza border on Saturday afternoon underwent surgery all night long.
4. A home sustained a direct hit on Saturday night by a rocket launched by terrorists in Gaza - but in an open miracle, the rocket did not explode upon impact.
Food for Thought. by Steven Shamrak 
The war with enemies of Israel, on multiple fronts, is coming! Israel did not ask for it, but should be ready to make it the last one and be prepared to take an advantage of a new geopolitical situation to end any further ambiguities and unjustified claims on Jewish land. Annexation of Judea and Samaria must be done only in conjunction with persuasive encouragement for all non-Jewish residents to leave, and with provision of limited and temporary residential status while they do so!
Zionism is Jewish National Independence Movement!
Please, Support Shamrak Report - independent weekly editorial
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The Polish government has decided to “re-examine” a draft bill to compensate Holocaust survivors for property confiscated from Jews during World War 2. It is believed that the reason for returning the law to the Justice Ministry is the wave of anti-Semitism sweeping Poland. In recent weeks, Israeli officials have sharply criticized the legislation that criminalizes blaming Poland as a nation for crimes committed by Nazi Germany. Israeli critics have accused Poland of seeking to use the law to whitewash the role of some Poles who helped Germans kill Jews during the war. Holocaust scholars estimate that Poles might have either killed or helped Germans kill as many as 180,000 to 200,000 Jews. (Actually, it has never left Poland! Not long ago Poland rejected its role in facilitating the Holocaust! After the Holocaust law, Poland moved to ban kosher slaughter. It is hard not to call them by the name they rightfully deserve – anti-Semites!)
IDF force captured a mentally handicapped Lebanese civilian who crossed the security fence from Lebanon. He had been sent on a mission by two Hezbollah terrorists, brothers Mahdi and Ali Shachur, who threatened him with forced hospitalization if he did not infiltrate Israeli territory to test the border.
Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) developed a new drone control, based on satellite communication, combined with precise automated taxiing, takeoff, and landing. This innovation constitutes a major breakthrough in the remote operation concept, allowing the drone to land in remote runways located thousands of miles away, where it is serviced by a small crew and basic fuelling infrastructure before it takes off for an additional mission.
Jordan has secured a promise of five more years of US financial aid, to the tune of at least $1.275 billion per year, replacing three-year US aid to Jordan deal. Trump threatened to cut off financial aid to countries that supported a UN resolution calling for the US to withdraw its decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Two IDF soldiers were injured after they accidentally drove into the PA-controlled town of Jenin, and were assaulted by a mob, which attempted to break into their car. The vehicle was pelted by rocks, smashing several windows, and injuring the two soldiers inside. Rioters managed to steal one soldier’s gun. The soldiers say they escaped on their own, and the PA police instigated the mob's attack. (The IDF rules of engagement must be reviewed and changed! Jews must be allowed to defend themselves from terror-infested enemy population.)
QUOTE of the WEEK:
“The annexation of the Golan Heights was against the position of President Ronald Reagan, who was a very pro-Israel president, and he even imposed sanctions on Israel as a result,” Elkin said. “Today, nobody remembers President Reagan’s sanctions, but we are left with full Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.” - Ze’ev Elkin, Minister of Jerusalem Affairs  Israel exists in spite of the wishes of anti-Semitic international elite, including the US government! Starting even before the establishment of the Jewish state, since 1922, they have been doing everything to secure its defeat from the hands of Arab/Muslim neighbours!
by Khaled Abu Toameh
Nobody cares about fake Palestinian refugees, if Israel 
can’t be blamed!
Why the need to keep reminding the world of the plight of the Palestinians in Syria? It is because the international community and pro-Palestinian groups around the world do not seem to care about the atrocities that are being committed against Palestinians in Syria or any Arab country because they were not committed by Israel...
A Palestinian refugee camp has been under siege for more than 1,660 days. Hundreds of the camp residents have been killed, while tens of thousands have been forced to flee from their homes. Those who have remained in the camp -- mostly the elderly, women and children -- live in unspeakable sanitary conditions and drink polluted water...
The name of the camp is Yarmouk, and it is located about five miles from the Syrian capital of Damascus. More than 100,000 Palestinians used to live in the 2.11 square-kilometre Yarmouk camp before the civil war erupted in Syria in 2011. By the end of 2014, the number of the camp residents had plummeted to 13,000...
Altogether, since the beginning of the civil war, more than 85,000 Palestinians have fled Syria to Europe. An additional 30,000 have found refuge in Lebanon, while 17,000 have chosen to settle in Jordan, 6,000 in Egypt and 8,000 in Turkey...
The 82-year-old Abbas, meanwhile, has made clear where his priorities stand. Instead of searching for ways to help his people in Syria and the Gaza Strip, where hospitals are facing a deathly shortage of fuel and medicine, Abbas has just spent $50 million to purchase a "presidential plane."
...For him, delivering a speech before the EU Parliament or the UN General Assembly easily takes precedence over the Palestinians who are dying due to lack of medicine and food. (This story proves it again, that, in order to achieve peace in Israel, it is plausible to remove the enemy population from the Jewish land and resettle it somewhere else!)

Rabbi Pinchas Winston: The Purpose of Creation

by Rabbi Pinchas Winston

Make holy garments for Aharon, your brother, for glory and for splendor. (Shemos 28:2)

THERE ARE MANY ways to describe the purpose of Creation. However, they all come down to a single idea:

If you analyze the days of old which preceded you, from the time God first created man upon the earth, and investigate from one end of heaven unto the other end of heaven, can you find anything that has occurred as great as this; has the likes of this ever been heard? Did a people ever hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of fire, as you did, and yet survive? Did ever God take a nation from the midst of another nation, through tests and signs, by wonders, by war, by a strong hand and stretched out arm, with awe, as God, your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes? This was shown to you so that you could know that God is God, and that there is no one else aside from Him. (Devarim 4:32-35)

To appreciate what this truly means, it is important to be more specific, especially considering what the Hebrew text says:

… To know that Hashem is Elokim, and there is no one else but Him.

It is not simply a matter of knowing that “God is God,” but specifically of knowing that Hashem, spelled Yud-Heh-Vav-Heh, is “Elokim,” as we repeat seven times at the end of Yom Kippur. Elokim may run the world in a quiet behind-the-scenes manner which others call “Nature,” but it is really Hashem running the entire show.

To better understand what this means, the Torah later warns about an opposite reality:

“I will become very angry at them on that day, and I will abandon them and hide My face from them. They will be devoured, and plagued by many evils that will distress them, and will say, ‘Do we not suffer because God has left us?’ ” (Devarim 31:17)

It will be as if I do not see their troubles. (Rashi)

“As if,” but not actually. During hester panim, when God hides His face, so-to-speak, the result is a perception of abandonment by God, as a result of what happens in history and how. God ALWAYS runs the show, and is as involved in the lives and destiny of the Jewish people as ever. It just won’t appear like that in the minds of the Jewish people, the result of previously having ignored God.

Hence, the Ba’al HaTurim reveals that:

The end letters [of the Hebrew words for “hide My face from them. They will be devoured”] have the gematria of ‘Haman,’ and this is what the rabbis learn in Chullin (139b), that “Anochi haster astir” hints to Esther.

Haman, the infamous descendant of Amalek, whose main offense is tampering with the perception of the Jewish people:

The hand is on God’s Throne . . . (Shemos 17:16)

The hand of God is raised to swear by His Throne to have eternal war and hatred against Amalek. Why is it written Chof-Samech and not Chof-Samech-Aleph and why is the Name divided in two? God swore that His . . . Throne will not be whole until the name of Amalek is completely obliterated. (Rashi, Shemos 17:16)

This means that Amalek exists to create doubt regarding Hashgochah Pratis—Divine Providence—making it seem as if God does not see all that happens in the world of man, or at least, that He doesn’t care. Hence, the gematria of his name equals 240, the same as the Hebrew word “suffek,” which means “doubt.”

“Amalek” can also be read, Ayin-malak—Mem-Lamed-Kuf—which means “severed eye,” because that is what he does: he severs the MIND’S eye of the Jewish people. But apparently, it is only an eye that the Jewish people have begun to sever themselves:

Then came Amalek and attacked the Jewish people in Refidim. (Devarim 17:8)

The Torah places this section immediately after this verse (when they asked, “Is God amongst us or not?”) to imply, “I am always amongst you and ready at hand for everything you need, and yet you say, ‘Is God amongst us or not?’ By your lives, that dog shall come and bite you, and you will cry for Me and then you will know where I am!” It is like a man who carried his son on his shoulders and went on a journey. The son saw an article and said, “Father, pick up that thing and give it to me.” He gave it to him, and so a second time and also a third time. Yet, when they met a certain man along the journey, the son asked him, “Have you seen my father anywhere?” Therefore, the father said to him, “You do not know where I am?” At which point he put him down and a dog came and bit him. (Rashi, Shemos 17:8)

Based upon this, it would seem that Amalek is the name of the spiritual void that results when the Jewish people cease to be real with the idea that “Hashem is Elokim.” This is why the potential for Amalek, in the form of Haman, resulted when Adam HaRishon ate from the Aitz HaDa’as Tov v’Ra—the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, as the Talmud states:

Where is there an allusion to Haman in the Torah? In the verse, “Did you eat from—hamin—the tree?”
(Chullin 139b)

It is a play on the word “hamin,” which can also be read, “Haman,” establishing a connection between Haman and the Aitz HaDa’as Tov v’Ra. Hence, the main result of the eating itself, the Torah says was:

God called out to the man, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard Your voice in the Garden. I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.” (Bereishis 3:9-10)

Hide from God? Is that even possible? No. But, a person can think that they are hiding from God if they are not real with the idea that “Hashem is Elokim.” If a person takes God’s silence as evidence of His absence, they can easily delude himself into believing that God goes elsewhere at times.

That’s why it is not coincidental, but Hashgochah Pratis, that Parashas Zachor is usually Parashas Tetzaveh. It is the role of the kohanim through their office, and the “Nation of Priests” through their lifestyle, to make the reality of “Hashem is Elokim” apparent to everyone. If we don’t, then we become evidence of just that opposite, suffering as a result and profaning God’s Name in the process.

HaRav Nachman Kahana: Five Parshiot and a Half Shekel

Parashat Tetzaveh 5778
HaRav Nachman Kahana

There is much to be learned not only from the text of the parshiot (Torah portions) but even from their order of appearance.

The last five parshiot of Shemot are Terumah, Tetzaveh, Ki Tisa, Vayak’hel and Pekudai.

Terumah and Tetzaveh deal with the Mishkan and its implements, while parashat Ki Tisa interrupts the sequence and tells of the sinful and disastrous episode of the Aigel Hazahav (the Golden Calf).

The final two parshiot, Vayak’hel and Pekudai, return to the subject of the Mishkan and its implements.

Mishkan, Mishkan, tragic episode of idolatry, and again Mishkan, Mishkan – what does it mean?

I submit:

The Torah, through the sequence of these five parshiot, is informing the Jewish people of the future that awaits them.

The instructions in parashat Terumah allude to the 478 years of the Mishkan before the Bet Hamikdash is established in Yerushalayim – 39 years in the desert, 14 years at Gilgal, 369 years at Shiloh, and 56 years in Nov and Givon.

Tetzaveh alludes to the 410 years of the Bet Hamikdash of King Shlomo on the Temple Mount.

The disastrous and sinful act of idolatry in parashat Ki Tisa alludes to the destruction of King Shlomo’s (Solomon) Bet Hamikdash and the 70 years of exile for reasons of idolatry.

Parashat Vayak’hel alludes to the Bet Hamikdash built by Ezra and the Jews who returned with him from Babylon and Persia.

Parashat Pekudai alludes to the magnificent Bet HaMikdash built by Hordus (Herod).

The Temples of Ezra and Hordus stood for 420 years before being destroyed by the Romans and the subsequent 2000-year exile of the Jewish people from our holy land. This tragic period of death and destruction of our physical, religious and moral being in the galut is alluded to by the break between the books of Shemot and Vayikra.

The Jewish people are now standing in the new age of Vayikra, the book that instructs the nation as to the various kinds of sacrifices. It is as if to say, “Prepare – it is not far off.”

For those who understand, the time we are living in is one of profound celebration for the beginning of our redemption and salvation. After 2000 years of unspeakable calamities to our nation, HaShem has recognized and honors the unflinching loyalty of His people and has returned us to our ancient Holy Land.

To remain true to the Torah, even after the Shoah, is worthy of the highest rewards from our Father in Heaven.

He has restored our sovereignty over a large part of Eretz Yisrael and over Yerushalayim.

He has protected us in times of war and has made us prosperous in times of peace. We are creating a Torah empire here the likes of which has not existed anywhere for over 2000 years.

What is transpiring today in the lands of our enemies is a remarkable, miraculous sign of HaShem’s protective wing over His children in Eretz Yisrael.

In the Song at the Sea (Shirat Hayam, Shemot 15:7), the survivors sang:

וברב גאונך תהרס קמיך תשלח חרנך יאכלמו כקש
“With Your infinite genius, You destroyed those who rose up against You. You unleashed your burning anger. It consumed them like straw”

At first glance, one would think that instead of “With Your infinite genius,” the wording should be “With Your infinite strength.”

But indeed, “With Your infinite genius” is the fitting statement. It describes how HaShem, in His infinite genius, time and again frustrates the diabolical plans of our enemies in ways which are totally unpredictable, and yet He keeps His hidden presence intact.

In keeping with this, just consider what is happening so suddenly and unexpectedly in our region.

The Arabs will be busy fighting each other for years to come. Sunnis vs. Shiites and both against the Alevis. Arabs against Iranians. Libyans against each other. Christian Copts vs. Moslems in Egypt. Everyone against everyone in Lebanon and Syria. The Sunnis of Iraq against the Shiites of Iraq and all of them against the Kurds. The Turks against the Kurds, and the former Southern Moslem states of the USSR against Russia and against themselves. The flood of Arab refugees from North Africa into Europe, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Yemen, Bahrain, Oman, Somalia and more.

And within the midst of all this – in the eye of the hurricane – stands the tiny State of Israel, prosperous and happy in the knowledge that HaShem has spread over us His holy cloud of protection, as in the time of our forefathers’ sojourn in the desert.

Indeed, the greatest of life’s experiences is to be a Jew living today in Eretz Yisrael.

Salvation in the Mitzva of Shekalim

The Mishna (Shekalim 1,1) informs us that beginning with the month of Adar (the one closest to Nisan), nationwide announcements were made regarding the annual payment of one half shekel. This payment was a Torah mitzva, with the money being earmarked for purchasing animals for public sacrifices during the time that the Bet Hamikdash and the various Mishkanot were standing.

The Gemara (Megila 13b) points out the direct connection between the mitzva of shekalim and the holiday of Purim:

אמר ריש לקיש הלוי וידוע לפני מי שאמר והיה העולם שעתיד המן לשקול שקלים על ישראל, לפיכך הקדים שקליהן לשקליו. והיינו דתנן: באחד באדר משמיעין על השקלים וגו’
Raish Lakish (the Eretz Yisrael Amora Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish) said: It was apparent to the Creator of the world that, in the future, Haman would count out (give) shekalim to destroy the Jewish people. Therefore, HaShem pre-empted this attempt by having the Jewish people precede Haman’s shekalim with their mitzva of shekalim.


Initially, the connection between the holy mitzva of shekalim and the Amalek Haman would appear to be imposed and illogical. What does the mitzva of shekalim have to do with Haman and the Purim episode?

Why did Achashverosh and Haman limit the time for the “final solution” to their “Jewish problem” to one day – the 13th of Adar?

Why did Haman offer the king 10,000 talents of silver, when all property and belongings of millions of Jews in the King’s 127 states would belong to him anyway after annihilating his loyal Jewish subjects?

How many divisions did Haman have to enforce the decree of killing all the Jews in one day?

Even Achashverosh’s army could not accomplish such a widespread genocide, when taking into account that many Jews would hide on that day or change their appearance.

I suggest:

Haman had no soldiers, and Achashverosh’s army did not know all the Jews in their various districts in order to kill every man, woman and child.

Indeed, the monarchy was unable to carry out its own dictates. However, the local people in each of the 127 states, who knew their Jewish neighbors and their whereabouts, could perform the grisly task of murdering millions of Jews in one day. The plan was to give the goyim an incentive to rise up against their peaceful Jewish neighbors and murder them a la Hevron 1929.

The incentive was that any citizen in Bavel and Medes who murdered a Jewish family could keep their possessions. But it had to be done on the 13th of Adar in order to foment the hatred into a murderous frenzy and also to prevent the Jews from regrouping and retaliating.

Now, in order to compensate the King for relinquishing all that Jewish wealth, Haman offered him 10,000 talents of silver.

Haman’s plan was to exploit the inherent anti-Jewishness of the tranquil peace-loving citizens of Persia and Medes by offering financial promises in return for their cooperation in annihilating the entire Jewish nation in one day. A brilliant, diabolical plan worthy of Amalek. This was not to be an establishment-initiated and orchestrated genocide, but rather the general will of the loyal citizens who thought that the root of all evil in the world was the satanic Jewish people and their ancient “Protocols of Zion” whose goal was to control the world.

To fully grasp the extent of the danger that awaited the Jews of Persia and Medes, just imagine what would have happened in 20th-century Poland, Ukraine, Russia, France and all the other countries of Europe had the Germans allowed any gentile who killed a Jewish family to keep the spoils. All of Christian Europe would have fallen into the same evil trap that Achashverosh and Haman set for the Jews of Persia and Medes. But this was prevented by the very evil and greed in the German heart that so coveted the Jewish property to not want to share it with their gentile comrades of Europe.

Now comes into play the connection between the mitzva of shekalim and its capacity to abrogate the evil intent of Haman and Achashverosh.

Shekalim is the most universal mitzva in the Torah. It eliminates all distinctions between Jews. A rich man was not allowed to donate more than a half shekel, just as an indigent person had to do everything possible to acquire a half shekel. Wise or foolish, talmid chacham or unlearned, rich or poor, nobility or common man – all had an equal share in the same mitzva.

This universal act on the part of every Jew was the exact opposite of the planned universal act of every goy of Persia and Medes to destroy the Jewish nation. It was the universal national will of Am Yisrael to uphold HaShem’s mitzva of shekalim for the Bet Hamikdash that exposed and highlighted the distinction between HaShem’s chosen people, who lived a life of Torah, and the murderous common people of those 127 states.

The background of the Purim episode has returned to haunt us. Judenhass (hatred of the Jews) in today’s world is not government initiated. Quite the contrary, in the free world it is prohibited to be anti-Semitic in public. However, it is present in all ranks of society from cocktail parties along the Potomac, to university campuses, to high schools and even to supermarkets where the common folk come out to convince people not to buy Israeli products. Walking today in most European cities while wearing a kipa is a courageous act.

Purim is here again with the same cast of players. We Jews still naively believe that there is inherent good in mankind. In reality, the goyim haven’t changed, except that today they camouflage their murderous intentions with politically and morally accepted nuances.

And as in the time of the Purim episode, we must be prepared to defend ourselves against outwardly-unabashed Jew-hating enemies, and we must also be wary of allies whose “friendly” advice to Medinat Yisrael would lead us to extinction.

Shabbat Shalom,
Nachman Kahana
Copyright © 5778/2018 Nachman Kahana