Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Parshas Zachor I: Emunah: The Key To Defeating Amaleik

This is adapted from a longer d’var torah that I wrote for Purim last year. A significant part of this d'var torah is based on the Sefes Emes.

The Emunah of Klal Yisroel

The gemara in Chullin (5B) says that the posukadam u’behaima toshia Hashem” refers to one who is “arumin b’da’as k’adam u’meisimin atzmom k’behaimah”. The Sefas Emes in his ma’amarim on Purim explains that this specifically referring to the status of B’nei Yisroel when they left Mitzrayim. The B’nei Yisroel were viewed as an animal that willingly follows his master wherever it may take him. This is also the kavanah behind the posuk “lechtech acharai bamidbar b’eretz lo zeruah”. The Navi is highlighting the emunah peshuta that the B’nei Yisroel possessed at the time of Yitziyas Mitzrayim. The Sefas Emes adds that this is also the pshat in the "na’aseh v’nishma" that the B’nei Yisroel said at the time of Ma’amad Har Sinai. The “hakdamas na’aseh l’nishma” doesn’t just refer to the fact that the B’nei Yisroel said “na’aseh” before “nishma”, but rather it is referring to the mesiras nefesh and emunah that Klal Yisroel showed by blindly following HKBH out of Mitzrayim. It is davka because of this koach of mesiras nefesh that the B’nei Yisroel were zocheh to receive the Torah.

Understanding Amaleik's Attack

With this understanding we can now understand the purpose behind Amaleik’s attack on Klal Yisroel right after Yitziyas Mitzrayim. Amaleik came to weaken the koach of emunah and mesiras nefesh that Klal Yisroel possessed. We can also now appreciate the order of events that occurred in Parshas Beshalach. Immediately preceding the attack, B’nei Yisroel had complained to Moshe saying “ha yesh Hashem b’kirbeinu”. Klal Yisroel had shown a weakness in their emunah and it was precisely at this point that Amaleik realized the B’nei Yisroel were vulnerable. Amaleik attacked for the purpose of further weakening the emunah and mesiras nefesh of Klal Yisroel. As Rashi points out on the posuk “asher karcha baderech”, Amaleik came to “cool off” Klal Yisroel. The B’nei Yisroel until now had demonstrated tremendous mesiras nefesh and had shown complete emunah in HKBH. Now that they slipped a little, Amaleik came to cool them off completely.

Defeating Amaleik

The B’nei Yisroel were able to defeat Amaleik at this time by regaining their emunah. The medrash explains that when Moshe raised his hands the B’nei Yisroel looked up to Hashem and they won. The pshat in this medrash is obvious. Both the Meor VaShemesh (Parshas Beshalach) and the Sefas Emes explain that Amaleik was only able to attack the B’nei Yisroel because of their chisaron in emunah. However, once the B’nei Yisroel lifted their eyes up to Hashem and reaffirmed their emunah they were able to be successful. Amaleik’s strength only comes from the weakness of B’nei Yisroel. (This is also the idea behind “u’L’om milom ye’ematz”, that when Eisav is strong Yaakov is weak and vice versa). Once the B’nei Yisroel were able to strengthen their mesiras nefesh and reaffirm their emunah in HKBH, then Amaleik had no koach over them. However, even though the B’nei Yisroel defeated Amaleik at Rifidim, the Sefas Emes explains that there was still a lasting effect. Amaleik weakened the B’nei Yisroel just enough that they would eventually sin by the chait haeigel. The B’nei Yisroel hadn’t yet reached their shlaimus and Amaleik’s attack ensured that this shlaimus would not happen.

Kafa Aleihem Har K'Gigis

The gemara in Shabbos explains that at Har Sinai HKBH was “kafeh aleihem har k’gigis” and forced the B’nei Yisroel to accept the Torah. Tosfos asks why was this necessary if the B’nei Yisroel had already said “na’aseh v’nishma”? The Sefas Emes presents a very interesting explanation. He explains that HKBH saw that the B’nei Yisroel would eventually sin by the chait haeigel. In order to ensure that the Torah would still stay with the B’nei Yisroel after the chait, HKBH felt it necessary to “force” them to accept the Torah. In other words “kafeh aleihem har k’gigis” was not a form of coercion but a zechus. HKBH was mezakeh them with this method so that the Torah would stay with them even after the chait. (This fits in very well with an idea from the Meshech Chachma that “kafeh aleihem har k’gigis” means was not a threat but rather there was such a gilui shechina and a revelation of HKBH, that it was impossible to deny the existence of Hashem. In other words, the B’nei Yisroel were infused with an overwhelming sense of emunah in HKBH that they had no other choice but to accept the Torah). Why were the B’nei Yisroel zocheh to this? Explains the Sefas Emes that it was because of the mesiras nefesh they exhibited by being makdimna’aseh” to the “nishma”. As we explained above, this “hakdamas na’aseh l’nishma” refers to the bechina of emunah peshuta and “lechtech acharai bamidbar” that Klal Yisroel showed by Yitziyas Mitzrayim. It was because of this that the B’nei Yisroel were zocheh to the “kafeh aleihem har k’gigis” which ensured that the Torah would stay with us.

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