Shabbat we read from two Torah scrolls. In the first we read the portion
of Tzav. The portion begins with the Mitzvah of removal of ashes from
the altar and maintaining a constant flame on the altar. Each morning,
the ashes from the previous day’s offerings were removed from the altar.
First, a portion of the ashes were placed next to the altar. Thereafter,
the remaining ashes were removed from the altar and placed outside of
the Temple. The ashes next to the altar were miraculously absorbed in
know that Hashem does not make miracles unless there is a special
reason. Why should the ashes be placed next to the altar and be absorbed
there? This gives us a lesson about the Mitzvot that we perform. The
offerings on the altar teach us the effect of Mitzvot. When we brought
an offering, a mundane animal was elevated to a spiritual plane. The
Gemara teaches that there was a lion of fire that ate the offerings,
demonstrating that they became part of the heavens. When we do a
Mitzvah, we take a mundane object and sanctify it by using for Hashem’s
ashes being absorbed represent permanence. Part of every offering
remained and became part of the altar. Similarly, every Mitzvah that we
do has permanence. If we do an act of charity, although the money is
long gone, the Mitzvah remains. The cumulative effect in the world and
in the heart and soul of the one who does the Mitzvah remains.
altar had a constant flame. The altar represents the Jewish heart. The
flame burns forever. We must always serve Hashem with warmth. The
Tzemach Tzedek often said that between coldness and apostasy is a small
division. This has a deep connection to the portion of Zachor, where
Amalek seeks to cool our enthusiasm.
portion continues with the consecration of the Temple. After great
effort in construction, this week the Temple service began. This has a
special connection to Purim. The Gemara teaches that three Mitzvot
applied consecutively upon entering Israel: appointing a king,
destroying Amalek, and building the Temple. Since Purim is the
destruction of Amalek, this week is ideal for the construction of the
Hashem grant that this Shabbat we merit the final annihilation of Amalek
and the consecration of the third Beit Hamikdash through Moshiach.
Sameach and Shabbat Shalom,
Parshat Zachor-Keep the Fire Burning
this is the Shabbat before Purim, for the Maftir we take out a second
scroll and read a special portion, Parshat Zachor. Haman was a
descendant of Amalek, and therefore the Shabbat before Purim we read
about the annihilation of Amalek. Parshat Zachor is unique in that it is
the only portion in the Torah that is a defined Mitzvah to hear. It is
always a Mitzvah to listen to the Torah being read, but there is a
specific Mitzvah to hear the portion of Zachor. It is desirable that
ladies also hear the reading of Parshat Zachor.
the Jewish people left Egypt, after the splitting of the Red Sea, the
nation of Amalek came and attacked them. After a miraculous war, the
Jewish people were commanded that upon settling in Israel they must
annihilate the memory of Amalek. As in every Mitzvah, the destruction of
Amalek parallels a concept in service of Hashem that is relevant even
when the physical Mitzvah doesn’t apply.
Parshat Zachor begins “Remember what Amalek did to you on the way as you
came out of Egypt. He encountered you on the way, and cut down the
weak…” In addition to meaning encountered you, the term “Karcha” means
that he cooled you off. Rashi explains that upon leaving Egypt the
nations of the world feared the Jewish people. They were “too hot to
touch.” After Amalek had attacked them, although Amalek lost, they were
spiritual sense, becoming closer to Hashem is a concept of Exodus. The
word Mitzrayim (Egypt) comes from the Hebrew root Metzarim, which means
boundaries and limitations. Going beyond our boundaries and rising in
the service of Hashem is our personal Exodus from Mitzrayim. However,
even after we feel the joy and excitement of coming closer to Hashem,
our negative inclination tells us to cool down, to take it easy. He
tries to convince us that it suffices to be as good as before. Why
strive? Why the excitement? This is Amalek. This is the root of all
evil. We must completely ignore our negative side and reach true
describing the war with Amalek, the Torah relates something fascinating.
When Moshe raised his hands, the Jewish people were victorious. When he
lowered them, Amalek prevailed. When dealing with inner evil,
particularly intense evil, our own efforts are insufficient. We must
turn to the Tzaddikim of the generation. Our efforts combined with their
merits and prayers will prevail.
final vanquishing of Amalek will be in the time of Moshiach. May Hashem
grant that through our battling the Amalek within us we will speedily
merit the coming of Moshiach and respite from all of our enemies.
Shalom and Bracha!
Saturday night and Sunday are Purim. Purim is the celebration of the
salvation of the Jewish people from annihilation through the efforts of
Mordechai and Esther. Purim has four major Mitzvot. Inclusiveness is
integral to all of them. Haman slandered the Jewish people as being a
divided people. By including as many fellow Jews as possible in the
observance of Purim, we negate his slander.
first Mitzvah of Purim is listening to the Megillah. The Megillah is
read Saturday night and again Sunday morning. Although we must hear each
word of the Megillah, it is customary to make noise whenever Haman the
wicked or Haman the son of Hamdata is said. This is to fulfill the
Mitzvah of erasing Amalek’s name. A significant part of the Megillah
reading is Pirsumei Nissa, publicizing the miracle. Before approaching
the king to save the Jewish people, Esther asked Mordechai to gather the
Jewish people. It is therefore desirable to have as many people as
possible attend the reading.
second is Mishloach Manot, sending gifts of food. A minimum of two kinds
of food or drink must be sent to a friend on Purim. The custom is to
give more than two kinds to many people and that men send to men and
women send to women. By including among the recipients Jewish people who
are unaccustomed to the Mitzvah of Mishloach Manot, we not only share
joy but also the beauty of our heritage.
third is Matanot Laevyonim, giving charity to at least two poor people
on the day of Purim. Giving money to many poor people is a greater
Mitzvah than send food to many friends. Gifts to the poor can be sent
through emissaries. In the spirit of inclusion, it is a great Mitzvah to
encourage others to participate in Matanot Laevyonim.
fourth is to eat a festive meal on the day of Purim. It is customary to
say L’chayim at this meal. There is a special addition to the Grace
after meals on Purim. The true joy of the festive meal is when we invite
guests and share the joy with others.
teaches us that the survival of the Jewish people is fully in the hands
of Hashem. When we place our faith fully in Him, even our darkest hour
can be transformed into our greatest joy.
this month when mourning was replaced by festivity, may the pain of the
last moments of exile be replaced by the joy of redemption.
L’chayim and Purim Sameach!!
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