Parsha Ki Sisa, 5764 -- Eretz Yisrael, B'nai Yisrael & Torah Principles.
By Moshe Burt
I'll segue into our Parsha Ki Sisa by revisiting the now famous (or infamous) "Mother of all Press leaks" of Purim, 5764;
In a decision which will reverberate through Israel and world Jewry, a well-placed, unnamed Senior official of Agudas Yisrael has broken an exclusive story on the upcoming Purim announcement of Rav Chaim Zev HaLevy, Sh'lita of Jerusalem/Ramat Beit Shemesh --i.e. that he has tossed his Black Hat into the ring as a Candidate for the Offices of Prime Minister of Israel and both Chief Rabbis.
Rav HaLevy, Sh'lita is dismayed and angered by those who seek a return to conditions of pre-1967 which, coincidentally, was the year when the Crock Pot became envogue throughout the world. <http://familyfun.go.com/recipes/family/recipe/dony58slowcook/dony58slowcook9.html>
Rav HaLevy, Sh'lita is running on a platform "An Insert for every Crock Pot", thereby making Hatmana legal according to the psak of Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, Zt'l. Further, he will act to compell strict enforcement of the Rama's Mitzvah " to store food for Shabbos in a manner that will retain its heat so that there will be hot food to eat on Shabbos, for hot food is something which is an honor and a delight of Shabbos. " (Mishnah Berurah, Hilchos Shabbos, Simon 257.8<49>)
Further, Rav HaLevy will press for fulfillment of the dictates of Hilchos Shabbos, namely, that L'Kavod HaShabbos, Cholent shall be a mandatory staple of Shabbos lunch in every home. As enunciated years ago by the Rama, "Whoever does not trust in the words of the Sages and forbids eating hot food on Shabbos may be suspected of being a heretic."
Rav HaLevy will also pronounce henceforth, that the Rama in Hilchos Shabbos 329:6 be adhered to."You can't obey the Rama when it comes to Cholent, and ignore him in more weighty matters--more weighty, indeed, even than Cholent."
In addition, Rav HaLevy, Sh'lita will make a major policy statement in which he will endorse Israel's immediate annexation of lands with sizeable Jewish Populations -- Lakewood, Borough Park, Flatbush, Queens and Monsey.
And finally, he will announce the contestants in the 2004 World Series; the Philadelphia Phillies and the Boston Red Sox. Hallel (without Bracha) will be made mandatory upon the final out of the final game and will be sung by "Duaf of Memphis."
Oh, that the above scenario, though humorous, would be essentially true (omitting the World Series part). For B'nai Yisrael needs men of principle such as Rav Chaim Zev HaLevy, Sh'lita who have Emunah, Bitachon and Yirah in Hashem rather than the bunch of Am Dismantlement Losers who claim the leadership mantle today. Oh, that principle and altruism would rule rather than self-enrichment, self-aggrandisement and protexia.
Parsha Ki Sisa is significant to me as it was my son Philip's Bar Mitzvah Parsha back in 1991, days after the Gulf War 1 ended and in my first year as a Ba'al Teshuva (Newly observant in Torah & Mitzvot). And so each year, I speak about a parallel or allusion in this Parsha to another Parsha which we read later in the year, as B'nai Yisrael approaches the end of her journey in BaMidbar and is about to enter Eretz Yisrael.
In this Purim season, I sense a parallel between the two heroes of Purim and it's paradigm villain and the hero and villains alluded to below. (I'm not speaking here of Moshe Rabbeinu and Aaron HaKohen or Dasan and Aviram.) Therefore, I will give a slightly different treatment, a slightly different twist to Parsha Ki Sisa than may have given in the past.
To begin, I want to discuss Purim and what's going on between Haman and Mordechai and why Haman gave Mordechai and B'nai Yisrael such a "hard way to go."
One must understand that while Mordechai, out of principle, would not bow to Haman for to do so would be to validate Haman and the avodah zorah in his pocket as deities and would be a great Chillul Hashem. As an aside, the Jews often complained to Mordechai saying, "You are endangering all of us. Why do you defy the King's decree (regarding bowing to Haman)?" To that Mordechai answers, "Because I am a Jew!" "But didn't your ancestor Yaakov bow down to his ancestor Esav seven times?" "My grandfather Binyamin was still in his mother's womb at that time and did not bow to Esav. In the same manner I, his grandson, will neither bow down nor prostrate myself before Haman." ("127 Insights Into Megillat Esther", pgs. 94-95.) However, there so much more going on inside between Haman and Mordechai dating back years previous to King Achash'verosh's famous 180 day party, Vashti's death sentence, etc.
I've seen two different accounts of how this grudge of Haman toward Mordechai began. One version is included in the Sefer "127 Insights Into Megillas Esther" which is a compilation from the words of Chazal authored by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach. The second account is from the "Encyclopedia of Biblical Personalities" anthologized from Talmud, Midrash and Rabbinic writings. This Sefer was compiled by Rabbi Yisrael Yitzchak (Yishai) Chasidah. The Encyclopedia, when speaking of Haman and Mordechai brings quotes from the Megillat Esther, Aggadah Esther and Zohar. Also quoted is a short commentary from the Artscroll Megillat Esther.
The versions go as follows;
According to the "Encyclopedia", Mordechai is with the Jews building the wall of Jerusalem when the enemies come and halt the construction. "You are building without the King's permission!", said the nations. The Jews answered, "It is with his permission!" So the enemies said, "Select one of your men and we'll select one of ours and let them go to the king." The Nations chose Haman and the Jews chose Mordechai. Both men prepared provisions for their trip to the King. As they traveled, Mordechai budgeted his food so that it would last him for the entire trip while Haman ate carelessly and squandered his provisions. As a result, Haman asked Mordechai to loan him some bread. Mordechai responded by asking, "If I give you a loaf, will you sell yourself to me as a slave?" Haman responded "Yes." Therefore, Haman wrote upon Mordechai's shoe (some say that the deed of sale was tied to Mordechai's leg.) "I, Haman, the Agagite, am the slave of Mordechai, the Jew, to whom I sold myself for one loaf of bread."
"127 Insights into Megillat Esther" relates a different story but with the same end result. Here, many years earlier, the king had entrusted Mordechai and Haman each with large sums of money and ordered them to conquer a certain province. Haman squandered his half, presumably on Haman, and had nothing left to spend on the soldiers under his command. He then approached Mordechai, who had conserved his half, and asked for a loan. Mordechai extended the loan only after Haman sold himself to him as a slave. (P.97)
Both versions relate that Haman sold himself as a slave to Mordechai.
Then came Haman's Big Break. Achash'verosh held his Big Bash which was attended by many Jews inspite of Mordechai's warnings not to attend. At this huge party, the Kali'im from the Beit HaMikdash and the Urim Tumim of the Cohan Godol were displayed. And we all know how Queen Vashti refused the King's orders to display herself for the guests. The intoxicated Achash'verosh was outraged and turned "to the wise men, who knew the times...about what should be done according to the law." He turned first to the Torah sages who had special knowledge regarding new months, leap years, etc. The sages, however, knew that however they ruled, there was no way to avoid offending the King. Therefore, they explained to the king that since the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash, they'd lost their power of counsel and could no longer decide capital cases. Therefore, seven other judges were chosen. The seventh of the judges was Memuchan. "A Tanna taught; "Memuchan is Haman. Why was he called Memuchan? Because a Tanna taught; he (Muchan) was destined for destruction. Rav Kahana, a Tanna of Gemara said; From here we see that an ignoramous always thrusts himself into the forefront." (Artscroll Megillat Esther P.48) He was mentioned last among the judges yet spoke first. ("127 Insights into Megillat Esther" P.55-57)
I heard it suggested by a young Yeshiva Bochur during Purim that it could be that Haman had a domineering, overbearing wife. This may have accounted for his asserting his "Manhood" in rushing to speak up to the King over the Vashti affair. King Achash'verosh accepted Haman's explanation that the King must enforce a law that every man's home is his castle and that wives are not permitted to go against their husband's wishes.
So impressed was Achash'verosh with Haman that his rise to become second to the King was meteoric. Later, Haman persuaded the King that he didn't need to consult with others before making laws. This ruling by the King opened the way for the decree against the Jews, but ultimately, to saving of the Jews and to the demise of Haman.
Subsequent to Haman becoming second to the king, Mordechai sat at the king's gate and "whenever Haman passed, Mordechai would extend his foot, with the shoe on which the deed of sale (Haman's status of slave to Mordechai) was inscribed. This would fill Haman, with his haughty pride in his wealth, with rage." (Megillat Esther perek 3, posuk 5; Aggadah Esther perek 5, posuk 9.) "Mordechai showed that wicked [Haman] his leg [around which the deed of sale was tied]. That is why Haman became furious." (Zohar 2:112b) Each time they met and Mordechai displayed the document, Haman was reminded of his past, that he was slave of Mordechai and that his present wealth was meaningless. In fact, the document proved that Haman's wealth, in fact, belonged to his owner, Mordechai.
Haman needed to expunge all memory of his obligation to Mordechai. It seems that he could not merely do in Mordechai as it would not have been politically correct. Therefore, he had to do away with all of B'nai Yisrael in order to eradicate all knowledge of the deed of sale. As second to the King, Haman used his great riches to purchase the King's decree to destroy the Jews. And then we all know the rest of the story -- Esther's fast, the two banquets, Achash'verosh's sleepless night and review of the Royal Log, the honoring of Mordechai, the pot of excrement on Haman's head, all leading to the demise of Haman and his 10 sons and the reacceptance of Torah by B'nai Yisrael.
But what does all of this have to do with Parsha Ki Sisa? I mentioned above that Parsha Ki Sisa was my son's Bar Mitzvah Parsha. And so I sat (12 years ago) in Rabbi Yisrael Meir Vogel's home, back in Philadelphia, going through the Parsha looking for a subject to build a D'var Torah around. Then this posuk popped out and hit me square between the eyes; "V'et Aharon v'et ba'anav timshach v'kiddashtah otam l'Cohan Li:" -- "You shall also annoint Aharon and his sons, and sanctify them to serve me as Kohanim." (Parsha Ki Sisa, perek 30, posuk 30.)
Here, you are probably wondering, where did this come from?? What does this seemingly obscure and repetitive posuk have to do with Mordechai and Haman?? And what Parsha is being mirrored or alluded to??
Annoint Aharon and his sons as Kohanim?? Didn't someone fall through the cracks? What happened to that Ben-Elazar?? How is it that, Pinchas, the son of Elazar, the son of Aharon is not a Kohen?? You see Pinchas, the son of Elazar was born in Mitzrayim before Yetziyat Mitzrayim, before Har Sinai, etc. The law pertained only to Aharon, his sons and their descendents from Har Sinai forward.
We all know the story of Bila'am, the Ba'al Peor, the obscene method of worshipping the idol, how the Moabite Women enticed the men of B'nai Yisrael to avodah zorah, the affair of Zimri and Cosbi, the plague which took the lives of 10's of thousands of Jewish men and Pinchas's Zealous Kiddush Hashem in killing Zimri and Cosby, thus ending the plague, with one fell swoop. We all learn from Parsha Pinchas that the act was not a popular one. Many of the "Am" (the people) wanted Pinchas to be tried and executed.
But, HaKodosh Borchu conveyed upon Pinchas the Kehunah and Eternal life as reward for his Zealousness and steadfastness to Torah principle.
Today, as in the day of Mordechai and Esther, we've got our Contemporary Hamans -- not just Arafat, Assad Jr., Iran, Sada'am Hussein, and yes, even Mubarak too. And do we not include the conniving Shimon Peres or Mitzna or perhaps even Prime Minister Sharon?
Our Prime Minister seems to perceive that his political preservation; his survival in light of numerous corruption scandals involving himself and his sons, his place in history and his continued self-aggrandisement all depend on his willingness to compromise Torah principles which he is totally ignorant of; such as our our divine right to Eretz Yisrael -- Breish't Bora Elokim. He would exchange our beloved land, in a heartbeat, for getting off of the legal hook in Israel's leftist, Shinui, secular, anti-Torah Justice system. Our precious Eretz Yisrael is on the chopping block in exchange more empty, meaningless photo-ops, useless pieces of tissue paper and more and more Jewish blood and korbonot on the alter of the avodah zorah of our time, the bogus "Oslo process", now under numerous different names -- "Unilateral Seperation", "Security Fences", "Gaza and Outpost evacuations" and the "Roadmap", which Sharon just won't let die. And values, such as Pidyon Sh'vu'im -- doing everything possible to secure the release of Jonathan Pollard, are ravaged while these Am Dismantlement Losers release hundreds of blood-stained terrorists to secure the release of Elchanan Tannenbaum because he's a "good ole' boy." Never mind all of the state secrets that Tannenbaum may have compromised or that he possibly had protexia as high up as the Prime Minister.
And many of our other "Jewish leaders", as equally corrupt as the Prime Minister, dutifully follow, bowing and prostrating themselves before the surrenderist avodah zora and other ancillary avodah zorah, i.e., Arab workers at the expense of huge Jewish unemployment, Shabbat commerce, civil marraiges, gay unions, etc. Oh, that we would be on a level to merit that such as Rav Chaim Zev HaLevy, Sh'lita would lead us according to Torah Derech.
And so, we must strive and aspire to reach a high level of perfection of Mitzvot, of Chessed, of Tzedakah, of Ahavat Chinom for our fellow Jews on all levels -- personal, business, learning, b'derech etc. And for us to reach this high level of perfection, we must take each Derech beyond the Beit Knesset, beyond the the Beit Medrash, and into every aspect of our interaction with our fellow Jews. To exhibit these attributes merely in the world of Ruchnious is not sufficient. We must manifest this derech; plain, old honesty -- Hillel -- on one foot; doing unto others as you would have them do unto you in the physical world. Our derech must be the same adherence to principle as that exhibited by Mordechai, who would not bow to any other mortal or diety -- only Hashem and by Pinchas who defended the honor of Hashem with zealousness and principle.
By the way, by manner of design in writing this D'var Torah, I've held off until the conclusion, revealing my son's hebrew name -- Pinchas Ariel ben Moshe HaKohen. (Derivation is the subject for a different shmooze.)
If we will ALL intensify our Derech, Torah principle and our other Mitzvot so that each day we accept Yiddishkeit as if we were all Ger'im and as if Yiddishkeit were brand new, then we'll be zocha to have our Tefillah reach Shemayim, unimpeded, ungarbled. As Rabbi Moshe Ungar would say each Thursday evening at his Gemara Shuir back in Phildelphia, in "the old country", that then we'll be zocha to demand, compel Hashem to do "what he wants to do, to bring us the Moshiach and the Ge'ula Shlaima, bim hay v'yameinu -- speedily, in our time", like Achshav -- IMMEDIATELY, Chik Chuk, Meiyad, Etmol !!!
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