Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Vayikra 5771

שבת טעם החיים ויקרא תשע”א

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Vayikra 5771

Take a Break and Get Rid of Amalek

ויקרא אל משה וידבר ה’ אליו מאהל מועד לאמר, He called to Moshe, and HaShem spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting, saying: (Vayikra 1:1)

In this week’s parasha the Torah states (Vayikra 1:1)ויקרא אל משה וידבר ה’ אליו מאהל מועד לאמר, He called to Moshe, and HaShem spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting, saying: Rashi writes that every time HaShem spoke to Moshe, He first called to him as an expression of affection. The Voice of HaShem reached Moshe’s ears and the Jewish People were not able to hear the Voice. One would think that even for the pauses (pauses refers to breaks in the text of the Torah reflected in blank spaces).  HaShem called to Moshe. For this reason the Torah states וידבר, and He spoke, to teach us that only when HaShem spoke did He call Moshe. For pauses, however, HaShem did not call Moshe. The purpose of the pauses was so that Moshe would have time in between each portion to contemplate what HaShem had taught him. If this was the case regarding Moshe, then certainly a commoner who learns from a commoner must pause between portions of what he has studied.

Let us understand the function of these pauses. It is noteworthy that the Gemara (Megillah 29a) states regarding the four parshiyos that are read in the month of Adar that there are years when we read Parsahas Shekalim and then the following week we take a pause and resume the following week by reading Parashas Zachor. What is the purpose of this break between Parashas Shekalim and Parashas Zachor? Rashi writes that the reason we break for one Shabbos is so that we read Parashas Zachor adjacent to Purim. The rationale for this is so that we juxtapose the eradication of Amalek to the eradication of Haman. Perhaps we can suggest an added dimension to the reason why we break between Parashas Shekalim and Parashas Zachor. Regarding the first battle against Amalek, it is said (Shemos 17:16) ויאמר כי יד על כס קה מלחמה לה’ בעמלק מדר דר, and he said, “For the hand is on the throne of G-d: HaShem maintains a war against Amalek, from generation to generation. Rav Yitzchak Hutner zt”l noted that in almost all instances in Scripture the expression of מדר לדר, from generation to generation, or דר ודר, generation and generation, is used. The notable exception is regarding the battle against Amalek, where the Torah states מדר דר without the letter ו, which serves as a connecting letter. The reason for this phenomenon, writes Rav Hutner, is because the connecting letter ו demonstrates that the generations are connected. Amalek’s mission was to sever this connection between the generations of Jews. For this reason it is said מדר דר, as Amalek did not want the Jewish People to be connected to previous generations of holiness and purity. Thus, Amalek reflects the idea of breaking away from the past. In contrast, HaShem taught Moshe that breaks serve the opposite function. One pauses in order to contemplate HaShem’s teachings and our mission in this world. The Jew’s purpose is to follow in the footsteps of his ancestors and to adhere to the Torah. It is said (Shemos 17:8) ויבא עמלק וילחם עם ישראל ברפידם, Amalek came and battled Israel in Rephidim. The Medrash states that when the Jewish People became weak in Torah study and mitzvah performance, Amalek arrived. The commentators write that the Evil Inclination, which is a reflection of Amalek, desires that a Jew does not stop to contemplate his actions. Rather, the Evil Inclination seeks to keep a Jew busy with all other involvements besides Torah study and mitzvah observance. The antidote to the Evil Inclination’s blandishments is to pause and contemplate our purpose in this world, which is serving HaShem through Torah study and mitzvah performance.

We can now understand why we break between Parashas Shekalim and Parashas Zachor. We pause to contemplate our obligation to Torah and mitzvos, and in this manner we can eradicate Haman, Amalek and the Evil Inclination, which are one and the same in their desire to prevent us from serving HaShem with thought and feeling.

In light of the fact that we are approaching Purim, it is worthwhile to add a caveat to the above mentioned idea. Rashi in the beginning of Vayikra writes that HaShem called to Moshe with an expression of affection, used by the angels, as it is said (Yeshaya 6:3) וקרא זה אל זה ואמר, and one would call to another and say. In contrast, HaShem revealed Himself to the gentile prophets with an expression of happenstance and impurity, as it is said (Bamidbar 23:4) ויקר אלקים אל בלעם, HaShem happened upon Balaam. When the Torah adjoins us to eradicate Amalek it is said (Devarim 25:17-18)זכור את אשר עשה לך עמלק בדרך בצאתכם מצרים אשר קרך בדרך ויזנב בך כל הנחשלים אחריך ואתה עיף ויגע ולא ירא אלקים, remember what Amalek did to you, on the way, when you were leaving Egypt, that he happened upon you on the way, and he struck those of you who were hindmost, all the weaklings at your rear, when you were faint and exhausted, and he did not fear G-d. Rashi writes that the word קרך means happenstance. Alternatively, the word קרך is a term of a seminal emission and impurity, as Amalek defiled the Jewish people with abominable acts. A third interpretation is that the word קרך means that Amalek called off the intensity of the Jewish People, as all the nations of the world were afraid to battle the Jews, and Amalek was brazen enough to ambush them upon their departure from Egypt.

These three interpretations of the word קרך teach us that Amalek does not believe in Divine Providence and holiness. Rather, Amalek subscribes to the world of happenstance and impurity, and Amalek has no respect for the fact that the Jewish People were chosen by HaShem as a light to all the nations. Amalek follows a life of happenstance, without giving thought or contemplation to ones actions. The Jewish People, however, are worthy of HaShem’s affection, as we connect the generations, contemplate our deeds, and we give יקר, glory, to HaShem and His Kingship. HaShem should allow us to merit that this year we will be worthy of HaShem’s miracles as He performed for us in the days of Mordechai and Esther. HaShem should bring us Moshiach Tzidkeinu, speedily, in our days.

Shabbos with the Sfas Emes and the Rebbes of Ger

The Gemara (Shabbos 118b) states that had the Jewish People only observed the first Shabbos in the Wilderness, no race or nation could have assailed them. This is derived from the fact that it is said (Shemos 16:27) ויהי ביום השביעי יצאו מן העם ללקוט ולא מצאו, it happened on the seventh day that some of the people went out to gather, and they did not find. Further on it is said (Ibid 17:8)ויבא עמלק וילחם עם ישראל ברפידם, Amalek came and battled Israel in Rephidim. Tosfos (Ibid) wonders why the Gemara states that it was the first Shabbos, as that Shabbos was not the first. The Imrei Emes suggests a novel approach to the word ראשון, first. There are instances when the word ראשון, first, can mean prior. Thus, the Gemara can be interpreted to mean that had the Jewish People observed the Shabbos prior to the arrival of Amalek, no race or nation could have assailed them. The Imrei Emes wonders further why the Gemara states that the Jewish People did not observe the Shabbos, if all they did was go out and look for manna without finding any. This teaches us, the Imrei Emes writes, that the Jewish People were lacking in their preparation of Shabbos. To battle Amalek the Jewish People required the power contained in the preparation for Shabbos, and had the Jewish People prepared properly, the Ultimate Rectification would have occurred. In the future, this will be rectified, and it is the Shabbos in the future that is the essential Shabbos.

Shabbos Stories

Rav Chaim Brim Refers To His Blank Notes
Horav Chaim Brim, zt”l was once invited to speak at an event.  The speaker who preceded R’ Chaim at the event used notes that he referred to as he spoke.  Rav Chaim was then called up to speak, and he also referred to his notes as he spoke.  When he finished speaking and left the podium, he forgot to take his notes with him. When the event was over, someone straightened up the room and he found the notes which R’ Chaim Brim had left at the podium.  To his puzzlement, he saw that the “notes” was a blank piece of paper.  After a few minutes of thought, he realized what had occurred. Rav Chaim was known for his exquisite sensitivity to the feelings of others.  When he had observed that the first speaker had referred to notes as he spoke, he had feared that he would embarrass him if he then spoke without notes.  Therefore, he decided to refer to his “notes” as he spoke as well.

Rav Hutner the Shadchan

Yaakov was the top bachur in his yeshivah.  He was known not only for his intellectual capabilities, but for his yiras Shamayim and refined middos as well.  Therefore, it was quite a surprise to everybody that Yaakov was having problems with shidduchim.  It wasn’t for lack of opportunities, since he had gone out on countless dates, but nothing ever seemed to materialize.  Yaakov was already in his late twenties, and he was beginning to despair.  A veil of sadness could be discerned beneath his normally happy disposition.

Despite his personal problems, Yaakov continued to learn with hasmada and was makpid on his sedarim.  However, one day he made an exception to his normally tight schedule to attend the bris of his chavrusa’s son in the Beis Medrash of the Gaon, HaRav Yitzchak Hutner, zt”l.  It was the first time since he had arrived at the yeshivah that he didn’t go directly to the yeshivah’s Beis Medrash after davening.

After the bris, the attendants crowded around Rav Hutner to greet him and receive a bracha.  Rav Hutner nodded to each person in greeting.  When Rav Hutner spotted Yaakov, he stared at him with his piercing gaze and whispered to him that Yaakov should meet him in his private office as he wished to speak with him. Apparently, Rav Hutner was able to discern Yaakov’s unspoken distress.

Yaakov stood by the door of Rav Hutner’s office, wondering what Rav Hutner could possibly wish to speak to him about.  A few minutes passed and Rav Hutner appeared, and ushered Yaakov inside his office.  The door closed, and Yaakov suddenly broke down.  His emotions from years of internalizing his sorrow and loneliness were released.  There was no need to explain – Rav Hutner understood everything.

Rav Hutner spoke, “I have a segulah, a mesorah from our rabbanim; answering Amen Yehei Shemei Rabbah with all one’s koach. Answering Amen Yehei Shmei Rabbah is a tefillah for the magnification of kavod Shamayim, and through it, one fulfills the mitzvah of kavod HaShem.  It’s possible that once in your life you were mechallel the shem Shamayim and due to this, the gates of Shamayim have been closed to you.  When you answer Amen, Yehei Shmei Rabbah loudly and with kavana, you are mekadesh the Shem Shamayim. This is a tested segulah – if you persist in following it, you’ll soon merit standing at the chuppah, and if you’ll continue afterwards, you’ll also merit a bris.”

Yaakov thanked Rav Hutner, left the office and returned to yeshivah.  On the way, he thought to himself that the eitzah of a Gadol Hador is not only a segulah, but also a horaah, and a horaah one must fulfill forever. When Mincha arrived, Yaakov already began to say Amen, Yehei Shmei Rabbah loudly and with kavana.  A few short weeks later, Yaakov became a chassan and a year later, he was zoche to a son.  Rav Hutner was honored with sandakus.    (Shiru  Lamelech) (

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Vayikra 5771

Have a wonderful and delightful Shabbos

Prepared by Rabbi Binyomin Adler

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