Our view of the Galile

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

It's Good to be Da King -Parshat Tetzaveh/ Zachor

Insights and Inspiration
from the
Holy Land
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
"Your friend in Karmiel"
 March 1st  2012 -Volume 2, Issue 17 –7th of Adar 5772

Parshas Tetzaveh/Zachor
“It’s Good to be da King”

Hey, it’s almost Purim so I’m allowed to quote from Mel Brooks. If you can’t identify the title quote though you might be either too young or too religious to be reading this E-mail and might probably want to go find something else maybe on Torah.org. Because this one ain’t changing anytime soon. It’s good to be da king …at least over my own personal e-mail.

In truth I believe there is this deep seated King complex in each of us. One that is usually cured by a few weeks or months of marriage, or for some really quick learners like me it was a few hours. (Or maybe that was because I had a quick teacher.)Yet somehow this complex continues to seek to express itself in various other areas of our life. “My office is my palace” some friends of mine say. “My work is my kingdom” others have told me (don’t work for them). All I got is a little "throne room" with a sink off my bedroom. Yet there is something to be said for viewing oneself as a king. There is perhaps even a divine part of each of us, created in the ultimate Almighty King’s image, which wishes to leave its imprint on its own unique fiefdom. That wishes to leave a mark upon the part of this world that we might even be able to call and distinguish as our own.

I recently noted this instinct quite vividly when I visited NY recently. In fact every subway station declared itself in spray paint to be the kingdom of someone else. It seems in Israel most places belong to this Na Nach Nachman guy J. The truth is one doesn’t have to go to NY  or Tzefat to appreciate this concept. Any visit to an art museum will find the signature or imprint of its artist or sculptor. A music fan will be able to distinguish their favorite musician’s style and songs. A film critic can tell you who the director is, and an avid reader who is the author of the novel he is reading just by recognizing its distinctive style. For that matter most fortunate people who have visited our Shul would be able to discern the incredible chef of the best chulent in the world, by the heavenly flavor it exudes and tantalizes the masses with, as its smell wafts throughout the shul Shabbat morning and its taste whets the palates and fantasies of many (run on sentence, sorry, but I skipped lunch today). Yes we each have our kingdom and because we view it as such we put our energy into personalizing it so our imprint will be remembered and recognized as our own.

This week in addition to the regular Torah reading of Tetzaveh we read the additional special supplementary portion of Parshat Zachor, a Parsha of remembrance or non remembrance.

Wipe out the memory of Amalek from under the heavens don’t forget.

This evil nation was the first that attacked the Jewish people and is dedicated to challenging the supremacy of Hashem in this world.

For the hand is on the throne of Hashem a war against Amalek from generation to generation.

and as Rashi explains God’s throne so to speak is not complete as long as Amalek exists and creates doubt playing on the fears and weakness of men.(incidentally the numerological value of his name Amalek= Safek doubt). So we wipe out his name and his descendants (Haman) so that they should not have any memory left

What I have always found ironic though is that generally the Parsha read before Purim is Tetzaveh which our commentaries point out is the only portion where Moshe's name is not to be found from the time he is born through the entire Torah. So the week when we read the parsha about remembering to erase the name of Amalek we also read the only Parsha with the name of Moshe "erased" from it.

If you think that is just coincidental than a) you are clearly not ready enough for Purim yet so have a little drink and b) you haven't noticed that this happens again. In the reading of the Megilla. Sort of. For on Purim when we pull out our graggers, blow horns, fog horns, noise makers, cap guns, machine guns, whatever your pleasure is, and drown out and practically fulfill and erase the name of Haman that most famous Amalekite descendant. We also interestingly enough, find seemingly absent or erased someone else pretty holy; Hashem the king. What happened to the king? What happened to leaving your imprint?

Now in both instances what is also interesting to note is that although not mentioned by name both figures are alluded to in their respective portions. The portion of Tetzaveh begins
 And You shall command the children of Israel
the you being a reference to Moshe. And in the Megilla we are told that every reference to "The King- HaMelech" in the story which is usually and simply understood as King Achashveirosh is also (or really) referring to the Almighty, the real King. {This makes for a very fun and deep reading by the way, much better than listening to Beatles tapes backwards.}

The Lubavitcher Rebbe suggests that perhaps the idea of the absence of the name of Moshe is because a name is sometimes too limiting. A name is a reference point for which other can call you by. But it really can't capture the truest essence of the depth and impact of ones soul. Moshe's  name was erased the commentaries explain as a result of when he was asking God to forgive the Jewish people he stated that
 "If you do not forgive them, than erase me from your book".
 This statement, although the Jewish people were forgiven, was still fulfilled in this Parsha. Yet perhaps it is not a punishment rather a reflection of the act of Moshe. Moshe in his willingness to give up his entire existence, his signature and his imprint as the bearer and transmitter of the Torah, by his readiness to have his name removed on behalf of the forgiveness of his people, superseded his name. He became one with his people and transcended any titles. We may not write Moshe's name in the parsha but it is merely to show that when God says "Hey You, command the Jewish people" in the Torah  the one that God calls "you" is Moshe.

The same message is in the Megilla as well. Yes Hashem's name is not explicit in the entire story, but is there another real King running the show? Do you really think that when it says the king did this and the king did that it is really that loser Achashveirosh? On Purim we realize there is only one true HaMelech-one true King we don't even have to name him for when we say King we know who we are talking about.

  We read these messages this week, the week of Zachor the week we wipe out the memory of Amalek. Because what is Amalek? Amalek and Haman are the ones out there saying there is no King, you cannot transcend yourself, you cannot make a meaningful  impact on this world because it's all by chance it's all a lottery; a Pur. Their fate is that we wipe out their memory. For if your entire existence is about denying a meaningful life without any possibility of a connection to the Eternal and the spiritual. Than ultimately your fate will be the obsolescence you worship.

So on Purim we channel that natural Divine instinct for kingship. Some of us even dress up like Kings, others toast L'Chaims to express our transcendent and High inner longings. We become kings for a day even in our exile, even when we're not. But at least for one day we understand and express how good it is to be a king to have that special life of Mitzvot that give our acts meaning. Yet we also realize something even more important Yes, it is good to be a king, but more importantly it is even better to know that we have a King. Ein Od Milvado -there is none other than Him.
Have a Good Shabbos and spectacularly joyous Purim,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz

This weeks Insights and Inspiration has been sponsored by the Schreiber family our newest Olim to Karmiel from Cincinatte in appreciation of all the families that assisted them with for all the hospitality, meals, rides and warmth that they received as they moved into the neighborhood.
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Atlit- As you make your way up the coast of Israel a little before Haifa one can visit the historic refugee camp of Atlit for an experience in what true dedication to come to Israel felt like. After WWI when many jews assisted the British in fighting against our common enemy and they were promised with the Balfour declaration a Jewish State. The British reneged on their deal creating the infamous White paper limiting Jewish immigration to Israel. But we were not to be stopped illegal boats smuggling in jews brough thousands of Jews home. Yet many were stopped and captured by the British and kept in this camp to be sent to Cyprus or other countries that wouldn’t take.
As one walks through the camp one can see the showers and sanitation centers that they first came to and can imagine how those who had just experienced the horrors of the holocaust must have viewed these barbed wire chimney stacked rooms. One can view the barracks where they stayed and see the graffiti on the wall of survivors looking for the relatives. A small hike to the shore brings the visitor to a recreation of one of the many refugee boats where you can watch a super short film experiencing what the trip and conditions were like for those who smuggled into Israel. At the end of the tour one can visit the room where they have computerized archives of those that were in the camp as well as hearing the story of the famous breakout on October 1945 led by Yitzchak Rabin.

Marriage is when a man loses his bachelor degree and a woman gets her Masters-
(or as the megilla says- “Li’Hiyos Kol ish soreir BiBeiso”-not.


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