Insights and Inspiration
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
"Your friend in Karmiel"
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
"Your friend in Karmiel"
February 20th 2013 -Volume 3, Issue 20 –11th of Adar 5773
Parshas Tetzave/ Zachor
Where Am I?This week we have a strange conjunction of parshiyot. (Huhhh… where's the funny, personal anecdote or story that starts your weekly E-Mail… to draw me in... to get me to read the first few lines at least??? Don't worry its coming… stick with me we're having fun). We read Parshat Tetzave, a parsha filled with all the exciting details of the clothing of the Kohein, and we read Parshat Zachor- the Parsha read annually before Purim to remember that famous first battle against God and our eternal nemesis Amalek. Both of these Parshiyiot are always read before Purim and although they seemingly have nothing to do with each other, they both have a very important common denominator that relates to the upcoming holiday. Can you figure out what it is?
OK think for a minute or two… I'm sure you have come up with some ideas. But that's not why you come here each week. You’re here to know what I'm thinking. Or at least for some of the jokes or Youtube links or maybe even for some cool places in Israel, (definitely not to respond to my repeated appeals for money-can still contribute http://holylandinsights.blogspot.com ). So here's what I see as the very blatant and troubling connection between these two parshiyot. Neither one of them mentions my name. Yes, I know that must bother you, though probably not as much as me. Now the commentaries are very busy with other less important questions such as why Moshe's name is not found in the entire Parsha (the only one since he first came on to the scene until the end of the Torah). They also see a connection between the omissions of Hashem's name in the story of Purim in the Megilla as well. You can check out those commentaries or my blog (http://holylandinsights.blogspot.co.il/2012/02/its-good-to-be-da-king-parshat-tetzaveh.html - why not make a donation while you're there as well J ). The question that we need to deal with pre-Purim today though is where am I- Ephraim Schwartz- in this story?
Now some of you might suggest that since Parshat Tetzave is a Parsha that talks about fancy clothing, and all that know me know that is not necessarily one of my strong points. I can barely keep a shirt clean from coffee stains for a day; forget about keeping it tucked in. So it is in fact quite appropriate that my name is hidden from this Parsha. Additionally, you might say, that since memory is not necessarily my strong point as well, I pass all questions of birthdays, ages of my children and anniversaries over to my better half, it is also would be quite understandable that my name not be mentioned in Parshat Zachor- the portion of remembrance. Those of you that are more astute though might point out that although my name is not mentioned, In Parshat Tetzaveh it does discuss the the Tour'im (spelling my own) of the rocks of the Choshen/breastplate and the megilla does discuss as well the Tour of each of the handmaidens and particularly the Tour of Esther Bas Avigayil Dod Mordechai ai ai ai which are both a reference, of course, to me being a tour guide. The story of Amalek also repeatedly mentions what happened Ba'Derech obviously on a tour leaving Egypt. Yet perhaps we can find something more inspirational and not as self-promoting as this E-Mail has become. Let us enter the realm of Megilat Esther- the revealing of the hiddenness…
It is interesting to note that the first battle against Amalek takes place under the leadership of Yehoshua who was indeed from the tribe of Ephraim. It is a fascinating thing that although Moshe was capable of pretty much singlehandedly bringing down Hashem's wrath on Mitzrayim and destroying the world empire, when it comes to Amalek he chooses to utilize Yehoshua-until this point an unknown person. The Ibn Ezra explains even more mysteriously that it is precisely because Yehoshua came from the tribe of Ephraim that he was chosen. Because within Ephraim is the power to destroy Amalek.
Who is Ephraim and where does his name come from. The Torah tells us that when Yosef is in Egypt he names his younger son Ephraim- Ki Hifrani Hashem Bi'Eretz Onyi- Hashem has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction. The commentary of the Ba'alei Tosfos shares with us a deeper dimension to this name, suggesting that Yosef names his son after the two "ashes/Efer"- Efrayim being two. The first is Ash is Avraham who upon pleading for the people of Sodom described himself as Afar V'Efer- dust and ash. The second ash was Yitzchak who although was never actually sacrificed or burnt on the altar that his father bound him upon- yet in the spiritual world it is considered as if Afro Munach Li'fanei- His ash is placed before me. Rav Moshe Shapiro notes the significance of this in quoting a medrash on the words of Zachor Es Asher Asa Lecha Amalek- Remember the two remembrances (to destroy the memory of Amalek and to remember what they have done) as it says in Iyov/Job 13:12 " Zichroneichem mishlei Efer -your remembrances are like ashes". The Medrash explains homiletically "If you are like Avraham who was compared to ashes then you will merit (to succeed)". The key to the battle of Amalek is our memory of that comparison to the ashes our ancestors compared themselves to; the ashes for which the tribe of Ephraim are named.
Rav Shapiro elaborates and explains that the difference between dust and ash is that dust has no past, but it can be used to build and create a future with. Ash, on the other hand, comes from something with a past but has no future. Avraham and Yitzchak, upon whose merit we are sustained by and who created the foundation of the Hashem's presence in this world and in our holy nation, could have felt a tremendous amount of fulfillment and accomplishment in their lives. Yet instead they understood that they are merely ash, all that they have done in the past does not exempt them from what they have still to do in the future. They are like ash-who still need to accomplish and can do nothing without Hashem. Avraham said that he is dust in that his life must be focused on establishing and building a future and his past is irrelevant. At the same time after all of his accomplishments they understood that what they had done gave them no surety on the future. There was no pension plan. They were ashes without the help of Hashem and they had to build again on that faith anew.
Yosef names his son Ephraim, as well for that reason. For although he certainly accomplished a tremendous amount, saving Egypt, rising from the depths to a place of prominence in Egyptian society at the same time maintaining his spiritual connection to his father's heritage and even raising his holy children to be equals to the tribes of Israel, he still understood that it is Hashem who made him fruitful. He wanted his son to know that all that he built was with that sense of appreciation that we are merely ash-but for the help of God.
The nation of Amalek that comes to destroy the Jewish people, the verse tells us, attacks us when we are weak. Why would we be weak? Didn't we just leave Egypt and destroy the world Empire? One would think we would be at our strongest and most resolute. We probably felt that we could conquer the world. But that is precisely what Amalek was banking on. We had forgotten that we are nothing without Hashem. It was for this reason that Moshe called up the emergency measures. His Navi Seal (excuse the pun). This was a battle for Yehoshua, from the tribe of Ephraim, to remind us that we are merely ash. When we looked up to Moshe's raised hands and our eyes were directed to heaven we were able to win. When we looked at our hands, we lost.
It is interesting to note that in the Temple the first act that the Kohein would do dressed in his regular and royal priestly garments each morning was to take the ashes from the previous days sacrifices and place them by the ramp leading up to the altar for all to see. As opposed to when he would take the overload of ash outside of the camp to dispose of and he would change his garments, the first placement was done in his original clothing. The message Rav Hirsh suggests was so that the Kohein would understand that all of his royalty and his having been chosen for the service of God is built on the foundations of the ashes of our ancestors sacrifices. The clothing are merely accoutrements that cloak the foundation of Afar V'Efer; an overwhelming and humbling sense of humility, the two ashes of Ephraim.
The story of the Purim as well, finds its turning point as Mordechai and the Jewish people tear their outer clothing and place ash-Efer upon themselves. As we looked death, Haman and Amalek in the eye from our once comfortable exile in Persia, we were reminded of how much we need Hashem to accomplish all that we are we meant to. Hashem's name was not present in the Megilla, because we did not see it. Yet it is there. It is at every turn of events that our ashes and recognition merited us to see. Hashem's name was found within us, just as our names can only be found when we are connected to Him. It is only after we appreciate and remember how essential that connection is to our core…to our names, that we can vanquish Amalek and we can erase their name that stands in the way of the completion of God's name from the earth. Then, as Mordechai did so long ago, we can once again wear our clothing of royalty and holiness once again.
As we approach the holiday of Purim it behooves all of us in the midst of the joy of Purim to find our place in the Torah. Where can we be found? What is our place in our fantastic history and heritage? Ask ourselves what role we will play in our glorious destiny? Hashem is waiting for us to rise up from the ashes. He is looking to build us up once again to the nation that we were meant to become. May this Purim be that final turnaround from exile to redemption.
Have a memorable Shabbos filled with joy and cheer,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz******************************
RABBI SCHWARTZ FAVORITE CLIPS OF THE WEEK
One of my all type favorites (thanks to Rabbi/Major/Chaplain/Rock Star Friedman Esq who turned me on to this song) it is the holy of the holies. Listen to it ten times and you still will wonder…
Shlock Rock Purim favorites
Purim Grogger style
(for those of you that can stand more gangnam)
RABBI SCHWARTZES TOUR GUIDE COURSE QUESTION OF THE WEEK
Where did the aquaduct to Herodium begin?
(a) Solomon's Pool's
(c) Bat Ayin
(d) Nahal Haritun
Herodion- This incredible building of King Herod in this seemingly non-strategic or particularly significant part of the country, typifies Herods monuments. He built to glorify himself and he also suffered severe paranoia. It was here when he fled to Rome from the Parthians that he was saved miraculously and like many of the places where he built he built here to commemorate his victory. He also chose this as his place of burial. However since he was fearful that not too many would want to visit his grave. He built beautiful pools, a theater that would seat hundreds and magnificent bath houses. Also to insure that no one should celebrate when he died he ordered all the jewish prisoners (he hadn't managed to kill) to be killed fortunately they were all spared.
After Herod the Jewish Revolt as well as the later Bar Kochva revolt used this fortress as base against the Romans. Transforming the palaces and lounges to mikvas, secret tunnels and living quarters as well as one of the earliest synagogues from the 2nd temple period. In 2007 after years of searching Ehud Netzer discovered the tombs of Herod, tragically Ehud fell off a bridge there while excavating and died there himself. Today one can have a great day in Herodion climbing through the tunnels and visiting the ruins of Herods ancient palace. On Tisha'a B'Av as well each year thousands gather to recite kinos as the temple mount is visible from here.
RABBI SCHWARTZ QUOTE OF THE WEEK
"People who fight fire with fire usually end up with ashes."- Abigail Van Buren
Answer is A- Herodium was built by King Herod south of Jerusalem around the same time that he built the temple. The water aquaducts came from the pools of Shlomo by Bethlehem where they also went to the Har Habayit for service in the Beit Hamikdash.