Friday, September 16, 2011
"Remember what Amalek did to you on the way when you were leaving Mitzrayim" (Devarim 25, 17). Rashi tells us that they cut off the milahs and threw them toward the heavens. What exactly does this mean? Rav Wolbe (Shiurei Chumash) helps us decipher the intention behind Amalek's enigmatic actions.
The Zohar writes that the letters of the word "Beraishis" also spell out "bris aish" - a fiery covenant. A covenant is what joins two, often conflicting, interests, and unites them into a single force. Bnei Yisroel, through the mitzvah of bris milah, succeed in creating such a covenant. Their performance of this mitzvah unites physicality with spirituality; the body with the soul, and man with his Creator.
Amalek, on the other hand, stands in stark contrast to this unique characteristic of Klal Yisroel. Chazal tell us that the head of their patriarch, Eisav, is buried in Me'aras Ha'machpeilah alongside some of the greatest people who ever lived. How did he merit such an awesome honor? The answer is that in his head, Eisav was as great as our Avos. His comprehension of The Creator was on par with the greats of our nation. However, there was one thing lacking, and that was his ability to bridge the gap between body and soul. He did not translate his knowledge into actions, and his awesome level of spirituality remained in his head without ever being integrated into the rest of his body.
It was this trait of their forefather that Amalek wished to demonstrate when they threw the milahs heavenward. They lived their lives with a partition separating between the physical and the spiritual, and they had no interest in uniting the two. They took the bris milah - the representation of the unification of body and soul - and threw it Heavenward.
The avodah of a Yid is to take knowledge of the spiritual and translate it into physical actions. There is no better time to do this than the month of Elul. We all know, and we have heard it many times, Hashem is drawing closer to us during this month with the anticipation that we will draw closer to Him. Yet, have our actions expressed this knowledge? Have we shown Hashem in any way that we also would like to come closer to Him? Even the smallest step toward this end generates a tremendous amount of siyata dishmaya (Heavenly assistance), and aids us in reaping the benefits of Elul!