Tuesday, March 13, 2012

316 - Tetzaveh - Zachor

There is a most interesting Medrash Tanchuma in Parshas Ki Saitzei which states as follows: "We find that just as the Torah commands us 'remember the Shabbos,' so too, the Torah commands us 'remember Amaleik.' However, despite the fact that we are to remember both the Shabbos and Ameleik, they cannot be equated in any manner. This can be compared to a king who made a banquet and invited many guests. When the delectable, plentiful food was placed before him, he declared, 'Remember Plony my beloved.' When they cleared away the dishes the king declared, 'Remember Plony my enemy.' His friends questioned him as to how he could equate his friend and enemy for remembrance. He responded, 'My friend was remembered upon a bountiful plate, while my enemy was remembered upon an empty plate.' Similarly, one is to 'remember Shabbos in order to sanctify it' and honor it with food, drink and fine clothing. In contrast the commandment to remember Amaleik was said upon an empty plate - in conjunction with their destruction."

Rav Wolbe (Da'as Shlomo, Geulah pg. 215) explains this Medrash beautifully. Chazal referred to Shabbos as being bountiful and filled with goodness. This is an appropriate description, since Shabbos unites the body and soul. When one honors the Shabbos with food, drink and nice clothing, he has succeeded in transforming the physical into the spiritual and achieved the purpose of creation.

In contrast, Amaleik symbolizes an "empty plate." The Zohar tells us that they scorned the Torah and bris milah, i.e. they placed a distinct demarcation between their bodies and their souls. The physical remains mundane and is never elevated to a loftier level.

However, only after one 'remembers' and appreciates the "bountiful plate" of Shabbos, can he 'remember' and destroy the "empty plate" of Amaleik. We find this concept articulated by Chazal elsewhere. They tell us that Shlomo Hamelech was able to declare that all is vain since he was so fabulously affluent that he "paved the streets of Yerushalayim with gold and silver." Had he been a pauper and made the above declaration, everyone would counter that it isn't proper that one who has never earned more than a few pennies should declare that all is vain. Likewise, only after one has appreciated the Shabbos and experienced the transformation of the physical into the spiritual, can he deride and destroy the emptiness of Amaleik.

Purim is a most appropriate time to demonstrate these ideals. It is the Yom Tov on which we are commanded to eat, drink and be merry - but with the intention of elevating ourselves and those around us to higher spiritual levels. We must ensure that our Purim is celebrated with "a bountiful plate filled with abundant goodness" and not with "an empty plate."

No comments: