Tuesday, February 24, 2015

462 - Beshalach

After Bnei Yisrael's war against Amalek, Hashem told Moshe that ultimately "He will obliterate the memory of Amalek from under the Heavens" (Shemos 17:14). The parsha then ends with Moshe's declaration, "For the hand is on the throne of Hashem: Hashem maintains a war against Amalek for generation to generation." Rashi explains that Hashem, so to speak, "raised His hand and placed it on His throne" and swore to maintain a constant war against Amalek since neither the Name of Hashem nor His throne will be complete until Amalek is destroyed.

What does it mean that Hashem's Name and throne are not complete? Could it be that Hashem is lacking in some way? Rav Wolbe (Shiurei Chumash, Beshalach 17:16) explains that Hashem's throne symbolizes the abode that we are intended to prepare for Him in this world, whereby His omnipotence and glory will be revealed to all, which is the very purpose of creation. When this is accomplished, His Name will be complete because all will recognize His supremacy. However, as long as Amalek exists, they are a constant impediment to achieving this goal. 

Amalek personifies the trait of azus - brazenness. Azus is the ability to witness even earth shattering events and nevertheless completely disregard their significance. The entire world was awed by the awesome miracles of yetzias Mitzrayim and Amalek remained completely unaffected. Moreover, it seems that these events had the very opposite effect, for immediately thereafter, they came to wage war against G-d's chosen Nation. The very existence of such wicked brazenness is a cloud which obscures Hashem's revelation in this world. It is difficult to discern Hashem's omnipotence when such defiance of spirituality is present. With the ultimate destruction of Amalek, the cloud will dissipate, allowing for Hashem's Kingship to shine in all its glory. 

Indeed, Amalek's brazenness has enormous implications. Yet, continues Rav Wolbe, there is a flip side to this type of brazenness which is referred to as azus d'tumah. One can harness this trait of azus for positive spirituality and thereby sanctify this trait of "brazenness" by turning it into a holy boldness - an azus d'kedusha. Azus d'kedusha is the ability to do what one knows is proper even if the entire world thinks otherwise. The Mishna in Pirkei Avos (5:25) exhorts us, "Be bold like a leopard . . . to do the will of your Father in Heaven."

In the very first se'if in Shulchan Aruch, the Rema instructs us, "Do not be embarrassed by those who ridicule you because of your avodas Hashem." How many times do we refrain from acting as we know we should because of what people might say about us? "If I tell him that I'm not interested in hearing lashon hara, he will probably twist his nose at me in derision." Be bold and let him twist his nose. As a matter of a fact, even if the whole world twists their noses, it shouldn't change the way you act, because brownie points with Hashem are worth a whole lot more than brownie points with them!

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