VORTIFY YOURSELF


From
Rabbi Yosil Rosenzweig
e-mail yosilr@juno.com

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PARSHA VAYIKRA

Torah Reading Vayikra (Leviticus) 1:1 - 5:26
S HA B B A T Z A C H O R
Devarim (Deuteronomy) 25:17 - 19
Haftorah - I Samuel 15:2-34

Last week I asked you to find the source of a saying that I had used in the previous VORTIFY. Baruch Hashem (Bless Hashem), some of you (Rabbi Neal and Carol Rose, Rabbi Arlene Schuster, Eric Mack, Norman Abramson and Rabbi Jeffrey Ableser) responded with the famous quote from Ahad Ha'am (Asher Zvi Ginzberg 1856-1927) "More than the Jew has kept the Shabbat, the Shabbat has kept the Jew." Dr. Laurence Kutler thought that the text that inspired Ahad Ha'am was from Shemot (Exodus) 31:16-18:

"And the Children of Israel shall keep the Shabbat, to make the Shabbat an eternal covenant for their generations. It is an eternal sign between me and the Children of Israel..."

I thank all of you who responded and I am delighted that so many of you send me your comments on a regular basis.

Happy Purim,
R.Y.R.

The Shabbat before Purim is called Shabbat Zachor (the Shabbat of remembering what Amalek did to us), therefore we remove two Sifrei Torah (Torah scrolls) from the Ark. From the first we read seven Aliyot from this week's Parsha of Vayikra, and the final Aliyah (Maftir) is read from the second scroll, from the book of Devarim 25:17 - 19.

The book of Vayikra begins in an unusual manner. The last letter of the first word "VAYIKRa" (And He [Hashem] called to Moshe) is spelled with a small letter "Aleph." There are many commentaries on this phenomenon. Rashi comments that the small Aleph signifies Moshe's virtuous humility.

The Torah is full of messages - some are apparent like the small Aleph in Vayikra and some are hidden. I share with you one of those messages from the Megillah (the scroll) of Esther.

Queen Esther invited both King Achashverosh and Haman to her first, and then a second banquet, during which she revealed Haman's treacherous plot and her true identity to the King; then Haman was hanged from the gallows. Mordechai was rewarded and he and Queen Esther arranged for the Jews to protect themselves from the anti-Semitic hoards on the 13th day Adar. In the process the ten sons of Haman were executed (Chapter 9:1-6).

Yet, Chapter 9:12-14 reads:

"... 'What is your request now? It shall be granted to you. What is your petition further? It shall be fulfilled.' Esther replied, 'If it shall please His Majesty, allow the Jews who are in Shushan to act tomorrow as they did today, and let Haman's ten sons be hanged on the gallows.' The King ordered this be done. A decree was distributed in Shushan, and they hanged Haman's ten sons."

Interestingly, in the Megillah (Chapter 9:7-10), each son of Haman is mentioned on a separate line and among all the letters comprising their names, four unusual letters stand out. Three letters are written smaller than normal and one letter is larger:

    1. the letter "Taf" in Parshanda"t"ah (is small),
    2. the letter "Shin" in Parma"sh"tah (is small),
    3. the letter "Zayin" in Vay"z"tah (is small), and
    4. the letter "Vav" in "V"ayzatah (is large).

Why did the letters change from the accepted size and proportions? And if the sons of Haman were hanged in verses 7-10, why did Esther request that they be hanged again in verse 14? These two questions were answered at a Aish Hatorah Discovery seminar a few years ago,

First of all, let me mention that the Megillah is unusual because the Name of Hashem does not appear even once in this book. The commentaries point out that sometimes the Megillah makes a reference to Hamelech Achashverosh (the king Achashverosh) and at other times reference is made only to Hamelech (the King). Whenever the word Hamelech is used alone, it also means Hashem, the King of kings.

Queen Esther was not only asking King Achashverosh for the ten sons of Haman to be hanged, she asked the King of kings to also hang 10 accomplices of another Haman at some future time in history. How do we see this?

The Hebrew alphabet can be used for gematria (numerology). Each letter is assigned a numeric value;

Aleph equals 1, Bet equal 2 and so on until Yod, which equals 10.

Then the next ten letters skip to digits of 10; Chaf equals 20, Lamed equals 30 and so on until Kof, which equals 100. Then the next few letters take on powers of 100; Resh equals 200, Shin equals 300 and the final letter, Taf equals 400.

The single largest numeric letter equals only 400. Combinations of letters equate to a specific numeric value.

The present year is 5757 (calculated from creation). The letters that represent this equation are Taf (400), Shin (300), Nun (50) and Zayin (7). However, these letters only add up to 757; the year of the millennium is assumed, otherwise, an exceedingly large group of letters would be necessary to equal 5,000.

Returning to the large and small letters in the names of Haman's sons. The large Vav (equals 6) signifying the 6th millennium (from the years 5001 to 6000). The remaining 3 letters - Taf (400), Shin (300), and Zayin (7) - equal 707 of the 6th millennium, or, the year 5707.

Esther was asking the King of kings to allow the 10 accomplices of a future Haman to be sent to the gallows in the year 5707. The Zohar, a mystical commentary on the Torah records that:

"...On the 7th day of the Sukkot (Tabernacles) festival, the judgment of the nations of the world is finalized. Sentences are issued from the residence of the King. Judgements are aroused and executed on that day." (Zohar Vayikra - 31b)

Many of us celebrating Purim today equate Hitler with Amalek or Haman. On the 7th day of Sukkot, in the year 5707, corresponding to October 16th, 1946, the 10 aids to Hitler were hanged after being found guilty of crimes against humanity at the Nurenberg trials. Newsweek magazine (October 28, 1946, Foreign Affairs Section, page 46), ran a story on the hanging. The last paragraph describes the death of Julius Streicher:

"Only Julius Streicher went without dignity. He had to be pushed across the floor, wild-eyed and screaming: 'Heil Hitler!' Mounting the steps he cried out: 'And now I go to god.' He stared at the witnesses facing the gallows and shouted: 'Purimfest 1946'." !!

Parshat Vayikra begins with a small Aleph and for 3,000 years we knew that the small Aleph signified Moshe's humility and greatness. From the time that Mordechai and Esther authored the Megillah, these four letters, written out of proper proportion, had a very significant meaning, but it took 2,500 years for the meaning to be revealed to us.

The verses of Shabbat Zachor commands every man, woman and child to remember and also to never forget, what Amalek did to us as we left Egypt, how they attacked us from behind, murdered the weak, the feeble and the innocent. We must always remember Amalek and his ways every time that he raises his head in history. And, we must never forget that secretly encoded in the Torah is the predestined downfall of Amalek that only can be revealed in hindsight after his attempts are foiled.

Megillat Esther is the revelation of the hidden (Gilui Hanistar). Its story is glorious and terrible, joyous and tragic. Its true meaning is hidden, just as Hashem's Name is hidden. But the revelation of Hashem's name in the story of the Megillah and in our own day - is for us to find.

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Purim Samayach,

Rabbi Yosil Rosenzweig


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