Rabbi Zvi Teichman
Nothing but The Truth!
The reading this week of the second of the four parshiyos, Zachor, follows that of Shekalim, which was read two weeks ago.
On Zachor we read a passage at the end of Ki Seitzei, where the Torah outlines the command to remember what Amalek did to us yet when we first left Egypt, and the obligation to obliterate any memory of them.
The passage immediately preceding Zachor discusses the imperative to maintain honest and accurate weights — משקלות, and measures. The juxtaposition of these passages teaches us that if you use fraudulent measures and weights, you should be worried about provocation from the enemy. (
Is this parallel coincidental? שקלים, the half-shekel coins we are obligated to give, is read about prior to the portion of Zachor, justas the paragraph that deals with משקלות, weights, comes right before the command of Zachor. These coinsare called shekalim, rooted in the word שקל, because of the requisite משקל, weight, of silver contained within them.
Why is this sin of dishonesty in weights specifically the one transgression that spurs the provocations of Amalek against us?
Weights are instruments that are used to measure the properties of many items and their true value. Cheating with one’s weights and utilizing the very item that is to be the yardstick for authenticity, in deceiving others, is not simply a violation of another’s monetary rights by stealing from them, it is the very negation of our very essence, of who we are — representatives of truth and all that is genuine and real.
Amalek is the nation that stands for nothing and has no identity or set of truths they live by. They merely seek to exist without any need for definition. They are the antagonists of those who claim to live by a higher reality that grants them authenticity.
When they attacked us in the desert after the death of Aharon we are taught they disguised themselves as Canaanites by speaking in the language of Canaan, in order to delude us into praying to save us from the Canaanites, when indeed they were Amalekites, foiling the efficacy of our prayers.
Why didn’t they disguise themselves more effectively by also wearing Canaanite clothing?
The holy Reb Yitzchok of Vurka answers that if the vacuous nation of Amalek — who stands for nothing and are merely identified by their externals affects — were to don Canaanite garb they would de facto become Canaanites!
The moment we lose our allegiance to ‘truth’, we become susceptible to their provocations.
It is fascinating that Amalek is symbolized, not by a drive to overtake our land, nor by an ambition to strut its might, but simply by its desire for ‘provocation’. They just want to disturb our universe, our claim to an authentic and meaningful life we allege can only be achieved when we stick to the truth that we know to be the ‘ultimate’ one.
Their mission is to attempt in shaking our beliefs in ourselves and the special role we play. At every juncture where we seem to be living peacefully, they rear their heads in disturbing that confidence. Whether it was after we left on a high at the exodus from Egypt, or in the desert where we lived securely under the protective Clouds of Glory, or in the days of Haman when we thought we had an unassailable and respected position within Persian society, Amalek ‘provokes’ us in declaiming our unique relationship with the ‘truth’.
In our role as Hashem’s chosen, even in the absence of a physical Amalek, we are plagued by the invisible forces of Amalek — the circumstances of our life that often challenge our premises of comfort, direction, and purpose that we take for granted.
We must constantly be vigilant in ‘weighing’ accurately our choices in life against the backdrop of our beliefs, our teachings, and our confidence in the missions we each strive to.
When we maintain precise ‘weights’, seeking the Torah’s truth, as best as we understand it, with honesty, absent of bias and ulterior motives, that is when the negative influences of Amalek will be quelled.
My dear friend, Dr. Edo Lavi shared with me a personal story with a vital lesson he learned from a non-Jew.
During his years at Orthodontic school he befriended a non-Jewish colleague, T.J., who shared many of his values. They often shunned the social get-togethers of the other classmates that many a time crossed the lines of their comfort zones. A mutual admiration and friendship developed.
Years later Dr. Lavi and his family made Aliyah. Edo proudly shared the actualization of this lifelong dream with T.J.. In a bittersweet farewell T.J. expressed awe and admiration for his dear friend’s estimable undertaking, wishing him only the best.
They maintained their friendship over the years that Edo and his family were living in Israel and T.J. even visited with them twice, with T.J. often expressing his esteem for his pal’s courageous decision and great merit to live in the ‘Holy Land’.
Seventeen very successful years later circumstances warranted the Lavi family’s relocation back to the States.
Edo, somewhat sheepishly, informed his buddy of the unhappy ‘ending’ to his big dream.
T.J. sensed Edo’s embarrassed confession. He then told him something that would change his perspective one hundred and eighty degrees.
Firmly looking Edo squarely in the eyes, he said, “There is no need for apologies or shame. The same determination and pursuit of truth that lead you to your decision seventeen years ago, is what drove you even more so in your decision to return. One who pursues what he believes in, deliberating and ‘weighing’ his decision in the light of the honest and unbiased truth of the Torah and G-d you believe in, is the very same hero in my eyes as you were those many years ago!”
When we falter, Amalek and its minions ‘provoke’ us. But when we seek the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, we will finally eradicate Amalek once and for all.
The earth shattering events the world is experiencing currently leave us wondering what lies ahead. What will be the ripple effects on the relative peace the world had been experiencing? What impact will it have on the world economy?
Much time is spent analyzing the politics, second guessing this madman’s mental health, and worrying about the fate of the world.
During the first World War the Gerrer Rebbe, the Imrei Emes, spent a Shabbos Sheva Brachos in one of the local towns. After Shabbos he observed how the townsfolk were engaged in heated discussion and debate regarding the harrowing events taking place, desperately trying to grab on to any piece of news they could get their hands on.
He turned to them and quoted the words of the great Rebbe of Vurka.
“Chazal say that if you see nations warring with each other look towards the footsteps of Moshiach. This is not a sign; it is a directive. Don’t waste your precious time and energy discussing the strategies or politics of the situation. Ponder instead the goal of the days of Moshiach, when the world will finally understand that all their attempts for dominion were driven by misguided egos and by blind thirst for power, in total negation of an expressed will of the Creator who maneuvers history according to a greater plan.
We should rather examine our priorities by accurately weighing how much we are living up to that noble plan and are promoting it in each of our decisions in our daily lives.”
Let us not be provoked and susceptible to the attacks and influences of Amalek from living inspired by the pure truth we have been gifted and entrusted with.
May we be moved by the words that still ring in our ears.
They shall all come to serve You; they shall bless Your glorious Name and declare Your righteousness in far-flung lands… They shall accept the yoke of Your Kingship upon themselves and exult You among the assembled people. Distant ones will hear and come, and they will present You with a crown of Kingship!