DIVREI YOEL PARASHAS TZAV / PURIM
1. As the Jews traveled through the midbar, they were protected from all harm by the Ananei Hakavod, the heavenly clouds of glory. This was truly an awe-inspiring display of Hashem's great love for the Jewish people. It showed everyone that Hashem watches over His treasured people with an extra measure of providence that comes directly from Him and not through an emissary. We even still enjoy a semblance of this today. The Torah tells us that Hashem constantly has His eyes, so to speak, on our Holy City of Yerushalayim; we are also told (Tehillim 34: 16), "The eyes of Hashem are toward the righteous...." This is a tremendous privilege that is ours exclusively. However, there is a catch. We cannot expect to remain in this wonderful, protected environment if we reject Hashem, chas v'shalom. The Satmar Rebbe, ZY"A, brings in Divrei Yoel (Tzav 143a), that any Jew who had a machshavah of avodah zarah or doubts in emunah was spat out by the Ananei Hakavod and attacked by Amaleik.
We can learn a very basic, but often overlooked, point through this teaching. None of us really wants to be infected with the poison of Amaleik, so we proclaim our trust and faith in Hashem. We live our lives like good, ehrliche Yidden, but if we really do not want to be infected by the tumah of Amaleik, we must go a step further. We must prevent even thoughts of heresy or doubts in emunah from entering our minds since we see that even these seemingly benign, non-actions can cause us to be unworthy of Hashem's special closeness and protection, which are essential in successfully warding off the attacks of Amaleik. But how can we prevent ourselves from falling into the trap of doubts? The Satmar Rebbe, ZY"A, said that the reason he constantly lambasted and decried the Zionist state and all its heretical activities, even though he had made his opinions clear on many occasions previously, was so that he himself would not fall into the trap of the heresy of Zionism. (Divrei Yoel, Michtavim, sec. 1 letter 69)
What an incredible statement! This should tell us two things. Firstly, we should learn how powerful the forces of heresy are, so powerful that the holy Satmar Rebbe was concerned that if he did not continually criticize the heretics, he might be swept along with their tide. The Rebbe was unique in his generation in every aspect. His face was the face of an angel! His wisdom in Torah was something entirely unlike anything with which we are familiar. His holiness and purity were beyond description. What can we say for ourselves?
Secondly, the Rebbe gave us a powerful insight into the "toolbox" of an uncompromising leader of Klal Yisroel. We must continue to cry out against the heresy of Zionism and all its components and off - shoots. This is the only way we can possibly be saved from falling into heresy, being expelled from the ananei hakavod, and, chas v'shalom, being finished off by Amaleik. We must take a lesson from Mordechai Hatzaddik, and even if we stand alone, always speak up against heresy, even when no one else will listen. If for no other reason than to save ourselves, we must continually decry evil and through this, we will merit the final, true redemption, speedily, in our days. Amein!
2. The Rebbe brings from the Chofetz Chaim that the Zionists are the true Amaleik. (Divrei Yoel Beha'aloscha 311, Al Hegeulah V'al Hatemurah Siman 61) Last week, we discussed how the Rebbe brings that the souls of the heretical Zionists have their root in Amaleik and the erev rav. In fact, the Rebbe takes this a step further. He quotes the Zohar that teaches that there were five different kinds of erev rav, one of them being Amaleik. The first letters of the names of the five types of erev rav form the words "NEGA RA". The Rebbe derives that not only are the souls of these heretics from Amaleik, but also their very bodies (brought to my attention by R' Yitzchok Kolakovsky). This seems a little strange at first glance. How could a physical body be changed through heresy?
Perhaps, we could explain as follows: The Gemara tells us that R' Yochanan was very beautiful. In fact, he was one of the most beautiful people who ever lived. In light of this, R' Yochanan would sit at the entrance to the mikvah, so that as the women were coming out they could gaze at him, and with this image in their minds, they would conceive children who would be as beautiful as he was. At a cursory glance, this Gemara is incomprehensible! To say that this Gemara is difficult to understand would be a monumental understatement! This does not seem like something very befitting of the great Tzaddik R' Yochanan. The Gemara in Nedarim (20) explains how crucial it is for a husband and wife to only think of each other when they are together. To be thinking of someone else is, on a non-literal level, equivalent to adultery, with terrible havoc wreaked upon the children conceived! Obviously, to say that this was R' Yochanan's intent on any level is nonsense and apikorsus.
Perhaps, there is a simple explanation. R' Yochanan's beauty was not physical. His beauty was purely spiritual, a facsimile of his neshama. This idea is supported by the fact that Chazal tell us that, as beautiful as R' Yochanan was, his beauty was incomplete due to his inability to grow a beard, and therefore, he lacked the spiritual beauty engendered by the growth of a beard. Hence, we can understand that the great, unfathomable holiness of R' Yochanan's neshama literally changed his physical appearance, so that when the women leaving the mikvah would gaze at him, they would be filled with an awesome fear of Hashem, and in this spirit, the children would be conceived. Through the holiness of their conception, these children were given an extra boost to become like R' Yochanan. Additionally, through the constant exposure to palpable holiness, the women themselves were changed for the better, becoming closer to Hashem and imbuing this enhanced spirituality into their entire family.
This perhaps sheds some light on the Rebbe's statement that the very bodies of the Zionist heretics were changed for the worse, L'havdil, to the point where their very bodies are rooted in Amaleik and the erev rav. Just like a Tzaddik can change his very appearance through his awesome holiness and purity, on the opposite end of the spectrum, the evil heretics can sink so low in denial of Hashem, chas v' shalom, that their very physicality is altered and exchanged for a satanical being. How sad it is for someone to sink so low, but fortunate is the one who sanctifies even his physicality.
A Litvish man was once seen staring at the Satmar Rebbe, ZY"A. When asked why he was doing this, he replied that his rosh yeshiva had told him that one can gain yiras shamayim simply by looking at the Satmar Rebbe's face. It is Tzaddikim like the Holy Satmar Rebbe, ZY"A, who radiate a beauty beyond description, a beauty generated by intense purity and Yiras Hashem. For those who merit seeing this shining light, there is infinite benefit by simply being in the presence of such a person --- a person who resembles an angel more than he resembles a mortal.
3. The Satmar Rebbe, ZY"A, sheds some light on the mitzvah of eradicating Amaleik. In Divrei Yoel (Beshalach 427), he explains that, in truth, the story of Amaleik's attack on the Jewish people in the midbar after they left Eygpt is not over. The Rebbe explains that these people have to come back in our time, and they will be waging a war against Moshiach. So even though we might think of Amaleik as an ancient story of the past that we remember this time of year, the truth is very different. Amaleik is real. Amaleik lives on today and attempts to infect us with his poison.
One of the very insidious tactics of the Amaleik of our times, the Zionists, is brought clearly by what the Rebbe says here. These Amalakim are fighting against Moshiach, but what is the mantra of the Zionists? That the state of Israel is somehow the beginning of the redemption. They proclaim this, while at the same time, through their actions, fight against and delay Moshiach.
Chazal tell us that Amaleik, through his impudent and fearless attack on Klal Yisroel, lessened the fear of Hashem possessed by all the other nations. Previously, all the nations had been in great awe of Hashem due to all the miracles he had performed for the Jewish People when they left Eygpt. Amaleik damaged this sense of awe and fear. As seen here, the forces of Amaleik have an incredible power to distort the thinking of people. It would only be natural for the nations to stand in awe and fear of Hashem, never dreaming of attacking His people, but Amaleik managed to distort these natural feelings. Amaleik's tumah pushed away logic. This is clearly evident today. So many Jews have fallen for the Zionist rhetoric that we now have a "Jewish state," that this is the beginning of the redemption, and that as Jews we should support the State of Israel. It is clear, however, to anyone who has open eyes that Israel is NOT a Jewish state. Israel is a Zionist state. The founders of the state had no connection to the Torah at all. David ben Gurion, the first Prime Minister of Israel, stated, "Religion is the national tragedy of the Jewish people." What a ridiculous statement! Our Holy Torah, through which we connect to Hashem, is the only thing that has kept us going after so many years of pain in exile. What makes us Jewish if not the Torah? So a state founded on heresy and denial of Hashem and His Holy Torah, R"L, can certainly not, in all honesty, be called a Jewish state.
This misconception, that Israel is a Jewish state that represents the Jews, is especially dangerous when dealing with international politics. When Benjamin Netanyahu comes to America and proclaims to speak in the name of all the Jews, he engages in terrible slander. Mr. Netanyahu does NOT represent the Jewish People. He represents Zionism. He comes as the leader of a nation established on heresy. He comes as a leader of a nation that denies and suppresses religious observance. He comes with blood on his hands --- the blood of the people who died as cannon fodder for his political agenda. This man is not a representative of Jews. He comes to America merely to provoke and antagonize. Mr. Netanyahu has not learned his history lessons. Chazal tell us that Achashveirosh hated the Jewish people even more than Haman. Yet we find that Mordechai Hatzaddik was always respectful to King Achashveirosh. It was never, and still is not the Torah-true path, to provoke the nations of the world. Rather, our Holy Father in Heaven has decreed exile upon us and adjured us with an oath not to rebel against the nations of the world (See Meseches Kesubos 111a).
We must not antagonize our host countries. This will only bring destruction, chas v' shalom. Let us, instead, emulate all the tzaddikim who understood how to act: do not rise up against the nations, do not force the end, and act with respect toward the leaders of the countries in which we live. By aligning our behavior with the example set for us by those worthy of emulation, we should merit the coming of the true Moshiach, speedily, in our days. Amein!
4. Rashi's first comment on this week's parashah is a very intriguing and insightful one. He tells us that "tzav" is implying an extra encouragement that the Kohen be vigilant in the service. Why is this extra encouragement needed? Here we are discussing the olah, from which the Kohen derives no benefit as this offering is burned entirely on the Mizbeach to Hashem. In light of this, there is a monetary loss to the Kohen (compared to many of the other korbanos, which are eaten in part by the Kohanim), and in a situation where there is a loss of money, an extra warning is needed.
The Parasha of the Korban Olah offers us a unique opportunity to understand great lessons which we must internalize in today's time. The Rebbe elaborates on this Rashi, teaching that in today's time, too, much encouragement and vigilance is needed where monetary loss is a factor. While in the Beis Hamikdash, we saw money put to its best use possible and brought to its greatest rectification through the divine service. Unfortunately, today we are in exile and no longer have the avodah of the Beis Hamikdash. To the contrary, we see money not only not being rectified in its spiritual source but also money that is impure. This impure money has such a strong draw, it takes a tremendous effort not to partake. The money that comes from the Zionists and their evil government is money of the lowest sort, something with which no Jew should have a connection. This money comes from the deepest depths of impurity. The Rebbe stresses this in Divrei Yoel (Parashas Tzav 133), explaining that even when it is very hard to resist taking the impure money of the Zionist government, we must be strong. Even if we will experience financial difficulty as a result of giving up these funds, we must sacrifice ourselves. Just as in this week's parashah where we find that extra encouragement is needed where a monetary loss is involved, so too today, we must strengthen ourselves and proclaim with pride that we will not take the satanic money of the evil Zionist kingdom.
There is a very powerful story quoted in several places (e.g., Tiferes Yoel v. 1 p. 56) illustrating the severity of accepting money from impure source. The Satmar Rebbe, ZY"A, and the Chazon Ish were once discussing the issue of accepting money from the Zionist government. The Chazon Ish expressed his opposition to taking the money. The Rebbe countered that there were many rabbis who did take the money. What did the Chazon Ish reply? "They are not rabbis, they just daven Mincha and Ma'ariv."
Once a man who was not very observant gave the Satmar Rebbe a $10 bill. After the man passed by him, the Rebbe began to scratch his ear with the bill. He then tore off part of the bill and continued scratching his ear before tearing off another piece, continuing this process until the bill was completely gone. (Moshian Shel Yisroel Volume 3 pp. 182 - 183)
Once a man who had gained significant amounts of money from insurance fraud decided to give the money to the Satmar Rebbe, ZY"A, for distribution; he had pangs of guilt, and so to avoid using the money for himself, the man decided to donate it for tzedakah distribution. Over a year passed by, and the man realized that his check had not cleared his bank account. The man contacted the Rebbe's gabbaim, who in turn asked the Rebbe. The Rebbe told them: "The check is lying in my drawer. The donor can have it back".