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8 Adar 5762 - February 20, 2002 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Opinion & Comment
Who is Respected?

by L. Jungerman

The days of Purim fall right after the week we read Parshas Tetzaveh. There is a solid connection between the weekly portion that deals with the priestly garments and the central content of Purim -- the eradication of Amolek. One a counterpoint against the other. The priestly garments, which are designed for honor and glory, versus their complete antithesis -- the figure of Amolek in disgrace, stripped of respect.

Ovadia refers to him in his vision, "Behold, I have made you small among the nations, you are greatly despised" (Ovadia 1,2). Kohanim perform their service with majesty and splendor. "`And the majesty' (hohod) is the Beis Hamikdosh" (Brochos 58), in contrast to the seed of Eisov, who abused the holy service -- "And Eisov despised the birthright."

This abuse of their forbear, Eisov, became the fulcrum in the personality makeup of his seed, Amolek. Eisov lacks all appreciation for the service of the firstborn because his world outlook stands in diametric opposition to it. For what, after all, is the service of the holy and sanctified? What is the offering of sacrifices, a total sacrifice to Heaven, to the Creator?

A transformation of everything with a material externality into a purely holy spiritual fire.

The kohanim in their service reestablish the entire world upon its proper program and plan, as vessels for spirituality, to fulfill the will of Hashem. By the act of sacrificing and offering up the animal and vegetable kingdoms, they draw them closer to their source, their primary purpose in this world: hakrovoh with the dual meaning of sacrifice and drawing near. They thus prove that there exists no physical reality divorced from the will of the Creator. His glory fills the entire world and everything in this world has a spiritual purpose.

Eisov sees no value in this. He despises it. In his sight, the world is exactly as he sees it with his physical eyes. Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow you die. "Lo, I am about to die, so wherefore do I need the birthright?" This is the seed-attitude from which Amolek, the very antithesis of Yaakov, sprung.

He has no real cause to hate his brother. You were "weary and exhausted" and posed no threat to him. "Who met you on the way" -- you did not trespass upon his land; he went out of his way to intercept you. There is no territorial battle between him and you, nor is religious zeal the issue. Only pure hatred for the sake of hatred.

"And the House of Yaakov will be fire and the House of Yosef a flame and the House of Eisov straw and they will consume them" (Ovadia 1,18). "A mere spark shall emit from Yosef and consume Eisov entirely" (Rashi, Parshas Vayeishev). Along will come Yosef who withstood all physical temptation in the very midst of the contamination of Egypt, and who thus proved to the entire world that the body is not the master of the soul, but rather the soul rules the physical body and steers it to become a vessel in the service of Hashem.

He shall burn up Amolek, who regards this world as the be- all, an end-purpose, and not a means.

The House of Eisov is straw. Just like straw is already stripped of the kernels of grain that grew upon it and retains no more value than a hollow stalk, mere animal fodder, so is Amolek stripped of all content and spiritual value, and has no purpose.

The House of Yosef shall be a flame. Every little dry twig or stalk thrown into the fire rises heavenward. The flames shall reach out to burn and devour them completely.

It is seemly and fitting for the kohanim who perform the holy service to be distinguished with raiment of splendor and glory. They bear the Divine image upon their face. Their bodies are sanctified and purified and far removed from physicality and materialism; they are holy vessels. Their bodies have been conquered, sublimated and directed towards fulfilling the will of Hashem. They rightly deserve to wear the holy garments.

Amolek, on the other hand, is completely animal-like, lacking any vestige of the sanctity of the Divine image reflected in man. This is why we must efface the memory of Amolek, to obscure and deface him, as it is written concerning the Flood, "And it destroyed every living substance upon the earth."

Amolek has no substance and no form. "And there shall be no remaining vestige to the House of Eisov" (Ovadia 1,18). He possesses not one iota of spirituality and therefore, nothing shall remain of him in the future. Not like the other nations of the world who, after they are purified many times over, will retain a residue of goodness and value which shall be put to the service of Jewry, as it is written, "And kings shall be your tutors." (Yeshaya 49,23) "For the nation and kingdom which will not serve you shall perish." (Yeshaya 60,12)

"And Homon and his sons were hanged upon the tree." (Esther 9,25) This was the very act of hanging of which the Torah warned, "You shall not leave his corpse upon the tree, for this is the curse of Hashem." (Devorim 21,23) But Amolek has long since forfeited his Divine image. He is despised, then and ever. He is eradicated, then and forever after. And may we speedily see this, in our days.

(According to Neos Hadesheh)

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