Monday, March 1, 2010

Ki Sisa

Divrei Torah on Parshas Ki Sisa

Winged Hollows (2007)
Alphabetic and AtBash Palindromes (2008)
The Thirteen Middos and the Key to Tefillah (2009)

Remember, if you have something worthy and original, send it to me at  Original wins more points.  Example: On Shabbos, a young Kollel fellow told me that he had a teretz on a question many people ask:  Assuming that the specific sequence of mitzvos (1. conquest of the land, 2. seating a king, 3. destruction of Amalek, and 4. building the Mikdash) is mandatory, how could Shlomo have built the Mikdash?  They hadn't yet destroyed Amalek, as evidenced by Amalek's later recurrence in the time of Haman.  So what right did they have to build the Mikdash?  You can't do #4 before you've taken care of #3!  (There are a million answers on the question.  That's not the point here.)  He answered that since the only survivor of Amalek was Agag, once Agag was killed, there was no current obligation of Mechiyas Amalek.  Although later Agag's child was born, that child had not yet necessarily been conceived when Agag was killed, so there was a putative time, albeit of short duration, when there was no miztva of Mechiyah, at which point the mitzva of Mikdash was triggered.  Once that mitzva went into effect, it was not removed when Amalek reappeared.
That's an example of a creative teretz that, it could be argued, is less than 100% defensible, but earns points for originality.
ON the other hand, I subtract points for sincerity, earnestness and naivety; in short,
Ingenious- good. 
Ingenuous- bad.
So don't be upset if I don't post it.


  1. That would mean that Agag didn'tdo "anything" for David's entire reign at the bare minimum...

  2. No! As long as all of Agag's children and the others were dead at the moment that Shaul won the war against them, and only Agag was alive, then as soon as Agag died and there were no more Amaleikim, then the mitzva was fulfilled. The fact that he left a women who carried his child doesn't matter, because (as the yungerman said) until he was born there was no mitzva of mechiya on him, or (as I suggested) that it can take three days between biah and conception, and if the child was not conceived at the moment of death, then when Agag died, there were no Amaleikim in the world. At that moment, the mitzvas binyan mikdash was chall.

  3. The Moadim u'Zmanin seems to say the opposite: He writes that Shmuel's killing of Agag did not fulfill the mitzvah of mechiyas Amalek because the mitzvah is all-or-nothing; so long as a remnant of Amalek remained in the form of that not-yet-born offspring, the mitzvah remained in an unfulfilled state.

  4. Well, that MIGHT be true if the child was conceived already. If the zera wasn't niklat until after Agag died, why wouldn't the mitzva be mekuyam? Unless you want to say that Mechiya means absolute and irreperable, and a mechiyah with a potential for future reversal of the mechiyah is not called a mechiyah, but that's Rogotchover territory, not yeshivishe lomdus.

  5. Why do you assume the standard here is zera being niklat? You see from the fact that even the animals have to be killed that the mitzvah is to eradicate any zecher of Amalek, which I think would include zera even pre-klita.
    Imagine you had a zera-bank with samples collected from Amalek. The records at that bank show "zera Amalek". Is this not a zecher, regardless of whether it is used or not? Lo gara from "shor shel Amalek".

    I don't like the whole question. The destruction of Amalek is not a tnai in the mitzvah of binyan habayis being chal. The chiyuv is chal from the first second it was given -- there just is a tnai in its kiyum which requires that it be preceded by an eradication of Amalek. So long as Amalek exists, the kiyum of binyan is not possible.

  6. Ok, I like your point about zera banks. The woman was not worse than a zera bank, or a shor shel amaleik.

    But your second taynah, I'm sorry. Once the chiyuv binyan was chal, and we became bnei chiyuva, the fact that Amalek resurfaced doesn't mean that the chiyuv is put on hold.

    Excellent Example that proves my point: issur bamos.

    Of course, you're thinking from a Reb Tzadok perspective: the reason you need mechiyas amalek before binyan habayis is because Yad ahl keis Kah, there can't be a proper hashra'as hashechina while Amaleik exists. Well, sorry, but I'm not Reb Shimon to be doresh taamei di'kra, and I'm certainly not Reb Tzadok.

    Anyway, you're probably right. My point was just to use his answer to illustrate my preference for defensible pilpul over cloyingly earnest and insipid yente-ing.

  7. You missed my point. Whilst I accept there would be (potentially) a period in which no children were born and Agag was dead, David ruled for many years before Shlomo took over, and subsequently built the Beis Hamikdash. It is very shver to say that for David's entire reign Agag did not have children

  8. Nathan, what I meant was this: Yes, of course Agag's son was born already by the time David became king, and there were many of Agag's grandchildren around when Shlomo built the Mikdash. But since there was a moment during Shaul's reign during which there were no Amaleikim- from the moment Saul killed Agag until the women with whom he had lain conceived his child (which can be up to three days later)- during those moments, the mitzvah of mechiyas Amalek was no longer relevant AS OF THAT MOMENT. So at that time, the queue of mitzvos moved forward: Kibush? Done. Malchus? Done. Amaleik? Done. Next! Mikdash! The fact that later, during the reign of David and of Shlomo, there were Amaleikim, did not abrogate the mitzva that had already vested during those few moments between Agag's death and his seed fertilizing the woman's egg.

    You might be arguing Chaim's argument, which is hard for me to fight, because he's probably right. But only PROBABLY.

  9. >>>Once the chiyuv binyan was chal, and we became bnei chiyuva,

    I am saying that mechiyas Amalek is not the trigger to make the chiyiuv chal -- the chiyuv is chal from day 1, but it can only be fulfilled b'tnai that you have eradicated Amalek first. Like R' Chaim says by milah -- the chiyuv is chal when the child is born, but it can only be fulfilled on day 8 when you meet the condition of having a child ra'uy l'milah. Nothing to do with R' Tzadoks.

  10. I have a scientist friend who has built an impregnable wall between his scientific and his religious beliefs. There was a time when I thought that having Reb Chaim and Reb Tzadok in your head required the same hermetic compartmentalization.

  11. The entire approach is yeshivish: i.e., ignorant of Nach. Dovid Hamelech was off fighting Amaleikim at the time Shaul was killed. (Shmuel a:30 for those whose memory is not immediately jogged by this reminder.) BTW, this was obviously less than two years after Agag was killed, by basic arithmetic.

    The only way I know out of this problem is the approach of the GAAVAD of Boston, zt"l, with backing from the Ibn Ezra and the Netziv, but I am sure you are aware of that mehalach, so I will not repeat it. However, it nullifies the clever answer given by the Kollel fellow.

  12. In addition, having r'Tzaddok and r'Chaim co-existing in one's cranium can be done without compartmentalization. Schizophrenia or multiple personalities also work. I know.

    So do I.

  13. Just to clarify GU's point, it should be noticed that not only did not Shaul kill all Amalekim, but neither did David (as it says there (שמואל א,ל,יז) that 400 of the Amaleki troops ran away). Later on we find yet another war against Amalek at the times of Hizki'a (דברי הימים א,ד,מג), so obviously they were still around.

    It is clear from the above that if למחות זרעו של עמלק is indeed a Tnai for Beit-Habchira (and not only Din Kdima) it must mean just to win a war against Amalek and not a total and final eradication, as GU hinted.

    The misconception that Shaul killed all Amalekim but one, probably stems from Hazal saying שאלמלי קטליה שאול לאגג לא הוה מתיליד המן . This was interpreted as if Hazal mean to explain how come there were Amalekim left after Shaul killed all. However, they only come to explain how come Haman was Agagi.

  14. Thank you, gu, for your valuable observation, and for twisting the knife. I agree that if you're already stabbing someone, you might as well rip his kishkes out while you're at it.
    John F. Kennedy once said that he defines 'happiness' as "The full use of your powers along lines of excellence. " This, of course, was a restatement of Aristotle's definition of "virtue" (arete) as excellence in fulfillment of a particular function, and "happiness" (eudaimonia) as “A sense of well-being, resulting from achieving excellence in the fulfillment of one's functions”, including the "species-specific" functions of reason (both theoretical and practical).

    I look forward to returning the favor, which would be made easier if you were to contribute something to this website.

  15. ripping out kishkes should always be followed by tromping on them. could you please identify the language of "arete" and "eudaimonia."
    "Latin phrases will be deleted. If you can't say it in Hebrew, Aramaic, or English, don't say it here."
    it may be greek, but it sure ain't "Hebrew, Aramaic, or English."
    Or are you a Democrat politician raising taxes while blaming Turbo-Tax for not paying your own?

    as to contributions, I think that holding the site to the cold, inflexible standards of truth and reality qualifies as a contribution. maybe even tax-deductible.

  16. !!#%##*#*@*!!! (drat.)
    But what am I supposed to do? Am I supposed to find a Litvak that defined happiness? Maybe in the sense that Catholic theologians say that opposed forces have a relationship if only in the sense that they oppose each other. Otherwise, I'm stuck with Aristotle, and he didn't speak Ladino.

  17. "great unknown" wrote:

    "The entire approach is yeshivish: i.e., ignorant of Nach."

    Since I gave the same answer at Havolim's kiddush on Shabbos Zachor I will point out that when one accuses someone of being ignorant of Nach one should not be ignorant themself. I was paying attention to the haftorah. Why weren't you?

    ואת-כל-העם החרים לפי-חרב

    It obviously means that all of Amalek in Eretz Yisrael were killed. Amelekim though were partly nomadic and the ones Dovid later fought would have been ones who immigrated from outside lands.

  18. anonymous:
    a) there is no territorial condition on killing amaleikim. therefore, if and since some survived - regardless of where - the mitzvah of mechiya was not fulfilled.

    b) al pi kabbala, many amaleikim used kishuf to conceal themselves as sheep, and thus escaped. obviously, es kol ho'om hecherim is not taken literally

    c) there is in internal contradiction in your assumption. if amalek was indeed nomadic, then how could there be a complete eradication in a single battle when there were likely pockets elsewhere in eretz yisroel. your conjecture that the ones fought by Dovid wandered in from outside the country could just as well have been that they wandered in from elsewhere in the country. In any case, it has no relevance to the problem, since the mitzvah is, as the chinuch says, b'kol makom...

  19. Oh great unknown, please pause for a moment while you chew the bones of the innocent; Given that the mitzva of mechiyah is not territory specific, we still do not know that the rule of priorities- kibush, malchus, amalek, and mikdash- applies when there are Amaleikim outside of Eretz Yisrael. The prerequisite is אויביכם מסביב וישבתם בטח "oyveichem MISAVIV." And what did David Hamelech say in II Shmuel 7? Hmmmm?
    וַיְהִי כִּי יָשַׁב הַמֶּלֶךְ בְּבֵיתוֹ וַה הֵנִיחַ
    לוֹ מִסָּבִיב, מִכָּל אֹיְבָיו. וַיֹּאמֶר הַמֶּלֶךְ, אֶל נָתָן הַנָּבִיא רְאֵה נָא אָנֹכִי יוֹשֵׁב בְּבֵית אֲרָזִים וַאֲרוֹן הָאֱלֹהִים יֹשֵׁב בְּתוֹךְ הַיְרִיעָה

  20. since it seems that it is acceptable to enter this discussion with a lack of knowledge of foundational basics (not limited to, but including nach) I figured I could and my 2 cents.

    1) could someone explain the gaavad of boston zt"l's approach. I don't have the slightest idea who he is or what he said.

    2)I understand that the gemara in sanhedrin makes this assertion, but since when is amalek considered 'kol oyeveinu'?
    pesach is coming soon, don't we say "b'chol dor vador omedim aleinu l'chalosaynu"?

    3)Barzilai, why do you assume from the pasuk by david hamelech that the key word to darshan is "saviv" implying in eretz yisroel? maybe the key word should be "oyevav"! so long as amalek is subdued and/or in hiding, perhaps even unrecognizable and therefore impossible to kill, THAT should fulfill the precondition. especially since the rambam uses this pasuk as his source for the order/precedence, and in my humble opinion, the fact that the pasuk says that Hashem gave him rest from his enemies implies that they are still there, just the war can't go on right now.

    4) this is probably a stupid question borne out of my ignorance, but how can the mitzvah of remembering amalek coincide with the mitzvah of destroying their memory? are we to erase these psukim, chas v'shalom, after wiping them all out? why is there no chiyuv to kill a ger from amalek? (as clear from the pasukim by the ger amaleyki who told david about shaul's death, or even better the bnei banim of haman...) is a ger amaleiki allowed to commit suicide? it would be convenient to say like the sefer mitvos (think smag, but might be smak) who says that this mitzvah doesnt apply until yimos ha'mashiach, but it seems that more problems arise through this mehalech than are resolved...

  21. To greater unknown: Let the record state that I meant "gnashing the bones of the innocent." There's such a small difference between gnashing and nashing.

    To lesser unknown:
    1. Gaa'vad of Boston is Reb Yosef Ber Soloveichik. His approach, stated in Fate and Destiny p. 19, and more briefly in Kol Dodi Dofeik, is this: the Rambam (5 Melachim 4) says that the mitzva of destroying the seven nations is moot, because Sancherev mixed the nations, and the national identities targeted in the mitzvos are no longer meaningful. Why, then, does the Rambam there in the next halacha, talking about mechiyas Amaleik, not say this in regard to Amaleik? He answers with his father's shittah that Milchama lashem be'amalek midor dor establishes that the mitzva will be operative forever. To resolve the Sancherev issue, he explains that while the mechiya of individuals is limited to genealogical Amalek, the din of national mechiya applies to any nation that emblazons its banner with a fanatical hatred of Israel.

    2. But the fact remains that the Gemara in Sanhedrin 20b does interpret the word "oyveichem" as referring specifically and exclusively to Amalek. Our discussion takes this as a given. But I agree that the Gemara needs explanation-- who says oyveichem means davka Amalek?

    3. Again, the Gemara does assume that oyveichem means Amalek. Perhaps you have a point, that oyveichem means active enmity, not mere identity as an oyeiv, so if the Amaleikim were quiet, the din Mikdash would be triggered, as you show from the na'ar ger amaleiki. Pashtus this is not true, but are we working with pashtus here? (rhetorical question.)

    4. Zecher means an object that people look at and say "this is from Amaleik" or "this was built by Amaleik." That sort of thing.

  22. See Sifri, Re'eh #15, and Netziv there:
    a) It says about David הניח לו מסביב מכל אויביו but we find more wars later. From this the Sifri (according to Netziv) learns that אויביו must mean Amalek davka.
    b) The Tnai for Beit-Hamikdash is הנחה and not מחייה.

    [btw, Maharsha Sanhedrin is very difficult, as it seems to ignore the Pasuk in Divrey Hayamim]

  23. Great Unknown asserted:

    a) there is no territorial condition on killing amaleikim....

    I am aware that you say that but my argument says that's not true. Simply asserting that your view is correct without answering my point does nothing. The rest of your point a is based on your false assumption. Either answer my point or concede.

    b) al pi kabbala, many amaleikim used kishuf to conceal themselves as sheep, and thus escaped. obviously, es kol ho'om hecherim is not taken literally

    Shmuel says differently. I'm not aware of any of the meforshim who quote this kabbalah that you cite. Can you cite any? So where can I read this for myself?

    c) there is in internal contradiction in your assumption. if amalek was indeed nomadic, then how could there be a complete eradication in a single battle when there were likely pockets elsewhere in eretz yisroel.

    You're assertion is false. There is no internal contradiction. The pshat in the pasuk in Shmuel says "ALL". That would mean all of Eretz Yisroel (since Dovid later fought Ameleikim), or are you disagreeing with Shmuel (or is that based on kabbala?)?

    As I see it, you have not addressed my central point except to state that kabbala says the pasuk in Shmuel is not literal. Where can I read that for myself? I can't take you seriously if you can't answer that simple question.

  24. anonymous:
    in the last line of my comment i gave the source for my assertion. i assume that you can find the chinuch yourself (hint: it's in ki saitzai)

    the oyvaichem issue is educationally difficult also; the possuk says "behaniach Hashem lachem mikol oyvaichem misaviv...[then] timche es zaicher amalek..." this leads to interesting understandings of zaicher (zecher) amalek, which may address the difficultry posed by lesser unknown.

    I'm beginning to feel like the Magellanic Clouds, or at least like the Antilles.

    BTW, Barzilai, i appreciate the admontion regarding osteophagia: it is shloshim yom kodem hachag. on the other hand, it's time to start practicing extracting brains with micro-pipettes.

  25. greater unknown:
    distant galaxies or archipelagos?
    and if you are insinuating what i think, I'm crashing by you for the seder! i'll even bring the micro pipettes.
    on a more serious note, how would the extra difficulty address my original problem, unless maybe we say along the same lines of what i attempted originally (and ironically at the same time the exact opposite) that when we are at peace from our enemies, then the chiyuv to eradicate amalek is triggered on (almost midah k'neged midah of how they attacked us and the status by when shaul was commanded to destroy them {unless i am remembering nach wrong}). then once they are adequately subdued/intimidated, the chiyuv to build the beis hamikdash starts...

    I remember seeing in the meforshim that timche es zecher amalek is referring to destroying their property, so there is no physical remembrance of them, so:
    a) why would that not apply to a ger from amalek?
    b) why would the requirement to destroy anything that would remind us of them not also apply to the pesukim in beshalach, ki sisa, shmuel, megillas esther, countless gemeras, etc?

  26. just to clarify in case i was not clear enough, i'm not suggesting that anyone holds that the mitzvah of timche is to destroy a ger amaleiki, or erase parts of chumash nach or gemara chas v'shalom.
    just trying to understand how it is truly a timche of the zecher while all these reminders still exist

  27. lesser unknown, greater unknown remains truly unknowable. But my sources, notoriously unreliable as they may be, indicate that he will, at that time, be serving in a pastoral capacity, not far, as it happens, from an archipelago. His audience, if they can shake off the dim-wittedness that accompanies the stupor of extravagance, will quickly realize they are being presented with a cornucopia of wit and wisdom and a uniquely broad spectrum of knowledge. If you try to crash his seder, they might shoot you.

  28. Thank you, Eli, for the mareh makom to the Netziv in the Sifrei, Re'ei #15, in which he says that the prerequisite is not Mechiyah, but rather Hanacha. I wonder, though, what Hanacha is? Detente?

  29. is "detente" Hebrew Aramaic or English?

    thanks for the warning about crashing gu's seder, but i happen to know the directors of where he will be serving in a pastoral capacity and i am fairly confident they wont shoot me, although i dont doubt they will send a bill afterwords

  30. lesser unknown:
    while the treatment is not extensive as presented in outline by the Ba'al Hablog, shilta, the shita of Rav Soloveichik I referred to is in the Harerai Kedem; your Rosh Yeshiva has a copy.

    and yes, i am indeed in the process of becoming a distant, and receding, astronomical object - although hopefully not in mass.

    while it requires much more exposition, my shita on mechiyas amaleik is that the physical eradication is only the the precursor and prerequisite to the true mechiyas zecher: removing the last vestiges of the spiritual scars left by the אשר קרך and returning to our natural state of קוממיות See particularly the netziv's analysis of what amalek did to us, at the end of beshalach.

    repeating the story is to remind us that our personality distortions are not intrinsic but rather induced. at least certain of them.