This page presents insights by Rabbi Tuvia Bolton on the weekly Torah portion.
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Parshat Ki Teitzei (5769)
This week's Torah portion contains 73 commandments and three of them are contained in its last paragraph:
"Remember what Amalek did when you were on the way to leaving Egypt. That he ambushed you and killed all the stragglers that were weak and tired and he did not fear G-d. And when G-d gives you the land (of Israel), wipe out the memory of Amalek from under the heavens - don't forget."
In fact, after the morning prayers we read this paragraph as a constant commandment for all Jews, men and women, at all times 1) to remember what Amelek did to us 2) to destroy him 3) not to forget him.
But at first glance, it's not so clear why this is so important.
Destroying Amelek only applies when Israel is totally autonomous from foreign control and when we know exactly who Amelek is, which will only happen when Moshiach arrives.
And there are many opinions that say that this commandment is not for every Jew, only for the King of Israel.
In other words; only when Moshiach arrives (G-d willing, Now!), unites the Jews and identifies Amelek, can we destroy this evil nation. But until then it is not relevant.
So what is so important about remembering him today, every day?
To answer this question, here is a story (Sipurim m'chaider HaRebbe pg. 110), as told by one of the Rebbe's personal secretaries Rabbi Leibel Groner.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe did a lot of miracles. There are hundreds of printed stories and thousands more that will be printed about people that he saved with blessings, prayers and totally unique advice.
In fact, even after the Rebbe had a debilitating stroke that paralyzed half of his body and removed his power of speech in 1992 he still continued helping people.
(And thousands are miraculously helped today as well by praying at the Rebbe's grave, visiting his synagogue or consulting one of his twenty some volumes of letters).
A well known woman in the New York area had been hospitalized for severe stomach pains. The woman's name is not mentioned in the story.
She checked into the best hospital and got the best doctors who ran a long series of tests and solemnly announced that she had a malignant tumor in her stomach and her only chance to live was to have it surgically removed.
The woman was not a Chabad Chassid and perhaps not even an observant Jew, but she had heard about the Rebbe and decided to try to contact him.
She called the Rebbe's office from the hospital. One of the Rebbe's Secretaries, Rabbi Leibel Groner, answered the phone and she poured her heart out. Rabbi Groner promised he would do his best to get her message to the Rebbe and sure enough at the first opportunity, he was standing before the Rebbe reading the request the woman had dictated to him.
Because the Rebbe was after a severe stroke and could not speak, Rabbi Groner began to make suggestions. "Does the Rebbe want the woman to check her Mezuzot? To give charity? Something else?"
When he said Mezuzot the Rebbe shook his head 'yes' while for the other suggestions he shook 'no'. So Rabbi Groner continued, "Can I tell her that the Rebbe said she should have her Mezuzot checked?" The Rebbe shook his head 'yes'.
As soon as Rabbi Groner left the Rebbe's office he called the woman on the phone and gave her the Rebbe's advice.
We must remember that before the Rebbe began telling Jews to check their Mezuzot, people rarely, if ever, did so when they had problems. The Mezuzah was considered to be sort of a Jewish good luck charm, but not something that could control the physical world.
But despite all this she immediately had her Mezuzot removed and sent to a certified Torah scribe.
One month later Rabbi Groner received a letter written by a Chassid who lived in the same city as this lady, that she had dictated to him.
She wrote that she found this Chassid's name in the phone book, called him and asked if he would visit her house and help her write a letter of thanks to the Rebbe and tell him what had happened.
She had her Mezuzot removed and checked and was informed that four of them were 'posol' i.e. unfit for use.
She had them replaced with new ones and that very day began to feel slightly better - but nothing significant. She was still in the hospital and the day of the operation was approaching.
Then, a few days before the operation was to take place, the doctors made another series of x-rays just to be sure that they could operate as planned.
A few hours later one of the doctor's entered her room holding a large envelope that contained the x-ray negatives with a strange foreboding look on his face. It didn't look good. He just stood there until her patience broke and she asked "What's going on here?! Say something!"
"I don't understand what I see" The doctor answered as he showed her the x-rays. "Here look. Here is the x-ray we took two weeks ago, see? This dark spot is the tumor." He put the negative on her bed and pulled out another one. "This is the one we just took now. Here's the date on the bottom. See? The tumor is....gone! Something is wrong here. We'll have to make another series of tests."
The doctors consulted together and concluded that the x-ray machine must be out of order and new tests must be made on another machine. So while a technician examined the first x-ray machine they made a new series of x-rays on a second one.
The next day the doctor came to the woman's room with the news. "I think you can go home."
"What do you mean?" She asked. "Can't you operate? Is this good or bad?"
"There is simply nothing to operate on." He replied "The tumor has disappeared. None of us have ever seen anything like it."
But the woman herself was still not convinced and demanded to see the head professor.
The next day the professor arrived and as soon as he entered she knew she made the right decision by calling him in. He was the picture of certainty, experience and authority. Now she would hear the facts.
He took one look at her and said. "What are you doing here? I thought you already went home! Believe me, you have no tumor and you don't need any operation. I don't understand what happened but I can't deny the facts". She told him about the Rebbe and the mezuzot but he didn't seem impressed."
(I heard, first hand, a similar story and when the doctor heard it was the Rebbe he said, 'Ahh, the Lubavitcher Rebbe! Now I understand what happened!)
The woman realized that somehow the Rebbe's order to change the Mezuzot healed her. But she was bewildered. She couldn't understand it. If the Rebbe had powers to heal, then why change the Mezuzot? And if he didn't have the power then how did he know that the Mezuzot weren't 'Kosher' and changing them would save her.
It was a miracle! And she both made sure that everyone she knew heard about it and began reading the Rebbe's writings herself.
It wasn't long before the newspapers got wind of what happened, a well known woman with a miracle story - it was a scoop! But when they sent a reporter to do the story she said she would only agree to be interviewed and have the story printed on one condition.
The reporter asked what the condition was and she replied, "That in the article you must write at least once, that the Rebbe announced "Behold! Moshiach is coming!"
"Sorry" The reporter replied. "I know the chief editor and he won't agree. We can't write a thing like that! It's too religious and unreal."
"If not," The woman replied "Then maybe another paper will want to print it."
Finally the editor agreed, the article was written in great detail and, most important to her, it prominently displayed the Rebbe's announcement and prophesy, "Henei Henei Moshiach Ba!"
This answers our questions. Amelek is not just a nation, it is a spiritual force of doubt and self-destruction found in each of us.
This spiritual force at times manifests itself in an actual, anti-Semitic nation (like the Nazis or the Arab Terrorists) that will be totally destroyed by Moshiach.
But it always manifests in each of us as doubt and coldness to Judaism.
Like the doctors, the reporter and the chief editor in our story; despite the open miracles they saw, they remained cold and aloof to G-d, the Rebbe and especially to Moshiach.
The essence of Judaism is enthusiasm, joy, warmth, excitement and love. But the 'Amelek' in each of us wants to destroy all this and replace it with cold egotism and selfish indifference.
That is why it is a commandment for all Jews, regardless of gender, at all times to remember and battle Amelek.
Because only then can we prepare the world for the arrival of Moshiach who will finally and utterly eliminate the Amelek within and the Amelek outside.
Then there will be no doubt; the entire world will recognize the greatness, goodness and closeness of the Creator.
But it all depends on us to do all we can, even one more good deed with warmth and enthusiasm, and before the New Year we can bring....
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