This page presents insights by Rabbi Tuvia Bolton on the weekly Torah portion.
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Parshat Tzav (5764)
This Shabbat in continuing the laws of Temple sacrifice we begin with the commandment to have a fire burning continually on the altar. (here 6:6)
This Shabbat is also called Shabbat HaGadol, literally 'The Big Shabbat" because of a big miracle that happened in it over 3,300 years ago: All the First-born males in Egypt made war against Pharaoh when he refused to free the Jews and save them from the tenth plague. [Hence the praise, "G-d smote Egypt THROUGH their first-born". (Psalms 136:10)]
At first glance this is not understood. Revolutions happen all the time! What was such a big miracle about this one?
Also what is the connection to the weekly section?
And MOST important; what does this mean to us today?
The scene is Baghdad some five hundred years ago. The thriving Jewish community there lived, as Jews always did, with a sword hanging over their
The evil Abdul Mustafa Deenu, chief advisor to the Sultan was a rabid Jew-hater and a wickedly clever man. For years he dreamed of ridding the community of the Jewish infidels and getting his hands on their riches. And often the only thing standing in his way was the Sultan's admiration for his
number two advisor Rabbi Avraham.
Rav Avraham was always full of clever answers and witty statements that enchanted the Sultan and filled Abdul with jealous fury. Until finally, one year just before the Jewish holiday of Passover he and his assistant Faruk came up with a brainstorm plan.
Abdul in the course of the years as chief advisor had forged keys to virtually all the rooms in the Sultan's palace, including Sultan's royal bedroom. The plan was that Faruk would make an exact replica of the exquisite Sapphire which was the diadem of the Sultan's royal turban and switch it for the real one when the Sultan was sleeping. Afterwards they would implicate the Jews and be rid of them forever!
It took a week to complete all the preparations and that night when the Sultan was soundly asleep in his firmly locked and guarded room Abdul snuck Faruk into the Sultan's room by day, he skillfully made the switch that night and then hid there till the next day.
As they hoped, the Sultan did not notice a thing and later that afternoon, when he was sitting on his throne in the main royal hall Abdul suddenly stared at the royal turban, let out a feigned gasp, took the Sultan by the arm to another room and whispered his horrible discovery.
The Sultan removed his turban, took a good look and realized that his faithful advisor was right! His Sapphire had been stolen!!
"We must act quickly!" Abdul said as he paced back and forth nervously, "This is serious. I'm sure that it was done recently! Yesterday the stone was there, I'm sure of it! I would have noticed!"
Abdul saw that the Sultan was shaken. It was working!
"Your majesty, if the thief escapes and the word gets around that the Sultan cannot protect his own crown it will be a disaster!"
"Yes, yes!" replied the trembling Sultan, but .?
Abdul fell into 'deep' thought and then said slowly and wisely as though thinking out loud.
"The Jews have a virtual monopoly on precious gems here. The thief will have to sell the stone somewhere and if anyone will know about it will be the Jews. The only solution is to force the Jews to find the stone."
"Force them?" Asked the Sultan. "Why use force? I'm sure they will do all they can to ..."
"Ahh, your majesty," Abdul replied. "This is different. Here we are talking about money. The Jews are very strange when it comes to money. Why, in their own Bible it brags of how they cheated the poor confused, frightened Egyptians and robbed them of everything, even their clothes, before leaving Egypt!
"But what can we do?" The Sultan asked
"Call Rab Avraham. Tell him that your gem has been stolen and if the Jews that do not come up with some evidence in one week we will confiscate all their wealth and drive them out of the kingdom on the same day!"
But the Sultan winced. "Expel them? What have they.?
"Your highness, I understand your feelings. But this is a matter that strikes at the very foundation of Baghdad! At the very heart of Islam!! Who could have done such a thing if not the Jews? They care nothing about your country. They only dream about their Israel. On their Passover they scream 'Next year in Jerusalem!' Why, they have even totally rejected our Great Prophet Mohammed! They don't accept one word of the Koran!!"
The news hit the Jewish community like a lightning bolt. They had one week to find the Sapphire or face almost certain death.
Rav Avraham tried to avert the decree; every day he attempted to talk to the Sultan but hit a stone wall. Abdul had complete control.
Rav Avraham declared a public fast day, then another, then a third and a
fourth. The Synagogues were full; the entire Jewish population of Baghdad,
men women and children, wept, read Psalms, fasted and prayed for four days, eating only some bread and water at night.
Then, at the end of the fourth day Rabbi Avraham solemnly ascended the podium in the in the main synagogue and announced: "Fellow Jews we have fasted and prayed for four days and G-d has not yet answered us. In two days will be Passover. Pesach, the joyous festival of our freedom.. Let us remove our sackcloth, forget our pain, return to our homes, clean them of all leaved bread, bake Matzot, prepare festive meals and celebrate the way G-d wants us to. Perhaps our joy will succeed to bring our salvation where our sorrow failed."
Meanwhile, back in the palace the Sultan was miserable. His gem was still gone and now he was about to lose his beloved Rabbi Avraham and all the Jews in Baghdad as well.
He paced back and forth in his room. It was late at night the week was almost over and he couldn't even bring himself to lie down.
Suddenly he had a crazy idea. Rav Avraham hadn't tried to see him for two days, maybe there was a development! Maybe the Jews found the gem, or the
thief! He decided to go to the Jewish section of town to see for himself.
He removed his royal robes, dressed up like an ordinary person, left his room from a secret exit and in just moments he could see the Jewish quarter from afar.
Aha! Just as he thought! The houses were brilliantly lit! Faint sounds of song and laughter could be heard wafting through the air! They must have found the thief!
He quickly walked to the house he knew to be Rav Avraham's and peeked in a side window. It was like looking at heaven. Everything, and everyone looked holy, and shining. They were all smiling, seated around a large dining table covered with a festive white tablecloth and decorated with sparking silver vessels. It was a definitely not a scene of mourning or worry they must have good news!
Suddenly they all broke into joyous song "Di Di Yaanu, Di Di Yaanu, Di Diiii Yaanu, Diyaanu Diayynu!!!"
"Aha," Sultan said to himself. Its Deenu!! Abdul Mustafa Deenu! That rat! I never really trusted him!!
The Sultan ran back to the palace, re-entered through the secret path, put on his royal robes and ordered his personal guards to search the home of Abdul until they found the stone. And sure enough they found it!
Deenu was punished and the Jews again were miraculously saved.
Now we can answer our questions.
We must keep a continual fire burning. A fire of enthusiasm, hope and certainty that HaShem will help us.
And that fire ITSELF will cause miracles to happen.
This is VERY important and practical to us today when it doesn't take much effort to see that the entire world (including the Jews themselves) seems to be against us. Anti-Semitism is at an all time high and Jewish identity is at an all time low. Arafat (Ym's) is ruling Israel and Sharon, ironically, is in effect leading the "Palestine Liberation Organization".
Nevertheless our Torah portion is telling us that our enthusiasm, our 'constant fire' can change it all: Even the forces and circumstances that seem to OPPOSE us will TRANSFORM to become helpers (just as the Sultan helped Rav Avraham and the firstborn fought for the Jews).
Soon we will SEE that we are really what the Lubavitcher Rebbe said we are (and he never made a mistake): the first generation of redemption!
YES!! Before THIS Pesach the Moshiach will arrive, build the Holy Temple and we will sacrifice this year's Pesach offering along with all the sacrifices written in this week's portion!!! It all depends on us!
A happy and Kosher Passover to all our readers with Moshiach NOW!!
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