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Friday, March 2

The Weekly Shtikle - Tetzaveh / Zachor

This past Shabbos, 2 Adar, was the yahrtzeit of my Zadie, R' Yaakov Bulka, z"l. This week's shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmaso, Chayim Yaakov ben Yitzchak.

As part of the process of producing the priestly vestements, pasuk 28:40 commands "Velivnei Aharon ta'ase kutanos", and for the sons of Aharon you shall make tunics. This can be interpreted in two ways - one tunic for each Kohein or many tunics for each Kohein. This is the subject of a dispute in the Yerushalmi Yoma (Perek 3 Halachah 6). Rabanan hold two tunics for each Kohen and R' Yose holds one tunic for each Kohein suffices.

In the gemara in Megilla 7a Rav Yosef learns that when it says in Megillas Esther "matanos la'evyonim" it means 2 total matanos for 2 evyonim - only one for each poor person. Turei Even in Chagiga and Avnei Shoham in Megilla (same author) comment that this gemara goes like R' Yose in the Yerushalmi who holds one tunic for each Kohein. However, asks Mitzpe Eisan in Megilla, from Tosafos in Chagiga (3a) we see that the halachah in regards to the dipute in the Yerushalmi is like the Rabanan - two tunics for each Kohein. If Rav Yosef in Megilla is going only according to R' Yose then it is not in accordance with halachah.

Mitzpe Eisan answers from Pri Chadash (Orach Chaim 694) who writes that if the pasuk had written "vela'evyonim matanos" then it would have implied two to each but now that it says it the other way around it only means one to each. Therefore, the rule is that if the subject is written before the object then it may imply that to these subjects you will give objects to each. That then is the subject of dispute in Yerushalmi where the pasuk in question is "Velivnei Aharon ta'ase kutanos", the subject coming before the object. However, with Matanos la'evyonim where the object comes first, it means that these objects shall be distributed amongst the following subjects and everyone will agree that it is one per person. [This also explains why the gemara in Yoma entertains the possibility that there were two lots on each goat in the Yom Kippur procedure because the pasuk is "al shnei hase'irim goralos" the subject before the object.]


In the special haftarah that is read for Shabbas Zachor, Sha'ul wages war against Amaleik and, in contradiction of his specific instructions from Shmuel HaNavi, he has pity on the king, Agag, and lets him live. Additionally, he does not heed the command to kill all the animals belonging to the Amaleikim and brings back those that were fit for sacrifice. Shemuel does his best to remedy the situation by personally disposing of Agag. Before smiting him with the sword, Shmuel declares poetically (Shemuel I 15:33) "As your sword has made rendered women childless, so shall your mother be childless among women."

This statement may be understood merely as poetic irony. However, R' Chaim Kanievsky understands it literally and points out that we see from that statement that Agag's mother was still alive. Wasn't he the only Amalekite left alive? Agag's mother must have been from another nation.  R' Chaim therefore concludes that a foreigner who marries an Amaleiki is not included in the commandment to wipe out Amaleik. However, in accordance with the guidelines of the gemara (Kiddushin 67) pertaining to the lineage of gentiles, her children are considered Amaleikim.

With this, R' Chaim explains another interesting twist in the story. According to the Ba'alei Tosafos on Parshas Beshalach, on that one night of captivity, Agag had relations with a donkey. This donkey was, in fact, a woman who made herself appear as a donkey through witchcraft. It was this propensity for witchcraft which demanded that even the animals had to be killed. This woman gave birth to a son from whom came Haman. It is clear that this woman was among the Amaleikim. Why was she not killed? Only the animals fit for sacrifice, donkeys not included, were saved. Therefore, she must have been spared when in the form of a human. Once again, the only justification for this could be that she was the wife of an Amaleiki who in fact hailed from another nation.

Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:
Dikdukian: Zachar Amaleik? What was he smoking?
Dikdukian: Ner Tamid
Dikdukian: Sham and Shamah
AstroTorah: What's that in the West? by R' Ari Storch
AstroTorah: Invisible Signs from Heaven by R' Ari Storch

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