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Thursday, March 24

The Weekly Shtikle - Purim

For this year's Purim shtikle, I offer a very simple observation which ties in interestingly with the wild and wacky political season in which we find ourselves here in the United States. Please see my Purim archives for some more insightful (not inciteful) thoughts on Purim.

 

I have always had in my mind a picture of what Achashveirosh might have been like – a goofy, flabby and clumsy fellow. Some of that visualization is based on certain passages and exchanges in the megillah and accompanying gemara but there is certainly a large influence from various publications and productions over the years. There is a discussion in the gemara which seems, for just a moment, to be addressing that characterization. (Megillah 12a) Rav and Shmuel argue – one says Achashveirosh was a melech tipesh, a foolish king, and the other argues he was quite wise. But what indeed is the reasoning behind these two opinions? The gemara explains that in arranging his great feast, Achashveirosh first summoned the nobles and princes of all of the vast lands over which he reigned (1:3.) Only after this "short-lived," 180-day party, (1:5) did he continue to wine and dine the locals of Shushan.

 

One opinion is that this was a wise move because the subjects who live in the outlying areas are harder to appease and entertaining them first ensured that he would be favourable in their eyes. He didn't have to worry about the locals because they could easily be appeased. The other opinion is that this was a foolish move because it is more important to have the local subjects firmly on your side. For if the outliers were to rebel, you would need to be able to rely on your local subjects for support.

 

Indeed, this dispute is not at all addressing Achashveirosh's mental state as much as it is a dispute in political strategy. I find it interesting that this very dispute seems to exist to this very day in its own form – not from a geographical perspective as much as an ideological one.  Political thinking is often broken down simply to left and right. And then there is the centre. Those who lean to one side or the other are often faced with a quandary in their quest to win over as much of the populous as possible. Do you soften your tone to appeal more to those in the middle? After all, those whose politics are staunchly on your side of the spectrum need not be convinced and you can always rely on their support? Or, is it more critical to "galvanize the base" and present a message your supporters will rally behind and perhaps influence those who are on the fence. It seems this modern day predicament is closely related to the dispute Rav and Shmuel had centuries ago.

 

Have a Purim Samei'ach!


Eliezer Bulka
WeeklyShtikle@weeklyshtikle.com

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:
Al Pi Cheshbon: 10,00 Kikars

Please visit the new portal for all Shtikle-related sites, www.weeklyshtikle.com
The Weekly Shtikle and related content are now featured on BaltimoreJewishLife.com

Friday, March 18

The Weekly Shtikle - Parshas Zachor

Once a year, we are required to recall the dastardly acts of the nation of Amaleik in attacking us abruptly upon our exit of Egypt. We are given two instructions, zachor and lo tishkach. To remember and not to forget would certainly seem, at first glance, like superfluous commands. But certainly that cannot be the case. Our requirement to lain Parshas Zachor once a year is actually part of the lo tishkach component. The gemara (Berachos 58b) indicates that the memory of someone who has passed on lingers for only 12 months. We must make a special reading of this commandment to make sure we do not forget. What, then, is entailed in the commandment of zachor?

 

The simplest translation of the word zachor is to remember. But it seems that the word can take on a much deeper meaning. This is evident in the fourth commandment, zachor es Yom HaShabbos. Is it really possible to forget Shabbos? It happens once a week. The Torah is certainly not telling us to simply make sure we don't forget about Shabbos. Rather, as Rashi states there (Shemos 20:8), the word zachor clearly indicates a persistent state of being. As we are taught in the Mechilta, when we happen upon a nice fruit or other object during the week, we should save it for Shabbos.

 

Therefore, zachor is a commandment to be constantly mindful. It is not enough to remind ourselves of Amaleik's treachery once a year through this special reading. Unfortunately, until the final redemption, we will not find ourselves girding for physical confrontation with Amaleik. However, we must constantly be mindful of the exceptional evil that Amaleik represents. We must study their ways and understand how they stand in direct opposition to our belief system and way of life. This is necessary to allow us to be cognizant of the manifestation of Amaleik in current times. Whenever the Torah tells us zachor, it is demanding of us far more than to simply remember.

 

As explained in the Rashi I love to quote this time of year (bottom of Taanis 29a) we have ushered in a "Season of Miracles" which culminates with Pesach next month. Then too we have a commandment which relates to one of zechirah. Perhaps the above understanding can lend some insight into what we will engage in in one month's time.


Have a good Shabbos.
Mishenichnas Adar Marbim beSimchah!

Eliezer Bulka
WeeklyShtikle@weeklyshtikle.com

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:
Dikdukian: Zachar Amaleik? What was he smoking?

Please visit the new portal for all Shtikle-related sites, www.weeklyshtikle.com
The Weekly Shtikle and related content are now featured on BaltimoreJewishLife.com

Friday, March 11

The Weekly Shtikle - Pekudei

In the beginning of this week's parsha, the sum total of all the metals used for the mishkan is given. Ibn Ezra (38:24) and many other commentaries point out that the total of the gold is given without telling us what the gold was used for. But when the totals of the silver and copper are given, we are told exactly what they are used for.

A number of answers are offered. Ramban answers that the silver and copper were used for parts made completely of silver and copper so their exact weights could be measured out in order to count how much was used. The gold, however, was often used to coat different utensils such as the mizbei'ach or the aron and thus it was not possible to weigh out the amount of gold used for each utensil.

Netziv, in Ha'amek Davar, explains that the gold was used for the more holy parts of the mishkan such as the covering of the aron and the menorah and it would not have been respectful to weigh these items on a scale and thus, none of the gold was weighed.

Meshech Chachmah points out that while all the silver and copper that was used was already mentioned in Vayakheil, the making of the vestments of the kohen gadol were yet to be described and thus, the gold had not yet been finished so the Torah could not yet give a full account of its uses.

R' Moshe Shternbuch explains in Ta'am VaDa'as that the Midrash Tanchuma tells us that the fools of the generation were accusing Moshe of taking some of the metals for himself and thus, Moshe gave a full account of all the totals. R' Shternbuch points out that the giver of gold obviously gave with more generosity than the giver of silver. Thus, the really generous givers were so pure-hearted that they didn't demand an account of where their money had gone. Those who gave only silver or copper, however, were more stingy and thus, demanded to know where every last penny (for the copper givers, silver coin for the silver givers) went.

CHAZAK, CHAZAK, veNISCHAZEIK!

Have a good Shabbos.
Mishenichnas Adar marbim be'Simchah!
 
Eliezer Bulka
WeeklyShtikle@weeklyshtikle.com

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:
Al Pi Cheshbon: Frequency of חזק's and סיומי דפ יומי
Dikdukian: Ve'asa Vetzalel
Dikdukian: Kikar Zahav

Please visit the new portal for all Shtikle-related sites, www.weeklyshtikle.com
The Weekly Shtikle and related content are now featured on BaltimoreJewishLife.com

Friday, March 4

The Weekly Shtikle - Vayakheil

In the beginning of parshas Vayakheil Moshe begins to instruct the nation on how they are to proceed with the building of the mishkan. At the conclusion of Moshe's assembly, the pasuk recounts (35:20) that the congregation of B'nei Yisrael exited from the presence of Moshe Rabbeinu. R' Elya Lopian, in Lev Eliyahu, comments that it would have been sufficient for the pasuk to say that B'nei Yisrael exited. We knew where they were. Why is it necessary for the pasuk to say that they exited from Moshe's presence?

 

Imagine a street in a city that contained both a bar and a library. If you were to see a man walking crooked down the street, barely able to stand on his own two feet, explains R' Lopian, you need only take one look at him and you know exactly from which of the two he has just emerged. Likewise, the pasuk here is telling us that when B'nei Yisrael left Moshe's presence, they were fundamentally changed people. They were not simply B'nei Yisrael. They were a nation who had just left the presence of their great leader, Moshe Rabbeinu, having just received instructions to build a dwelling place for the Divine Presence, no less. Merely being in his midst left its mark on them.

 
Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka
WeeklyShtikle@weeklyshtikle.com

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:
Dikdukian: Ve'asa Vetzalel
Dikdukian: Kikar Zahav

Please visit the new portal for all Shtikle-related sites, www.weeklyshtikle.com
The Weekly Shtikle and related content are now featured on BaltimoreJewishLife.com