Parashat Ki Tize
Dedicated in honor of my wife Raquel by Jo Jo Ashkenazi
Parashat Ki Tize
The parasha begins as Hashem tells Moshe to take a census of B'nei Yisrael. Hashem says to Moshe, every man from twenty years and up shall give a half shekel as an atonement for his soul when counting them. They shall give "Mahatzit Hashekel" (half a shekel)....the wealthy shall not give more and the poor man shall not give less than half a shekel. One reason for half a shakel is because all of B'nei Yisrael are like half and we need each other to become whole....."Kol Yisrael Arevim Zeh Lazeh", all of us are connected to each other because Jews are supposed to help one another! The word 'Mahatzit' in Hebrew is spelled with the letters: ..."Mem-Het-Tzadi-Yod-Tav". The middle letter is a Tzadi which stands for 'Tzedakah' (charity). The 2 middle letters that surround the Tzadi are 'Het-Yod' which spells 'Hai' (Life) and the outer letters are 'Mem and Tav'...which spells 'Met' (dead). So what the word 'Mahatzit' says, is that when you give charity, you will have Life and if you don't give Tzedakah, then it may lead to the opposite, Hass V'shalom. As the pasuk says....."Tzedakah Tatzil Memavet"...(Charity Saves us from Death!").
B'nei Yisrael were concerned when they thought Moshe was late from coming off from Har Sinai. So because they miscalculated Moshe’s return by just 6 hours, they approached Aharon to make a golden calf as an intermediary to Hashem to replace Moshe. According to a Gemara in masechet Sanhedrin (7a), Aharon made a calculation after he saw his nephew killed for not submitting to build the golden calf. Aharon thought that if he would protest and they would kill him, then they would be in violation of the sin of killing a Kohen and a Navi in the Mishkan of Hashem which there would be no teshuvah for. So it would be better that Aharon let them build the golden calf which they could make teshuvah for. So for this reason and in order to delay the people, Aharon told them...."Bring me your wives gold jewels". Aharon assumed correctly that the wives would be reluctant to give up their jewlery, especially for creating a golden calf. For this reason the women were granted every Rosh Chodesh as a Holiday which gives them a day off from their house work!
The question that's asked is how can a nation that was at such a high level after being saved by Hashem with so many miracles to the pinnacle of receiving the Torah to then stoop to such a low level where they can erect an idol in the form of the golden calf? The answer is Worry and Panic! According to Rav Chaim Schmuelevitz, once the people began to worry and had became depressed, the Satan was able to see a weakness in the people and attack. Rabbi Twersky says the answer is not to make any important decisions when your in a worried state of mind. That was the mistake B'nei Yisrael committed, they rushed to make this sin of the golden calf that we are still paying for to this very day. Rabbi Sananes taught us that our holidays are an atonement for the sin of the golden calf and he described it this way. We have 15 days of Yom Tov throughout the year with Pesach, Shavuout and Succot which equals 15 days x 24 hrs in a day that equals 360hrs. B'nei Ysrael miscalculated by 6hrs so those 6hrs become Batel Ba Shishiim (nullified by 60) which is the 360 hours of all our holidays.
As Moshe finally descended from Har Sinai with the two tablets in his hands which were the handiwork of Hashem on stone of sapphire. The Torah describes the very manner in which the tablets were inscribed as a testimony to their Divine origin because the letters can be read from either side. The word 'Engraved' in Hebrew is 'Harut'. Our Rabbi's teach us that it can also be read "Herut" which means "Freedom", which teaches us that the only truly Free person is one who engages in the study of Torah, (Pirke Avot, perek 6:2). The Torah goes on to elaborate (32:16) "The Tablets were G-d's handiwork, and the script was the script of G-d, engraved on the tablets". Rabbi Frand then points out that when Moshe received the tablets from Hashem the pasuk (31:18), simply states "Hashem gave the two Tablets of Testimony, stone tablets inscribed by the finger of G-d." So Rabbi Frand asks the question, why the Torah doesn't say much when the tablets are given to Moshe but then elaborates when Moshe destroys them. The answer is that when we have something that's precious to us, we don't always appreciate it until we lose it.
When Moshe reached the bottom of the mountain, he saw with his own eyes what B'nei Yisrael had done with the golden calf and how they began to worship it. Because of his anger, he threw down the Tablets from his hands and shattered them at the foot of the mountain. Many people may ask, why did Moshe have to shatter the Tablets? Rabbi Sananas taught us that Hazal said that by Moshe throwing down the tablets, it was as if he tore up the marriage contract so that B'nei Yisrael would not be destroyed. B'nei Yisrael has been compared to as the bride of Hashem and by making the golden calf, its as if we were unfaithful to Hashem and deserved to be destroyed. Moshe stopped that decree by throwing down the tablets, thereby tearing up the contract between B'nei Yisrael and Hashem. So if there was no contract, the sin was not completed and we would still be able to make teshubah! Until today we are still trying to atone for that sin of the "Het HaEgel".
Tomorrow we will be celebrating the very festive holiday of Purim and throughout time we’ve always learned that history has an interesting way of repeating itself, but the following article depicting the actual events of the Nuremberg trials in 1946 will astonish you...
On October 1st 1946, after 216 court sessions, the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg delivered its verdicts sentencing the leaders of the Nazi party to death by hanging.
16 October 1946
International News Service
…Julius Streicher made his melodramatic appearance at 2:12 a.m.
While his manacles were being removed and his bare hands bound, this ugly, dwarfish little man, wearing a threadbare suit and a well-worn bluish shirt buttoned to the neck but without a tie (he was notorious during his days of power for his flashy dress), glanced at the three wooden scaffolds rising menacingly in front of him. Then he glanced around the room, his eyes resting momentarily upon the small group of witnesses. By this time, his hands were tied securely behind his back. Two guards, one on each arm, directed him to Number One gallows on the left of the entrance. He walked steadily the six feet to the first wooden step but his face was twitching.
As the guards stopped him at the bottom of the steps for identification formality he uttered his piercing scream: 'Heil Hitler!' The shriek sent a shiver down my back. As its echo died away an American colonel standing by the steps said sharply, 'Ask the man his name.' In response to the interpreter's query Streicher shouted, 'You know my name well.' The interpreter repeated his request and the condemned man yelled, 'Julius Streicher.'
As he reached the platform Streicher cried out, 'Now it goes to G-d.' He was pushed the last two steps to the mortal spot beneath the hangman's rope. The rope was being held back against a wooden rail by the hangman. Streicher was swung suddenly to face the witnesses and glared at them. Suddenly he screamed, 'Purim Fest 1946.' [Purim is a Jewish holiday celebrated in the spring, commemorating the execution of Haman, the ancient persecutor of the Jews described in the Old Testament]…
Streicher had been a Nazi since early in the movement’s history. He was the editor and publisher of the anti-Semitic newspaper "Das Strummer." In May of 1924 Streicher wrote and published an article on Purim titled "Das Purimfest" (The Festival of Purim). In order to publish his vitriolic attack Streicher must have had a good deal of knowledge about Jewish thought and practice. However we can only speculate to what extent he was aware of the remarkable parallels between Haman and his own execution. However, they are indeed striking:
“And the king said to Esther the queen, ‘The Jews have slain and destroyed five hundred men in Shushan the capital, and the ten sons of Haman...Now whatever your petition, it shall be granted; whatever your request further, it shall be done.’
Then said Esther, ‘If it pleases the king, let it be granted to the Jews that are in Shushan to do tomorrow also as this day, and let Haman's ten sons be hanged upon the gallows.’ ” (Megilat Esther 9:12-14)
If Haman’s ten sons had already been killed, how could they be hanged?
Our Sages comment on the word “tomorrow" in Esther's request: "There is a tomorrow that is now, and a tomorrow which is later." (Tanchuma, Bo 13 and Rashi, Shemot 13:14).
In the Megilla, the names of Haman’s ten sons are written very large and in two columns. This is in distinct contrast to the style of the rest of the Megilla. The left-hand column contains the word v'et (and) ten times. According to our Sages the word v'et is used to denote replication. The inference is that another ten people were hanged in addition to Haman's ten sons.
If we examine the list of Haman's sons three letters are written smaller: the taf of Parshandata, the shin of Parmashta and the zayin of Vizata. Those three letters together form taf-shin-zayin, the last three numbers of the Jewish year 5707, which corresponds to the secular year of 1946, the year that those ten Nazi criminals were executed.
The Nuremberg trials were a military tribunal and thus the method of execution was usually by firing squad. The court, however, prescribed hanging. Esther’s request "Let Haman's ten sons be hanged" echoes down the ages. Equally uncanny is that the date of the execution (October 16, 1946) fell on "Hoshana Rabba" (21 Tishrei), the day on which G-d seals the verdicts of Rosh Hashana for the coming year.
As the Megilla recounts, a decree that the king has sealed cannot be rescinded, and thus Achashverosh had to promulgate a second decree to allow the Jewish People to defend themselves. In other words, that first decree was never nullified. Our Sages teach us that eventually the Jewish People will return to G-d either voluntarily, or if not, G-d will raise up another despot whose decrees will be “as severe as Haman” (Sanhedrin 97b).
When we look toward the place of our original encounter with Haman and see the rise of a fanatic whose rhetoric rivals our most vicious enemies, we should remember that history most often repeats itself for those who fail to learn its lessons.
May we always feel the closeness that we felt at Har Sinai with all our fellow Jews as we did with the Mahatzit Hashekel to help each other in times of need. Let us also remember that Hashem is in charge and that thousands of years of history for us that was not understood until October 1946 was realized with the hanging of the 10 Nazi’s at the Nuremberg trials as the last one hanged, he yelled out and proclaimed...”Purimfest!”
Jack E. Rahmey with the Guidance and Teachings of
Rabbi Amram Sananes
Eliyahu Ben Rachel Malka Bat Garaz
Sarah Bat Chanah Rabbi Shimon Chay Ben Yaasher
Shulamit Bat Helaina Meir Ben Latifa
Batsheva Bat Sarah Esther Esther Bat Sarah
Rav Haim Ben Rivka Rabbi Meyer Ben Chana
Yitzchak Ben Adele Rafael Ben Miriam
Chanah Bat Esther Moshe Ben Mazal
Moshe Ben Garaz Avraham Ben Mazal
Avraham Ben Garaz Ovadia Ben Yosef
Yaakov Ben Rachel Rahamim Ben Mazal
"Anyone interested in Dedicating this Divre Torah L'ilui Nismat or Refuah Shelemah or
In Honor of someone, can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org that information."
Checks can be made out to “Mikdash Melech” for $101 and mail to 1326 Ocean Parkway, Brooklyn, NY 11230 (please put in the memo “Divre Torah Food for Shabbat”)