Thursday, March 13, 2008

Amalek and kabbalas haTorah - banishing "sipuk"

The gemara (Shabbos 87) tells us that Hashem coerced the Jewish people to accept the Torah at Sinai and only after the events of Purim was the Torah willingly embraced and accepted. Why was this acceptance achieved davka after the events of Purim and not at any earlier historical point? As discussed previously, the Shem m’Shmuel identifies the “rifyon yadayim” that led to the battle with Amalek not as a lack of Torah study, but a lack of intensity and preparedness for kabbalas haTorah. By definition, the defeat of Amalek during Purim is one and same as achieving kabbalas haTorah with full vigor.

The gemara (Meg 7) brings various proofs that Esther was written b’ruach hakodesh. Rava adds that all the proofs can be refuted except for the derasha of “kiymu v’kiblu – kiymu l’ma’alah mah she’kiblu l’matah”. Only b’ruach hakodesh could Esther and Mordechai have known that Hashem accepted their enactment of Purim. Yet, asks Tosfos, this proof also can be refuted, as Rava elsewhere (Shabbos 87) uses the same pasuk to darshen that that the Jewish people had a “kiyum” duing Purim of the kabbalas haTorah which had occurred at Sinai – “kiymu mah shekiblu kvar”. The Shem m’Shmuel in his last piece on Purim writes that these are not contradictory derashos, but complementary points (see the Kedushas Levi on this same gemara for a beautiful explanation). Because there was a deeply felt “kiyum” of kabbalas haTorah on the part of Bnei Yisrael, there was a complementary acceptance of all that was enacted as being a part and parcel of Torah, inspired by ruach hakodesh. In other words, the kabbalah is not simply a passive act of acceptance, but actualizes the Torah and creates the cheftza of Torah in the process.

What is the biggest obstacle to feeling this anticipation for Torah and having a kabbalah filled with hislahavus and intensity? Lots of people say derashos about Amalek being equal in gematriya to safeik=doubt. I would like to suggest that the gematriya is right, but they are misreading the word. It’s not safeik=doubt, but sipuk, satiation, feeling fulfilled (see the Koznitzer Maggid on the Mishna in Avos “histaleik min hasfeik” who suggests the same reading there). If a person feels fulfilled and satisfied where he or she is holding, then there is no expectation for change and certainly no desire for change. Banishing Amalek requires removing that feeling of sipuk and rekindling the desire to accept and grow.

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