Past Weekly Shabbat Message
Jewish Heritage
Rabbi Dovid Saks
(Torah Portion Chukas) Who are They!

As the Jews began the final stretch of their journey to Israel, they met resistance from the nations located between them and the land. The hateful nations did not let the Jews cross through their land although the Jews guaranteed that they would travel through peacefully and purchase goods from the locals, aiding their economy. Some of the nations even came out and waged war against the Jews.

Our Sages teach us that the protective clouds that surrounded and directed the Jews during their sojourn in the desert came in the merit of Aaron. Upon the death of the righteous Aaron the protective clouds disappeared. They eventually reappeared in the merit of Moshe.

The Jews' vulnerability and lack of protection caught the attention of the wicked nation Amalek and they attacked the Jews.

Interestingly, about this attack the Torah says that the Cananites waged war against the Jews. Our sages tell us that these Cananites were really Amalekites, however, since the Amalekites knew that the power of the Jews lies in their prayers, they slyly changed their language to that of the Cananites so that the Jews would think they were Cananites and would pray to G-d for victory over the Cananites. Thus their prayers would go unanswered for in fact they were warring with the Amalekites.

The Jews were actually perplexed as to who was waging war against them, because they noticed that their speech was that of Cannan but their clothing and uniforms were that of the Amalekites.

The Jews therefore simply prayed for G-d's assistance without specifying the name of the nation they were fighting. Their prayers were answered and the Jews were victorious!

You see, our nemesis Amalek, recognizes our unique power of prayer.
Our Forefather Yitzchok expressed this when he bestowed the patriarchal blessing on his son Yaacov, "The voice is the voice of Yaacov, and the hands are the hands of Aisav."

Our Sages explain that Yitzchok was not just describing that he felt the skin of the hairy Aisav but the voice sounded like Yaakov; rather, he was capturing the essence of Yaacov and Aisav.

Our Sages continue, when we utilize our power of prayer and Torah it negates the evil power of Aisav. However, when we fail to capitalize on our distinct power, then Aisav's evil power and plans can come to fruition.

I saw something thought provoking from the Skolya Rebbe: When Yaacov presented himself to receive the blessings from his father, he disguised his clothing to match that of the hairy Aisav, but he did not disguise his voice.

In our Parsha, Amalek (Aisav's descendants) did the opposite; they disguised their voice by switching their language - but they did not change their clothing.

Perhaps we can extrapolate the following:
There is an inherent difference between speech and clothing. Clothing is something that is external; clothing is worn upon one's body. Speech, on the other hand, is something expressed externally but must be processed internally and is therefore a reflection of the essence of the person.

Amalek who lives by the "hands," the external sword, didn't change their clothing since their external garb is their essence and identification. They could change and substitute their language and speech because they were not given the power of speech, and they could therefore change it.

On the other hand, Yaacov and his descendants were given the power of speech to utilize it for the spiritual - to connect to the Almighty through the study and teaching of Torah, praying, and speaking pleasantly.

Therefore, Yaacov, when disguising himself was only able to change his external clothing; however, his voice and speech, which was his essence, could not be disguised even if he might be exposed to his father. He just couldn't do it!

Our core essence is the manner of our speech; what we say and how we say it. Our greatest challenge is to retain our sacred power of speech by stopping ourselves from voicing something ill or negative about others. When we accomplish this, it is a most rewarding experience!

It is with is with an abundance of gratitude to Hashem
we share with you that we have been blessed
with a grandson
born on Monday to our children
Tzvi and Tova Saks
Wishing you a most enjoyable & uplifting Shabbos!
Rabbi Dovid Saks