"Finding Your Zivug (Mate)"
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- Thursday, September 20, '01 - Parshas Vayeilech 5762

Suffering is a universal age-old question. The Jew ultimately understands that finite human intellect can never fully understand or second-guess the infinite. We know that everything that G-d does is for the good (Brachos 60b). The wise person understands that suffering is a kindness from G-d (Radak to Psalms 107:43).

On the road of mate-seeking, delay and disappointment are painful. We cited above some thoughts from Rebitzen Heller and myself on why not finding your mate now may be necessary or advantageous. There can be more insight obtained from the following study of the Torah's recounting of the attack upon the Jewish people by the nation of Amalek.

Shortly after Israel was taken by G-d out of Egypt, the belligerent, evil nation Amalek ambushed and attacked Israel unprovoked. In the recounting of this war, the Torah is revealing vital information that does not appear readily to the naked eye. Upon deeper study, a lot of very important information comes to light about life, G-d's management of the world, what G-d wants from us, what G-d does for and to us.

One of the things that is very disturbing and intriguing about the story-line is where this story occurs in the chronology of events in the Torah.

The Jewish people had been enslaved in Egypt. Hashem said to Moshe to go to Paro to tell him, "Let my people go that they will serve me." Paro said, "No." There were ten plagues and then G-d opened the Reed Sea miraculously and the Jews fled to safety. The Egyptians who were chasing them were drowned, and the Jews were totally free.

Then, after this, the Jewish people said to Moshe that they needed bread, meat and water. G-d replied that He would take care of them, and He gave Mon (manna, miraculous bread that fell from Heaven in the morning), He blew quails birds into the camp every evening (so that the people would have meat) and He provided water from a rock that would follow them around through the desert and produce water miraculously wherever they would go in the desert.

Now after all of this, the Jews are traveling forward through the desert from Egypt towards Israel. This nation Amalek, with no provocation or justification, ambushed and attacked the Jewish people from behind, killing the stragglers - the elderly, those weak from the effects of slavery, the sick, women and children. Israel rallied and there was a war. Moshe held up his hands and when the people looked at Moshe holding up his hands, Amalek was beaten and the Jews won.

This is a strange story, especially when we consider that on the surface it appears that you have an innocent, weary nation, who have just been oppressed and brutalized for many, many years. After finally being freed, they just want to get going with their lives, and all of a sudden, Amalek bashes them, doing so from behind and killing the most defenseless and vulnerable, for no discernable reason. It doesn't seem to make sense.

Let's look through the eyes of the sages and add material from them, beyond the purview of the Chumash alone. Then, this fuller story becomes extremely and profoundly instructive, especially in a context of having hardships in life in general and in finding a mate in particular. A lot is going to be disclosed about what G-d does and what we need to do, so that G-d (hopefully) will be more inclined to provide our needs, save and help us.

The Torah tells us that Amalek's attack occurred in a place called "Refidim." We know that the Torah is not a geography book. The Torah does not tell us locations of the events recorded within the Torah for the purpose of letting us know geographic information. It is not in the interest of advising readers of the event's location. There are eternal, profound Torah messages whenever the Torah gives us any information - geographical information or otherwise - about any of the events recorded in the Torah.

One of my main Torah teachers and inspirations, Rav Avrohom Osher Zimmerman, z'l, explained this attack by Amalek at Refidim. The Midrash Mechilta tells us that when the Torah records the attack by Amalek, and that the ambush occurred in "Refidim," this is a "code word." What does "Refidim" stand for? It is short form of the phrase, "Rofu yidayhem midivray Torah (The Jewish people weakened their hands [i.e. grip] on words of Torah)."

We see, then, that there was a "cause and effect" which the midrash is telling us, that because the Jews let down their grasp of the Torah, that caused that Amalek should attack the Jewish people savagely from behind, ostensibly unprovoked.

An element which is significant is seen in the Torah, after the depiction of the battle. G-d says that his throne is not complete as long as Amalek will not have been erased and exterminated from the world. Those are pretty harsh terms. There is a mitzva in the Torah for the Jews to annihilate Amalek. They are a nation fully entrenched with pure evil, with no redeeming quality. G-d wants Amalek erased and eradicated from the face of the earth, so that Amalek is not even remembered. Rashi says that G-d was furious and hateful towards Amalek. G-d said that his name and his throne cannot be complete because of the degree of hateful evil that Amalek brings into the world.

If we study who Amalek is, we learn that Amalek, stands for complete hefkairus (wildness, freedom from any kind of structure or discipline, abandonment of all law and order) and Amalek is antithetical to G-d and what G-d wants in this world. G-d wants the world to have teaching, system, obligation, behavior standards, morals, submission to greater and higher authority and law. Amalek is the complete absence and opposite of everything that G-d stands for.

In Hebrew, every name has meaning. A name always represents the essence of the one named. So there is some intrinsic, deep meaning about the name of anyone who has a Hebrew name. That name has a tie to the essence of the personality of the person to whom that name is assigned. An angel puts the idea for a name into the mind(s) of the parent(s) so that the name will correspond to the essential personality of the person being named.

G-d also has his names. The Torah says that G-d's name and throne will not be complete. The word throne (Kisay) is written incompletely (Kais - missing the alef, the last consonant), so that it only has two of the three main (consonantal) letters of the word throne. And, instead of using the four letters of G-d's name (yod kay vov kay), the Torah here only says two letters (yod kay). The very way in which the Torah expresses the idea that G-d's throne and name will not be complete (as long as Amalek is not exterminated) is by writing "throne" and His name in incomplete fashion. And, since a name is the essence of the one named, G-d is telling us that His essence that He wants in this world and prevailing in this world cannot be complete as long as Amalek - and the wild abandonment (i.e. no law, morals, authority, structure, discipline, etc. in the world) that Amalek stands for - is in this world. Amalek hit the weak ones FROM BEHIND under a brutal sun in the desert. Until someone who can be so merciless, cruel, evil, self-centered and purposelessly destructive, is erased from the face of the earth, G-d's purpose for the world cannot be completely achieved, and what G-d wants from humankind cannot fully happen. Until the Jews, who stand for what G-d wants and for manifesting His essence on earth, who stand for G-d's system, values and authority, eradicate what G-d doesn't want, His name and throne - His essence on earth - can't be complete.

It's not like Amalek didn't know, either. The sages tell us when G-d opened the Reed Sea, G-d made the miracle of splitting all the water everywhere in the whole world. If a man was drinking a cup of water in China, the water in his cup separated. So everyone in the whole world knew about the miracle of G-d opening the waters of the Reed Sea. Everyone in that generation knew there is a Creator. Amalek knew what he was doing.

Rashi adds something else that is very intriguing and important, that contributes to the unfolding message. The Torah placed the story of Amalek right after the story in which the Torah tells us that G-d miraculously provided the mon (bread from Heaven), the quails and the water every day in the desert to the Jews.

G-d provided the needs of the Jews. When the people were hungry, thirsty and scared, G-d miraculously saved them and provided all their needs. G-d provides our needs today. When we pray for our needs, G-d is willing to save and help us.

When, however, the Jewish people weaken their grasp on the Torah, G-d cannot respond with what we pray to Him for. What was worse, G-d saved them (from hunger and thirst) and the Jews did not respond with gratitude. They kept complaining against G-d. G-d withdrew His protection and the Jews were, to use the words of Midrash Tanchuma, like a little impudent and ungrateful child thrown off the protecting shoulder of his father, whereupon the boy was bitten by a dog. When the boy was "good," he had his "father's" protection. His father provided all the boy's needs and exerted himself to give and to give to his child. Then the child said that he does not know where his father is. He was sitting on the shoulder of his father! The father put the boy down to be bitten by the dog.

--- If the Jewish people learn and practice the Torah, are committed and devoted to the Torah, then G-d will provide every last one of their needs. G-d will save the loyal one from hardship, provide needs, save from troubles, will help and take care of him/her, He will be benevolent to him/her. But, if a person weakens his grip on the Torah, weakens his attachment and involvement, his devotion to the Torah, G-d brings Amalek.

The Jew, in essence, brings upon himself the forces of wild abandonment, the relinquishment of the "system," by letting go of his grip on the Torah, his involvement with and loyalty to the Torah. Instead, he takes on the "system," the attitude of Amalek. It is the antithesis of the Torah. It is abandonment of what G-d wants, teaches, of what His essence and name and throne stand for, which is the Torah and G-d's sovereignty. When a Jew lets go at all of the Torah, there is no more G-dly law or authority. So, abandonment by G-d is "mida kinegged mida" (measure for measure) and is perfect justice.