Rabbi Label Lam
Ultimate Victory is Promised
And Amalek came and battled with Israel in Rephidim. And Moses said to
Joshua, "Choose for us people and go do battle with Amalek. I will stand at
the head of the hill with the staff of G-d in my hand...It's a war for
Hashem with Amalek from generation (to) generation." (Shemos 17:8-9-15)
Choose for us. For me and for you! He (Moses) equated himself to him
(Joshua). From here our sages learn to say, "The honor of your student
should be as dear to you as your own.The honor of your friend should be to
you as the reverence for your Rebbe...The reverence of your Rebbe should be
as the awe of heaven. (Rashi)
With a careful reading of the text we are treated to such a handsome lesson
in human relations. Everybody, starting from the top down is to offer an
upgraded measure of honor and reverence for his students, colleagues and
teachers. For sure, if carried out consistently and universally this
simple maxim would help create a rich and fibrous bond between all of
people in an unbreakable way. The only question though is, "Why is this
address the one for this poignant point?" Why is it parked here next to
the battle with Amalek?
It must have been clear to Moses from the beginning of the surprise attack
that Amalek was not a one-time combatant. Israel had not violated their
territory or provoked them in any way. This was an open offensive against
what Israel had now come to represent to the entire world. They were as a
tall flag, waving in the wind, high above the nations proclaiming the power
and presence of The
That Amalek was willing to destroy itself in this suicide mission only to
stain that flag and diminish its status indicated that they are as
passionate to undo the Name of the A-lmighty as we are to declare His
Unity! That they found the weakest moment and the most vulnerable ones to
attack sent a powerful signal. We need nothing less than eternal vigilance.
Rabbi Yitzchok Hutner, in his writings Pachad Yitzchok, explains that it
is entirely appropriate here to learn the secret to forging unbreakable
bonds between parents, children, teachers and colleagues on all levels. In
a relay race the most delicate procedure is the point of contact when the
baton is being passed from runner to runner. A mishandling and a fumble
could make the entire difference between victory and defeat.
Moses understood what has been confirmed in scripture and subsequently
through our bitter historical experience that this is a battle for all
time. It's not enough to win in "the now". We must win the war in the
farthest future. Moses and his teachings must stand on "the head of the
hill" not just today but "tomorrow" as well. How is that long term war to
be fought effectively over the course of generations?
There is a profound need for a powerful web of interconnectedness between
each and every caring person and especially at the contact points where
generations interface. Therefore, the text may be understood to mean that
we are locked in a battle not only in each generation but at that delicate
and most vulnerable point of generation to generation.
It is known that as a young man, Rabbi Aaron Kotler was a beloved
disciple of Rabbi Nosson Tzvi Finkel, known affectionately as the Alter
from Slobodka. He used to engage Reb Aaron in Torah conversations that
lasted late into the night. So that his student would not be afraid to
walk home at such hours Reb Nosson Tzvi would escort him through the side
streets of Slobodka to the main road. There he would stand and call loudly
after his student to dispel his fear until he entered his house.
It's impossible to measure the future impact of that investment of time
and caring. How much fear did Reb Aaron dispel in his lifetime? The
sainted Chofetz Chaim is reported to have said regarding The Alter, "I
write books. Reb Nosson Tzvi creates people." It is in this type of
creative activity that ultimate victory is promised.
Text Copyright © 2003 Rabbi Label Lam and
Project Genesis, Inc.