Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Ki Kol Elohei ha'Amim Elilim

We say in p'sukei d'zimra: ki kol elohei ha'amim elilim, v'HaShem shamayim asah -- !All of the gods of the nations are as nothing; but HaShem made the heavens! At first glance, the second half of the pasuk has nothing to do with the first half.  It seems to read like: You may be a black belt in karate, but I made my lunch!  While that may make the bully back away since he thinks you're nuts, it's not quite what Chazal had in mind.

Yes, I meant to write "elohei ha'amim".  When we mean G-d, then we say/write Elokim.  When me mean gods, we say/write "elohim".  It is very important, in fact, not to say "elokei" when quoting that pasuk (or part of it), because it needs to be clear that we mean just some natural or supernatural power.  That, in fact, is the reason that judges are also sometimes referred to as "elohim"; in their role as judge, they can wield even the power of life and death.  Let's translate that pasuk again, this time according to its intent as understood by the context: All of the powers (natural and supernatural) of the nations are as nothing; but HaShem made [even] the supernatural world!  No matter how powerful a force is in this world, it is still part of the creation and therefore limited.  HaShem, on the other hand, is outside the whole system -- He created it, after all.

We celebrate that idea with the holiday of Purim.  The holiday takes its name from the actions of Haman when he wanted to destroy klal yisrael.  Haman began his evil scheme by casting lots (Megilas Esther 3:7).  Seems like a pretty minor event in he grand scheme, yet the whole holiday is named for it.  Look more carefully at the pasuk: [...] he cast a "pur", which is a lot [as in lottery, that is], before Haman [...].  Haman was the one casting the lots (purim); what does it mean "before Haman".  The G"ra explains that Haman knew very well that Klal Yisrael operate outside of the natural realm.  The founding mothers were all barren; we only exist because of prayer, because of connecting themselves to HaShem Himself.  Haman was, therefore, not looking for a propitious time to attack; there is no such thing, as we are outside of nature completely.  Haman was looking for a time when he, Haman, would be strongest.  Haman "got it" that we are above nature; he didn't "get it" that we are actually outside of nature.  Haman trying to attacking us is as ludicrous as a character in a video game trying to attack the human player!

That's why we include this pasuk in p'sukei d'zimra; it packs a powerful message.  Regardless of what is going on in the world, we can stand unfazed; HaShem is pulling the strings.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Using a Mitzvah Object for Non-Mitzvah Purposes

As I am -- Baruch HaShem -- getting older, I am more cognizant of the fact that I'd like to stay as healthy as possible right up the moment I leave this world.  Stuff hurting is not the problem (I am told there is an old Russian saying that once you are 40, if you wake up and nothing hurts -- you're dead), stuff not working, however, is a problem.  To that end, for several years now I commute to work by bicycle (weather permitting, 30 minutes on an elliptical machine when weather does not permit).  I recently took up some upper body weight training.  Not because I want to be governor of California, just simply to slow down loss of bone mass and extend my body's healthy span.  Simple hishtadlus.  I have an 18 month old grandson who is just the right weight for arm curls (yes... I am that weak), so I do about 10 reps when I greet him at night.  He laughs, I get my exercise; all good.  (Main problem is explaining to the older ones why zeidy can't give them the same "…

Thought for the Day: Thanking HaShem Each and Every Day for Solid Land Near Water

Each and every morning, a Jew is supposed to view himself as a new/renewed creation, ready for a new day of building his eternal self through Torah and mitzvos.  We begin the day with 16 brachos to praise/thank/acknowledge HaShem for giving us all the tools we need to succeed.  We have a body, soul, and intellect.  We have vision, mobility, and protection from the elements.  Among those brachos, we have one that perhaps seems a bit out of place: רוקע הארץ על המים/Who spreads out the land on/over the water.  After all, it's nice to have a dry place to walk, but does that compare to the gratitude I have for a working body and vision?  As it turns out, I should; as explained by the R' Rajchenbach, rosh kollel of Kollel Zichron Eliyahu (aka, Peterson Park Kollel).  Your best bet is to listen to the shiur; very distant second is to continue, which I hope will whet your appetite for the real thing.

First... since we have dry land, I don't have to slog to work through even a foot…