Parashat Vayikra: Turnabout

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13 Mar 2008

Parashat Vayikra 5768

As remote as it might appear, there is an inherent connection between the holiday of Purim and the Book of Vayikra, and this can be condensed into a single word, “VA’NAHAFOCH” meaning – an etched-in-stone status quo suddenly and unexpectedly reverses itself in a total turnabout.

The word appears in Book of Esther (9:1):

ובשנים- עשר חדש הוא-חדש אדר בשלושה עשר יום בו אשר הגיע דבר-המלך ודתו להעשות ביום אשר שברו איבי היהודים לשלוט בהם ונהפוך הוא אשר ישלטו היהודים המה בשנאיהם

The pasuk relates that on the 13th day in the month of Adar, which was designated by Haman for the murder of all Jews in the territories under King Achashverosh, it all became reversed and:

Instead of the Jews being destroyed, we rose up to destroy our would be murderers.

Instead of Haman hanging Mordechai, Haman was hung along with his sons and Mordechai became the possessor of Haman’s wealth and title.

Instead of the deep secret of Esther’s background, it became public knowledge that she was a Jewish daughter.

The price for restoring a gallon to 3 dollars at the pump, Israel will become the sacrificial lamb.

Instead of the prohibition on rebuilding the Holy Temple mandated by Achashverosh, Esther’s son, Daryavish, who followed Achashverosh on the throne, renewed the original charter of Koresh (Cyrus the Great) permitting the rebuilding of the Temple.

The Book of Vayikra, which sets down the halachot (laws and rituals) of the sacrifices, is the essence of “VA’NAHAFOCH” – reversal.

The great Ramban in his commentary to Vayikra states that the sinner brings his sacrifice to the Temple. There he sees how the animal is slaughtered, its blood captured in a container and sprinkled on the altar, it’s hide stripped from him, and it’s innards burned on the altar. The sinner then internalizes that it is he who is deserving of all these acts, but for the love of HaShem towards His people he was spared.

And with this thought, he is drawn closer to Hashem. The sinner, in thought and deed, is reversed; he is no longer distant from his Father In Heaven, now he is close and a beloved son to Hashem.

We are entering (to be more exact, “have entered”) a period of VA’NAHAFOCH, where what was axiomatic and consistent until now is melting under our feet, just as the great ice ocean of the Arctic is melting before our eyes.

The next president of the United States will not be the traditional youngish, white Protestant male. And as a barrel of oil tops 150 dollars in its march to 200, and at the pump a gallon of gas will cost 8 dollars, the new President will oversee the dissolution of the firmly entrenched friendship between the USA and Israel. The price for restoring a gallon to 3 dollars at the pump, Israel will become the sacrificial lamb.


As Israel feels abandoned by the USA, it will be drawn closer to Russia. There are today in Israel over one million people from the former Soviet Union, who continue to maintain family and business ties with Russia, versus a little more than one hundred thousand Jews from the United States. Russia will supply us with essential oil, and we will be an essential ally to Russia who will need our military capacity.

Iran (modern day Persia of Mordechai and Esther times) will achieve nuclear capability, and will use their nuclear status to arouse the many Moslem republics which are on Russia’s southern border.

It will not be the United States which makes war on Iran, but rather Russia.


The Jews of Eretz Yisrael do not hate. There is no call for vengeance…You say: What a great people! The great Chafetz Chaim would be proud. I think they would hang their heads in shame.

In the near future, the United States in a last ditch attempt to stabilize its currency, will limit the withdrawal of dollars from the country, as did South Africa and others in similar situations.

The dreams of Aliya will then remain only dreams.

The U.S. Selective Service Act will be re-installed to take away your sons and daughters.

With no aliya, no children and no money – the future will be bleak.

In my country, we were witness last week to a calamity, which was felt by all as an earthquake of 9 on the Richter scale. We walk around today, holding our heads, uttering in total disbelief how could HaShem, even within the framework of freedom of choice, have permitted this son of Amalek to enter Yeshivat Mercaz HaRav and shoot to death 8 young, beautiful children of Am Yisrael.

They were learning Torah; the bullets which smashed into their young holy bodies were the bullets which defiled the blood drenched chumashim and gemarot.

And people come to rabbis with the question “Why?”

My answer is VA’NAHAFOCH – to reverse our current situation.

For the last 100 years, the Arabs in the country have murdered our people, and in the last 60 years the surrounding Arab nations have declared war upon war against us.

But for some unfathomable reason, the Jews of Eretz Yisrael do not hate, nor do they anger, nor do they act in vengeance. There is no call from rabbis and roshei yeshiva, not even from the Mercaz Yeshiva for vengeance.

You say: What a great people! What musar! The great Chafetz Chaim and Reb Yisrael Salanter would be proud. But I say they would hang their heads in shame.

In order to destroy Amalek one must hate and be angry. To hate is not politically correct. But HaShem is not a politician, He is a father and a rav to Am Yisrael.

Think of King David when he learned that the King of Moav had murdered his parents and brothers. The Tanach (Shmuel 2 8:2) records that David captured the land of Moav, and at random had two thirds of the male population killed.

David, the author of Tehilim, the rabbi who sat daily to answer people’s halachic questions, knew the importance of anger and vengeance. The Moabites never troubled the Jewish nation again.

I believe, to the degree one can understand massacres as these, that HaShem is trying to pull us out of our apathy. 4000 rockets on the city of Sderot and now Ashkelon, and the people and their government are unconscious. The powers that be in Israel, permit the family of the murderer to set up a mourner tent where thousands of Arabs come to identify with his actions. It is demented!

If the murder of these 8 tzaddikim will not create a spirit of VA’NAHAFOCH we will, God forbid, bear witness to future acts of violence until the leaders will awaken or until a new generation of leaders will arise. Leaders who will not cower before the demands of foreign “gods”, but who will be endowed with the “spirit” of HaShem – the spirit of courage and emuna.

The man we call “The Mashiach” will be endowed with the “ruach” (spirit) which HaShem blessed Moshe, King David and Shimshon before him, as recorded in the TaNaCh.

Rambam (hilchot melachim) states that the people, and indeed the man himself, will not know that he is the Mashiach. It will become clear to all only through his actions. RaMBaM states that he will influence the Jews to return to Torah and will lead the Jewish people in their wars.

The Mashiach will be a rav who will love and draw the people to God. But he will also know how to anger and how to hate the enemies of Israel, and enact from them vengeance for every Jewish tear ever shed.

Shabbat Shalom, Nachman Kahana

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.