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Parsha Mitzvot: Zachor: Mitzvot 403-405 – Concepts 598 – 600: The Aderet

The 3rd of Adar is the Yahrtzeit of Rav Eliyahu Dovid Rabinowitz-Teumim, the Aderes (1843-1905). The last part of his name, Teumim denotes the fact that he was a “te’om,” or twin. His mother, Chana, was a descendant of the Baal Halevushim and the Chacham Tzvi. After his marriage, Rav Eliyahu Dovid moved to his wife’s birthplace, Ponovezh. He served as Rav of Ponovezh from 1872 to 1890 and of Mir from 1890 to 1898. He was then asked to assume the position of chief rabbi of Yerushalayim, at the


recommendation of Rav Chaim Ozer Grodzinsky. There, he assisted the 80 year old

Rav Shmuel Salant. Rav Eliyahu Dovid served as the rav of Yerushalayim for four


Wipe out the descendants of Amalek. (Deuteronomy 25:19)

Remember what Amalek did to the Children of Israel as they were leaving Egypt. (Verse 17)

Do not forget Amalek’s atrocities and ambush on our journey from Egypt in the desert. (Verse 19)

(Rambam, Hilchot Melachim U’Milchamoteihem – The Laws of Kings and Their Wars.

Is the Mitzvah to Remember what Amalek did to us with our owns words in our mouths, or must we read the story from the Book?

It seems to me that it is obvious that we must read the Book, since God commanded Moshe, “‘Write this as a remembrance in the Book and recite it in the ears of Yehoshua.” The Talmud (Megillah 18a) teaches that one who recites the Book of Esther by heart has not fulfilled his obligation, since the verse says, “..written in a book (Esther 9).

This is not related to the principle that, “The Written Law may not be recited by heart,” but must be read from a text, which we are not certain is a Biblical commandment. The Mitzvah to Remember is specifically from a text, since there already is a Mitzvah to, “Not forget.” Remembering must mean more than the opposite of forgetting, and therefore must be from a text.

When I was a child I asked: Why does the Talmud need a verse to teach me that I have not fulfilled my obligation if I read the Megillah by heart, if we are forbidden to read the Written Law by heart, my Megillah reading was a “Mitzvah haba b’aveira,” a Mitzvah fulfilled through a sinful act; in this case, reading Written Law by heart? Even if the Mitzvah fulfilled is only Rabbinic, I have not met my obligation if I did a “Mitzvah haba b’aveira.”

(The latter point about Rabbinic law is the subject of debate: The Arah di-Rabbanan, Principle 359, proves that Tosafot [Succah 30a s.v. “Mishum,”] holds that we do not apply “Mitzvah haba b’aveira,” to Rabbinic laws. However, another Tosafot on that page [s.v. Mitoch] determines that the Amoraim themselves debated this issue. See too Sha’agat Aryeh #99, Tzelach [Succah 30a] and Beit Menuchah {Lulav 99: Rule 5])

We can answer that we derive that the source for the principle, “The Written Law may not be recited by heart,” from the law of Zachor – Reading the story directly from a text.

Cheshbonot shel Mitzvah 403-405

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