“And the King of Arad the Canaanite Dweller of the South Heard”
Cleaving to the Holy Presence in Our Holy Land
“Shoshanas Yakov… Cursed is Haman; Blessed is Mordechai!” Famous is the teaching that the numerical value of “arur Haman (cursed Haman)” is identical to that of “baruch Mordechai (blessed Mordechai). This is one of the important messages of Purim, teaching us that in truth God is performing the miracle and the blessing of Mordechai ultimately from the very evil plots of the wicked Haman, whose very day of schemed destruction of Israel turned into a great holiday – Purim. Another way we find the close relationship between very opposite forces is the Torah’s reference to both Israel, the nation of Mordechai, and Amalek, the nation of Haman, being called “reshit”, i.e “first/archetypal nations”, as Israel is the archetype of the good nation, while Amalek being its counter on the side of evil. Our Sages teach that “the King of Arad the Canaanite” was actually an Amalekite, but God made him seem to Israel like a Canaanite in order that Israel pray to defeat the Canaanites, the more common nation occupying the Land of Israel. Juxtaposed to this episode is Israel’s surrounding the Edomite territory (by the way, Amalek is a descendant of the Edomites), where they complain and as a result are punished by biting snakes. Indeed, this juxtaposition can be explained by our Sages’ teaching that Amalek is likened to a snake who waited for Israel to pass by its path just after the Exodus to attack them. Similarly, the Talmud teaches that Haman’s name is hinted to in the episode of Hava’s temptation to the snake’s scheme in the Garden of Eden. Also, our Sages teach that Esau/Edom’s “special garment”, used by Yakov to receive the blessings from Isaac, was the skin of the primordial snake from the Garden of Eden (T. Zohar 10b and P. Drebbe Eliezer ch. 24) Fascinatingly, the name for the King of Amalek’s home-city is Arad, which, with a slight change of vowels turns into Arod, which means a cross-species between a snake and a turtle (Hulin 127a). Even more fascinating is our Sages assertion that it is Ana of the fore-mentioned Edomite Territory who was responsible for cross-breeding the snake with the turtle, just as he cross-breeded the horse and the donkey to produce the mule. On this our Sages remark that it is especially this forbidden mix-breeding that characterizes the nature of the Edomite kingdom and especially Amalek (of the Edomite line), a bastard who was born through an illicit inter-family relationship. Indeed, according to the Zohar one of the 5 sub-categories of Erev Rav, which itself means “the Mingling Masses”,is Amalek (Zohar Breshit 225). Elsewhere the Zohar (p. Pinhas) comments that the ability to overcome the “Erev Rav” comes through its parallel, the “mingling/united” powers of good. Indeed, it is Mordechai, considered both a Benjamite, from the line of Rachel, and a Judean, from the line of Leah (controversy in the Talmud Megila exactly how), who calls the people to unite to overcome the decree of Haman, the Amalekite. The numerical value of Mordechai is identical with the sum of Rachel+Leah, which is also identical to the numerical value of “Arad” and “Eder”, which means a flock. In other words, it is Mordechai who is capable of joining the people together to become one “flock- eder” through the hiss of the arod/snake-Amalek/Haman, just as the copper snake reminds the people to have faith that God’s blessing lies in the lesson and faith learned from the snake itself. The term “eder-flock” is first used in the Torah in context of the “three flocks surrounding the well” which hints to the three unifying Patriarchs of Hebron, according to the teachings of our Sages. Indeed, this is Hebron, the City of Unity, whose numerical value (266) with the 4 great couples (=8) buried within it, equals the numerical value of Arad and Mordechai (274), the uniting leader.
Real Stories from the Holy Land: “One day I found a lost book, so I took it to return it to its owners. I then turned to study a section of Torah, which just “happened” to discuss the returning of a lost belonging…” I.G