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The Torah tells us “ Timcheh es zecher amalek ”. Rashi explains that this is an obligation to obliterate the memory of Amalek and even  to forbid the mere mention of Amalek. This halacha also includes destroying their animals, lest someone says “this animal belongs to Amalek ”, and it will have caused the forbidden mention of Amalek.

Shaul Hamelech tragically fell from grace when he mistakenly rationalized and overrode this halacha . He argued that the animals did not sin and therefore should not be destroyed. Chazal tell us that this was a grave mistake. When Hashem commands there is no room for one’s own human calculations. No mortal can begin to fathom Divine intention . Chazal apply the proverb “ al tihi tzadik harbeh ” to Shaul. The will of Hashem must be enforced sans cheshbonos .

An awesome story, involving the Abarbanel, is told. Rav Yitzchok Abarbanel served in the highest echelons of the Spanish government as the Treasury minister. The king greatly admired him for his intelligence, integrity and efficient management of his department. As is common in such situations, the other ministers envied him and plotted his downfall. They convinced the king to test the Abarbanel’s trustworthiness and the king acquiesced to their plot. The Abarbanel was ordered to document an exact accounting of all his possessions. After three days, the Abarbanel presented a total calculation of his net worth, amounting to seven hundred thousand rubles. Upon review, the ministers scoffed at this outrageous document full of lies and inaccuracies. The Abarbanel’s house, alone, was worth double the amount listed, and his properties, including fields and vineyards, were worth huge amounts of money that were not even accounted for. To verify their suspicions they hired an assessor to calculate the worth of his entire portfolio and based upon his findings, the Abarbanel was found guilty of falsifying the tally of assets. The king was infuriated.

To add to the king’s ire, a trusted, personal attendant of the Abarbanel was bribed to steal classified documents from the Abarbanel’s house and hand them over to the foreign minister. The foreign minister in turn lied to the king that the Abarbanel divulged to him classified information. Upon this revelation, the king resolved to have the Abarbanel punished by death. In order to avoid a public outcry, the king concocted a plan how to discreetly carry out the death sentence.

There was a brick factory several kilometers away whose fiery furnace remained lit day and night. It was decided that there in the fiery furnace the Aabarbanel would meet his deserved end. The king summoned the Abarbanel and handed him a sealed letter with the royal signet and ordered him to deliver it immediately to the operator of the brick factory. In the letter it stated that the operator of the factory should throw the bearer of the letter into the furnace and it should remain a state secret. The king was highly confident that with this ingenious plan the matter would be resolved without highlighting any suspicion of his own involvement in the disappearance of the highly acclaimed treasury minister.

The Abarbanel hastily departed to the factory to fulfill the will of the king accompanied by his “loyal” attendant. As they were exiting the city they encountered a Yid standing in the crossroads signaling to them to halt. As they stopped, the Yid approached them and pleaded with the Abarbanel, explaining that eight days ago his wife had given birth to a baby boy and the appointed moihel had taken ill. They were, now, desperately searching for a replacement to perform this heilige mitzvah and he was asking if the Abarbanel himself would oblige them and come to perform the bris milah. The Abarbanel quickly made a cheshbon that he was already commanded by the king to fulfill his command but the will of Hashem supersedes everybody and anything. “How can I forego ratzon Hashem and instead fulfill the will of a mere mortal?” Without delay, he sent his attendant to deliver the letter, and instructed him to wait by the factory until he returns from performing the bris . He then proceeded to accompany the father of the newborn.

When the Abarbanel finished his mission, he continued on to the factory and to his chagrin he was told that by decree of the king, his attendant was thrown into the furnace. The factory owner added that before he was cast into the fire, he confessed to his betrayal of the Abarbanel, and, that the attendant had stolen the classified documents, and framed his boss. The Abarbanel was awestruck, at what was really designed to happen to him, when he was to personally submit the royal letter to the factory owner.

The Abarbanel professed endless thanks to Hashem for this miraculous salvation from certain death. Clearly this was a fulfillment of the Possuk,”Shomer mitzvah lo yada davar ra ”- “he who guards a mitzvah shall not know any bad”.

The next day, upon his arrival at the king’s palace, the king was obviously taken aback, and chastised him for not fulfilling the king’s command to deliver the royal letter. At this point, the Abarbanel informed the king of what took place and of the admission of the attendant.

The king, after gaining his composure, said, “I have just one question; why did you underreport your assets in your accounting? “The Abarbanel answered, “I reported my true worth! The seven hundred thousand rubles that I reported are a calculation of the amount of tzedakah that I distributed; that amount is mine eternally. The rest of my assets can and may be confiscated from me any moment!”

What a valuable message! Following the word of Hashem with precision, without personal cheshbonos is the path to success and greatness. His mitzvos are our guardians and protection.

Combining two korahs

A korah must be at least a tefach wide. According to some Rishonim one may place two korahs that are each narrower than a tefach within three tefachim of each other. The halachic concept of lavud will close the gap between the two korahs creating one korah that is a tefach wide. One of the beams may also be placed above the other, provided that they are within three tefachim of each other. However, one of the beams may not be higher than twenty amos off the ground. It may also not be placed lower than ten tefachim from the floor.  

שו"ע שסג, כב-כג, ומשנ"ב סט, ע, עג ו־עה; וראה שם, צד

How close must the two korahs be?
According to the above-mentioned view, korahs that are halachically connected are acceptable. The novelty of this view is that although practically they cannot support a brick that is a one and a half tefachim wide, it is not necessary since it is viewed ( halachically) as one large beam. Other Rishonim maintain that in order to combine two narrow korahs, they must be placed in a way that they can actually support the brick. It follows, according to this view, that one beam may not be higher than the other one (although they are within three tefachim). In addition, the two beams must be within a tefach of each other in order to be able to support the brick. One should follow this view.

שו"ע שסג, כב-כג, משנ"ב עא, עב ו־עז, ושעה"צ נב; וראה שם נ, וביה"ל ד"ה שצריך; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 65 ,וראה עוד שם

Creating a korah that is four tefachim wide

A korah that is four tefachim wide does not have to be strong enough to support a brick. However, according to the stringent view mentioned above, if for example a person would place two beams that are each three quarters of a tefach wide within a space of two and a half tefachim it would not be valid. Although based on the rule of lavud is considered as if there is a four tefach beam, practically, it cannot hold the brick and is therefore unacceptable.

[ ביה"ל שסג, כב ד"ה בתוך; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 63]
  • A korah must stretch from one end of the opening of the alleyway to the other end and it must also be a tefach wide. It must be strong enough to support a brick that is three tefachim long and one and a half tefachim wide.

  • A circular korah must have a circumference of three tefachim.

  • Measuring a tefach

  • An opening larger than ten amos

  • A korah higher than twenty amos
PLEASE NOTE: The information in this email is for learning purposes only. Please review the Mishna Berura and Biurim U'Musafim before making a halachic decision. Hebrew words are occasionally transliterated to enable a smoother reading of the text. Common Ashkenazi pronunciation is generally used in these cases.
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