Thursday, February 21, 2013

Dvar Torah for Parshas Zachor/Purim 5773 (2013)--Week of Parshas Tetzaveh

AIMeMTorah would like to thank Daniel Sax for writing this week's Dvar Torah.

       Every year on the Shabbos before Purim, we fulfill a Torah commission to read Parshas Zachor. It includes the commandment of remembering Amalek and what they have done to the Jewish people, and our instruction to eliminate them not only physically but spiritually as well.  The commandment is so extensive that we are told to eradicate Amalek’s animals as well, so that we leave no trace of Amalek’s existence in this world.
       On Purim we read, “מִלְחָמָה לַיהֹוָה בַּעֲמָלֵק מִדֹּר דֹּר “…a war for Hashem against Amalek from generation to generation” (Shemos 17:16). It also says in Parshas Zachor, “זָכוֹר אֵת אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה לְךָ עֲמָלֵק בַּדֶּרֶךְ בְּצֵאתְכֶם מִמִּצְרָיִם. " אֲשֶׁר קָרְךָ בַּדֶּרֶךְ “Remember what Amalek did to you on the way, when you went out of Egypt. How he happened upon you on the way…” (Devarim 25:18-19). A popular question asked is to why is the word “way” repeated? 
       Amalek attacked the Jewish people immediately following their exodus from Egypt. This was a real test for the Jews. They had just received the Torah with G-d declaring them as His people; and suddenly, just as the Jews seemed vulnerable, Amalek attacked, albeit unsuccessfully. Amalek has since haunted the Jewish People until this very day.  We can see a clear trend as to when Amalek attacks. The attacks come every time the Jews are in a transition period.  Right after the Torah was given we were attacked, Shmuel HaNavi had an endless fight with Agag—the king of Amalek, following the destruction of the first Beis Hamikdash (Holy Temple) we were threatened by Haman as part of the Purim miracle, and even recently following the declaration of the State of Israel we were attacked by our surrounding neighbors. All these were moments of transition when the Jewish people were perhaps most vulnerable. Choosing to attack only at these times displays the cowardice of the Amalek nation. 
       The first time the pasuk says “way” refers to that present time in the desert when the Jews were closest to G-d and Amalek came to battle for the first time. The repetition of the word “way”, ties into the first pasuk we quoted from Shemos. Although Amalek was defeated in the desert, they continued to strike from generation to generation and into the modern era. It will be an endless war until we can completely eradicate Amalek as we are commissioned too. Achieving this will lead to the rebuilding of the third Beis Hamikdash where there will be no Amalek to come against us.
       Haman was a descendant of Agag, the king of Amalek in the times of the Prophets. The reason why we read Parshas Zachor on the Shabbos prior to Purim is because Megillas Esther (The Book of Esther) is one of the Jewish People’s many battles with Amalek.  Haman threatened to wipe out every single Jew in the world but did not succeed. G-d is never directly mentioned in the story of Purim but we know that He was “hidden” throughout the 14 year time period of the Megillah. But even without G-d’s “direct” presence, Mordecai, Esther, and the Jewish People prevailed and defeated Amalek once again. This is a lesson that we can apply for ourselves today.  G-d is “hidden” in our time and Amalek continues to discreetly threaten us, but if we remain true to G-d’s with Torah and Mitzvos, we will come out on top just like Mordecai and Esther did. 

Shabbat Shalom and A Frailichin Purim!

Daniel Sax studied at Yeshivas Derech Etz Chaim in Jerusalem. He currently studies in Duquesne University. He is a first-time contributor to Ancient Ideas for the Modern Mind.

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