Israel Forever

For the week ending 15 March 2003 / 11 Adar II 5763

A Time to Remember

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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"Remember what Amalek did to you"

This Shabbat, the one just before Purim that celebrates the miraculous triumphs over the Amalekite Hamans genocidal plot, Jews throughout the world will read in their synagogues a special additional Torah chapter. In it they will hear G-ds command to never forget the evil that Hamans ancestors, the wicked Amalek nation, perpetrated against their ancestors on their way out of Egypt. They will also be reminded of the fact that Amalek is an enemy of G-d and that it is their duty as the chosen people to wipe out every trace of that wicked enemy.

Fulfillment of this duty is impossible today both because the identity of Amalek is not clear and because such a military action is inconceivable until Messianic times. But what we do achieve through this annual reminder is an internalization of the importance of not remaining indifferent to evil forces that threaten our security. Such a reminder is necessary because there is a tendency in human nature to forget the past and to bask in the delusion that appeasement is preferable to war. Witness the behavior of France in regard to the Iraqi crisis. The French owe their very survival in two world wars to the intervention of the two nations that they are so aggressively opposing in their efforts to rid the world of at least one member of the "axis of evil."

Amaleks suicidal attack on our ancestors was an attempt to deny that they enjoyed Heavenly protection and was, in effect, a declaration of war against belief in G-d. Even if we are unable to physically eliminate this spiritual cancer from the world, we can and must wage an unceasing war against the atheism that Amalek represents.

The best way to win that war is suggested by a beautiful Jewish custom connected to that regular weekly Torah portion of Vayikra that will be read this Shabbat. A child who begins learning Chumash is first introduced to the opening words of this chapter dealing with the sanctity and purity of the Temple sacrifices because "it is appropriate for the pure and innocent youngster to study the laws of the pure and sacred sacrifices".

It is that pure Torah coming forth "from the mouths of babes" which enabled us to triumph over the Amaleks of the past and which will protect Israel forever.

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