2000(always read the Shabbat before Purim)
Is the Jewish Revenge Equal to Amalek?
This week is the Shabbat before the holiday of Purim. In commemoration of this, we read a portion of Deuteronomy concerning Amalek.
17. Remember what Amalek did to you by the way, when you came forth out of Egypt;
18. How he met you by the way, and struck at your rear, all who were feeble behind you, when you were faint and weary; and they did not fear God.
19. Therefore it shall be, when the Lord your God has given you rest from all your enemies around, in the land which the Lord your God gives you for an inheritance to possess, that you shall blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven; you shall not forget it.
Your Torah Navigator
1. Why do we read this section of the Torah prior to Purim?
2. We are commanded to remember always what Amalek did to us. What did Amalek do that was so terrible? There were other nations who attacked Israel in the desert, why aren't we commanded to remember them?
3. What is the connection between the land of Israel and Amalek?
4. What do we learn from the fact that the Torah says "and they did not fear G-d"? Who is the "they?" Israel or Amalek?
The Zohar's Explanation
Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2,Page 65a
Rabbi Judah said, "It is written, 'Amalek is the first of the nations; but his latter end shall be that he perish for ever'" (Num. XXIV, 20). Was, then, Amalek the first of the nations? Were there not many tribes, nations, and peoples in the world before Amalek came?
The meaning is that Amalek was the first nation who feared not to proclaim war against Israel, as it says, "and he feared not God" (Deut. XXIV, 18); whilst the other nations were filled with fear and trembling before Israel at the time of the Exodus, as it says: "The peoples heard and were afraid; trembling took hold of the inhabitants of Pelesheth" (Ex. xv, 14).
In fact, apart from Amalek, there was no nation that was not awestruck before the mighty works of the Holy One, blessed be He. Therefore "his latter end shall be that he perish for ever."
Your Zohar Navigator
Amalek's only "sin" was that of chutzpah -- they were the first to attack Israel, immediately after Israel left Egypt. Why did God punish Amalek so severely for this seemingly minor infraction?
Our God is known as a god of mercy. Usually we're known as a compassionate and caring nation, but sometimes we need to remember that we're not allowed to forget. Our obligation as a nation, and as a people, is to remember and to transfer to the next generation the memory of our history. We must remember our complete history, including the parts that are unpleasant.
Shabbat Shalom and have a wonderful Purim!
Prepared by Rabbi Meni Even-Israel, Hillel at SUNY Stony Brook.