The Sabbath prior to the holiday of Purim is called Parshas Zachor, the portion of remembrance. There is a Biblical command to remember what Amalek did, and to blot out the remembrance of Amalek. There is even a prohibition against forgetting. The Torah portion that gives us these commandments, Deuteronomy 28:17-19, is the special reading this week, the Maftir following the regular reading.

What did Amalek do that was so evil? As described in Exodus 17, Amalek came to wage war against Israel in the desert. The Medrash says that Amalek found the weak, the stragglers, unprotected by the clouds of the Divine Presence, and attacked them.

Usually, war is waged for one of two reasons: conquest or defense. Kings made war to expand their empire, and those attacked were forced to fight to keep what was theirs. Even when the attackers commit horrific crimes, it is part of them taking the property and resources of their victims.

But where was Israel? In the middle of an uninhabited desert. They were wanderers, living in tents. No one could enter the clouds of protection around the camp of the Jews, much less reach the Tabernacle where the golden vessels were. So why would anyone attack them?

Amalek was waging war on Torah, on G-dliness, because that is what set the Jews apart. That was what Amalek could not abide in this world. There was literally no other reason to attack them.

Furthermore, due to the miraculous nature of the Exodus, the Children of Israel were regarded as untouchable, like hot coals. Who would mess with a nation obviously under Divine protection? Although Amalek lost the battle, they still showed others it could be done. The Medrash compares Amalek attacking Israel to a person entering a pool of hot water—although he is burned, he cools the water enough for others to enter.

Purim, of course, celebrates the rescue of the Jewish People from the genocidal plot of the evil Haman, during the Persian kingdom that ruled over the Jews during the First Exile. Parshas Zachor is read before Purim, because Haman’s hateful ideology was one and the same. Haman was called HaAgagi, the Agagite, because he was a descendant of Agag, king of Amalek.

From Haman, to Hitler, to Hamas, the school of Amalek exists with one overarching goal: to exterminate the Jewish Nation, due to its message of morality and human conscience, following in the path of G-d. They are literally waging war against G-d, and that is why, in the end, all their efforts fail. Am Yisrael Chai, the nation of Israel lives, and we seek the day when the very remembrance of Amalek, with its message of hate and destruction, will be lost from the world.

Good Shabbos, and Happy Purim!

Photo Credit: Flavio~ on Flickr

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