Parasha Inspiration – Shabbat Zachor

זָכ֕וֹר אֵ֛ת אֲשֶׁר־עָשָׂ֥ה לְךָ֖ עֲמָלֵ֑ק בַּדֶּ֖רֶךְ בְּצֵֽאתְכֶ֥ם מִמִּצְרָֽיִ: אֲשֶׁ֨ר קָֽרְךָ֜ בַּדֶּ֗רֶךְ וַיְזַנֵּ֤ב בְּךָ֙ כָּל־הַנֶּֽחֱשָׁלִ֣ים אַֽחֲרֶ֔יךָ וְאַתָּ֖ה עָיֵ֣ף וְיָגֵ֑עַ וְלֹ֥א יָרֵ֖א אֱלֹהִֽים:

You shall remember what Amalek did to you on the way, when you went out of Egypt, how he happened upon you on the way and cut off all the stragglers at your rear, when you were faint and weary, and he did not fear God.

Deuteronomy 25:17-18

            The Maftir reading for this Shabbat, Shabbat Zachor, is from Deuteronomy 25:17-18. We are to remember (zocher) Amalek. Shabbat Zachor is always the Shabbat immediately preceding Purim.

            We are to remember what Amalek did to us. Amalek attacked us, the weakest among us, the stragglers, he attacked our most vulnerable at their most vulnerable time. What Amalek did was abhorrent, disgusting, and inhuman, and we must never forget.

            We remember what Amalek did as an introduction to the most joyous season of the calendar. Purim, followed by Pesach, are the two festivals most associated with the salvation and redemption of Hashem. The Jewish people are saved, yet, we begin this Festival season with the remembrance of what Amalek did to us.

            This remembrance is a caution. Just as Haman, a true son of Amalek, tried to destroy us; just as we remind ourselves in the Haggadah, in every generation they rise up against us to destroy us, but Hashem is our salvation.

            We remember that the Seleucid Greeks, and then the Romans, slaughtered our sages by the tens of thousands. We remember that it was the Romans that killed our Messiah, though he did not remain in depth’s grip. We remember the horrors of the Shmad and the slaughter of the Crusades. We remember the expulsions from Spain, England, the Netherlands. We remember Bohdan Khmelnytsky and the pogroms of the white Russians. We remember Alfred Dreyfus, the anti-Semitism in France and all of Western Europe. We remember the Nazis and the Holocaust. We remember Gush Etzion. We remember the terrorist attacks against Israel, killing the young and old, the faint and weary, the stragglers at our rear. We remember all these things, because even at our time of greatest joy, Amalek is still here. We remember. Shabbat shalom.


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Rabbi Steven Bernstein

Steve was born on Lag B’Omer in Ann Arbor, MI but was raised in Gainesville, FL. The son of two University of Florida professors, he excelled in the sciences in school. In addition to his normal academic studies, he pursued his Jewish education studying with many Rabbis and professors of Judaic Studies from the University including visiting Rabbis such as Abraham Joshua Heschel and Shlomo Carlebach.