Friday, March 18, 2011

Identifying Amaleq

Today is the 12th day of Adar II, 5771

On the Shabbat that precedes Purim, two Torah scrolls are taken from the ark, one for the regular Parasha and one for a special Maftir from Debarim 25: 'Remember what Amaleq did to you when you were leaving Egypt... he attacked all those defenseless...and he would not fear God".
This text describes our obligation to never forget what Amaleq did to us during our departure from Egypt. Amaleq attacked the Jews without a reason and without a purpose.
Amaleq and his ideological descendants, which are called "Zekher Amaleq" can be identified by the following key factors:
1. Amaleq's hatred toward the Jews is not motivated by greed, territorial claims or revenge. It is pure disinterested hatred. The reasons will always change. Greed, territorial claims are revenge, are often used as the cynical excuse, to disguise Amaleq's true's intention, which is to destroy the Jewish people.
2. Amaleq will attack defenseless Jews, civilians, women and children.
3. Amaleq is driven by a blind irrational subhuman hatred. He won't show compassion even for infants of babies.
4. Amaleq might hate other people temporarily, but his relentless obsession is against the Jews.
5. It is not possible to negotiate with Amaleq. Amaleq will not be satisfied if we surrender or even if we change our religion. Amaleq just wants us to disappear.
6. Amaleq, unfortunately, won't go away.
It is very difficult for non-Jews --and for many Jews with deficient Jewish memory- to understand, admit and acknowledge the real nature of Amaleq's intention. Because Amaleq's behavior is beyond rationality and this kind of existential hatred exists only toward the nation of Israel .
The Torah urges us not to forget --also in the sense of forgiving-- Amaleq because our survival depends on that. If we forget the 'nature' of Amaleq's war against us, we put ourselves at risk of extinction.
Our Chakhamim prescribed the public reading of our first encounter with Amaleq, once every year, on the Shabbat which precedes Purim, when Haman, a loyal descendant of Amaleq sought the destruction of Am Israel.
This Parasha has the special status of being the only Biblical text which reading is a direct Torah commandment. The other Parashiot are of rabbinical status.