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  • Writer's pictureRabbi Yonah Burr

Parshas Zachor: Amalek's World of Nothing

זכור את אשר עשה לך עמלק בדרך בצאתכם ממצרים אשר קרך בדרך ויזנב בך כל הנחשלים אחרים ואתה עיף ויגע ולא ירא אלקים 

Remember what Amalek did to you, on the way, when you were leaving Egypt; that he happened upon you on the way, and he struck those of you who were hindmost, all the weaklings at your rear, when you were faint and exhausted; and he did not fear G-d.

When we are settled in our land, and appoint a king for ourselves, we are commanded to obliterate any memory of Amalek; and until that time, we are commanded to remember what Amalek did to us, and to never forget. 

What is it about Amalek that he represents the embodiment of evil, that we are commanded to never forget and to destroy? Granted, they were the first to attack us when we were alone in the desert, but we have been attacked before- and besides, why did Amalek feel compelled to attack us while we were traveling alone in the desert ‘minding our own business’ so to speak. 

This past Shabbos, we were privileged by a visit from Rav Aron Lopiansky shlita, who shared with us an idea from Rav Gedalya Schor zt”l.  

Our world is a world of סיבה ומסובב  - cause and effect. A, causes B, and B causes C and so on. We can choose to see only the details of this causing that, or we can live higher and see the greater picture, of Hashem the Divine Orchestrator controlling the world. Yes, of course we can always trace the sequence of events, but ultimately, we understand that it is Hashem who is pulling the strings. 

Amalek represented the antithesis of seeing Hashem; אשר קרך בדרך  he ‘happened upon us’ everything by chance, and he fought against us with the worldview of ‘chance’. Don’t see the One behind the events, rather just look at the surface. Don’t live a life of higher purpose, rather live in a world of nothingness and purposelessness  

It is interesting that the Torah emphasizes that Amalek attacked us ‘on the way’. Rav Schor explains, that nowadays, before we have the actual mitzvah to wage war, our job is to destroy the bit of Amalek that is inside of us.  When we drift aimlessly, not living life with a sense of purpose, and just coast with the tide, we are ‘on the way’; neither here nor there, this is also living in nothingness. It was at that point that Amalek saw his chance to attack. 

Haman was a descendant of Agag, the king of Amalek; he too, sought to destroy the Jewish People through ‘nothingness’. He too, spoke of ויספר המן לזרש אשתו ולכל אהביו את כל אשר קרהו  and related to his wife all of the ‘coincidences’  that befell him;  He cast a lot, the epitome of chance, to decide the day of the massacre; and he continued to strategize against us even as he saw the sequence of events unfolding against him. Consistently refusing to acknowledge any Higher Power and purpose.  

This is the evil that we are commanded to remember and blot out; more from within ourselves, than against anyone else, to always be cognizant of why we are here, and what we are supposed to accomplish. 

After we accomplish this, and are able to distinguish between the way of Mordechai and the way of Haman, we truly have what to rejoice about!

Have a wonderful Shabbos, and a Freilechen Purim!

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