Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Amalek Within

Parshat Tetzaveh (Shabbat Zachor)
Shmot 27:20 - 30:10
13 Adar 5773 / Feb. 22 - 23, 2013

The Amalek Within
by Laura W (Formerly of MH London)

Shabbat Zachor is the Shabbat just before Purim. Zachor means to Remember and refers to the commandment to remember Amalek's attack which is read out in the synagogue on this Shabbat morning:

'Remember what Amalek did to you on the road, on your way out of Egypt. That he encountered you on the way, and cut off those lagging to your rear, when you were tired and exhausted; he did not fear God. Therefore . . . you must obliterate the memory of Amalek from under the heavens. Do not forget.' (Deuteronomy 25:17–19)

What is the significance of Amalek and what is the connection to Purim?

The Scroll of Esther (3:1) identifies Haman as the descendent of Agag, King of Amalek. Jews are described as being a "light unto the nations" (Isaiah 42:6). The Jews stand for the principle of caring for the vulnerable and weak, Amalek is the opposite "attacking the weakest people trailing behind" (Deut. 25:18). In the Purim story Haman attempts to ethnically cleanse the Jewish people within the Persian Empire.

Megilla (scroll) is connected to the Hebrew word megalleh which means to reveal. Hashem's name is not mentioned in Megillat Esther however there is no doubt that Hashem is in the Purim story. The numerical value of the Hebrew letters that make up the word "Amalek" is 240. This is the same value as the Hebrew word safek, meaning doubt. One of Amalek's battle tactics is to create doubt about God's presence, in an attempt to confuse and ultimately destroy the Jewish people. 

I understand Amalek as the inner critic. The voice which makes us doubt ourselves, our belief in God, our unique cosmic path in the universe and our commitment to Torah. By removing unhealthy thoughts and attitudes we can truly free ourselves from our own personal Egypt and celebrate. 

Shabbat Shalom and Purim Sameach!



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