Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Purim - Baderech – On the way to redemption

Purim is coming up! In yeshiva, already on rosh chodesh adar you could feel purim coming in. I remember how after tfillat Arvit (maariv for you ashkenazis :-)) on rosh chodesh adar, there was a second of silence in the whole beit midrash before one of my friends started singing: “Mishenichnas Adar Marbim Besimcha”. The whole beit midrash then start dancing in what became the opening ceremony of the preparations for purim.

However, before we get to Purim, we need to get to Shabbat Zachor. This is not “stam”, as you will see.

Shabbat Zachor is the Shabbat in which we fulfill the obligation of remembering what Amalek did to us. In Judaism, when we remember, we do not just have an intellectual experience. On Pessah, when we remember the story of Egypt, we re-enact it in a seder. Therefore, in order to really remember Amalek, I thought it would be appropriate to take a deeper look into the nature of Amalek and especially, to find out when they are most strong and how to defend ourselves against them.

In the Tanach, Amalek has attacked us twice: Once on our way out of Egypt and once in the story of Purim. In the past generations, Amalek has also attacked us. The GRA said on a certain gemara that Amalek was now resting in Germany. At the time he wrote this, there was no reason think of Nazi Germany. We sadly saw that the Gra was right. Our most recent enemies, the Palestinian terrorists, while not genetically amalek, use the same techniques as amalek by attacking civilians, the same way Amalek attached us by the back when we left Egypt. Therefore, we will analyze all 3 encounters our people have had with Amalek in order to better understand when amalek attacks us and what we can do to stop them today.

When we went out of Egypt, we had just started our way to Erets Israel. Am Israel was for the first time, as a nation, moving towards erets Israel. Pharo has recognized the rights of Am Israel to Erets Israel. As soon as we start making our way to erets Israel, Amalek rises and tried to stop us. As the passouk says:

'זכור את אשר עשה לך עמלק בדרך' . Remember what amalek did to you : “on the way”

Amalek is the movement which tries to stop us from reaching our national purpose of being one nation on it’s land. What is our response to this? Well, in this war, our response was not complete as Gd told Moses once we are back on the land of Israel, we will need to go in a war with Amalek to destroy them. Only when we are on our land, as a complete nation, will we be able to fight amalek. As long as we are outside our land, our national light is still dimmed and therefore we do not have the strength needed to fight Amalek.

In the story of purim, the same thing happened. Hatsharat Koresh, the declaration of Cyrus, gives the Jewish Nation to right to their Ancestral Homeland and the right to build the holy temple:


“In the first year of Cyrus, king of Persia, upon the conclusion
of the Lord's prophecy, by the mouth of Jeremiah, the Lord aroused the spirit of
Cyrus, king of Persia, and he issued a proclamation throughout his kingdom - and
in writing as well, saying, "Thus said Cyrus the King of Persia, 'All the
kingdoms of the earth has the Lord, God of heaven, given to me and He has
commanded me to build him a Temple in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever is
among you of His entire people - may his God be with him - and let him go to
Jerusalem which is in Judah and build the Temple of the Lord..." (Ezra 1:3)

Then Haman rises and tries to destroy us. As soon as Am Israel gets the right to go back to Erets Israel, to be a nation again, to have its temple rebuilt, Amalek comes up and tries to stop us. What is our response then? Esther tells us: “Lech, Knos et Kol Hayehudim”, go and bring together all the Jews. When we are together, when we act as a national, then our national light can take away the darkness of Amalek.

In our generation, in a stunningly similar turn of events, Amalek rose after Hatsharat Balfour, the Balfour Declaration, was declared and gave Jews the right to go back to the land of Israel and start the first steps of national independence. As soon as Amalek hears about National Independence, they rise. Some people will make you think the Nazis just wanted to kick the Jews out of Germany, but plans were found for concentration camps in the Land of Israel! The amazing miracle was that as soon as they tried getting to Israel, they got stuck.
Today, a new enemy with the same techniques as Amalek is attacking us. Palestinian Terrorism is trying to dim the light of Jewish Nationalism. They are trying to make us leave our land. They are trying to stop us from moving forward, slowly slowly, in the rebuilding of our temple. Our answer can only be one answer: “Lech Knos et Kol Hayhudim”. We need to unite, come together, forget our differences and be united by the sole fact that we are all part of the Jewish Nation. Rav Kook taught that there was a soul called “Nishmat Haklal” or “Nishmat Ha-ouma”, the soul of the nation of Am Israel, which, while being its own soul, also formed part of the soul of every Jew. If one realizes that, he realizes that when we say we form the same body, those are more than just words. When we look at a Jew and we realize part of him is that national soul which is “helek eloka mimaal mamash”, “really a part of God”, then we start understanding what real unity is. When we look at our own soul and see how important of a part this national soul takes of it, then we can truly start to connect to the national message of Am Israel and bring our its light to take away the darkness of Amalek.

May the challenges brought to us by Amalek just strengthen us in our derech, our way, towards the rebuilding of the beit hamikdash, which started with the Balfour Declaration, continued on with the building of the state of Israel, the reunification of Jerusalem, and keeps going on, slowly, slowly, every day.

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