Tessaveh-Zakhor – Thoughts on the Perasha

It is no coincidence that we read Perashat “Zakhor” the Shabbat before Purim.

As we look towards the celebration of Purim this coming week we remember our enemy Amalek. Zakhor enjoins us to remember each year prior to Purim an enemy that preyed on the vulnerability of Bene Yisrael, and attacked them just as they were leaving Egypt. Were we destined to suffer the wrath of many such enemies, that we are commanded to remember and not forget Amalek? Amalek is defined as a nation that had no empathy towards the newly emancipated children of Israel. They are an enemy which dehumanizes their victim, and therefore they strike with no mercy and without provocation. It is a necessity for each member of Am Yisrael to hear this portion at least once a year because unfortunately in every generation there seems to be an “Amalek” enemy that threatens the same type of evil.

Indeed, on Purim we celebrate the victory of the Jewish People against their archenemy Haman who was a descendant of Amalek. This took place 800 years after the first encounter with Amalek. A question that is always asked: are we the cause for such behavior against us? Of course not! It is offensive to blame the victim. Hashem is warning us against the nature of a specific enemy that without provocation attacks for new reason. The response is clearly to be aware and to defend ourselves. The modern day Amalek also continues to attack.

I review each year at this time the acts of anti-Semitism that occurred during the past year. Unfortunately this past year’s anti-Semitic acts keep increasing. Germany, of all places reports the number of anti-Semitic crimes in the country remains high, with the equivalent of nearly 4 incidents per day in 2017.The use of antisemitic symbols and posts denying the Holocaust increased dramatically in January 2018 compared with the same period in 2016, a World Jewish Congress study revealed.The report, indicate that 30% more posts using antisemitic symbols were recorded, along with twice the number of content denying the Holocaust. Poland, Switzerland and Serbia, jumped into the top 10 countries with the list of countries leading in online antisemitism.

Across the social media platforms, approximately 550 posts per day on average contained the use of neo-Nazi and antisemitic symbols, at a rate of 23 posts per hour. Anti-Semitic acts worldwide included: property damage, and cemetery desecration, conspiracy theories concerning Jews, Holocaust denial, bigoted rhetoric, anti-Zionism and the demonization of Israel. Traditional forms of anti-Semitism persist and can be found across the globe. Classic anti-Semitic screeds, such as ‘The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion’ and ‘Mein Kamp’ remain commonplace. Jews continue to be accused of blood libel, dual loyalty, and undue influence on government policy and the media. The collective effect of unremitting criticism of Israel, coupled with a failure to pay attention to regimes that are demonstrably guilty of grave violations, has the effect of reinforcing the notion that the Jewish state is one of the sources, if not the greatest source, of abuse of the rights of others, and thus intentionally or not encourages anti-Semitism. The United Nations Organization is the worse offender of all.

We are clearly not “remembering” what Amalek is trying to accomplish, to undermine our confidence and destroy our very being. We are remembering so will take advice from the commandment of Zakhor – remembrance. Confidently, deal with our enemies, and always remember what they are capable of.

Hag Purim Sameah!
Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Elie Abadie, M.D.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *