Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Don't Forget to Erase the Memory of Amaleik

My youngest chavrusa asked a great question this shabbos; in fact, two great questions.  first, since we have a whole holiday/ceremony about talking about y'tzi'as mitzrayim, why do we need a mitzvah to remember y'tzi'as mitzrayim every day?  Second, since we have a whole holiday/ceremony about wiping out Ameleik, why do we need a mitzvah every day to remember Ameleik?  This from a young man who was having trouble in a regular classroom setting when he we was in third grade and so transferred to Gesher HaTorah Day School.  He is now (just this year) mainstreamed back to a regular limudei kosdesh program and made honor roll his first semester.  A beautiful example of why Gesher HaTorah is such an important addition to the chinuch in our community.

Of course I (and everyone else as the Shabbos table) let him know what great questions those are.  Then I told him that the Beis haLeivi asks his first question and explained there is a difference between "z'chira" (remembering) and "hagada" (retelling) the events of y'tzi'as mitzrayim.  We talked about that for a few minutes and then it was time for dessert.  Good thing, because I didn't have a great answer for his second question.  I got off easy; whew!

The next morning, his grandmother asked basically the same (second) question; though she asked a little differently.  She is amazed that the media never picks up on the fact that every year we all go to our respective synagogues to make an announcement that we are never to forget to destroy the nation of Amaleik -- man, woman, and child; showing no mercy.  As if that isn't bad enough, she continued, we have an obligation to remember that every single day.  What did they do that is so bad that requires such a public and continuous reminder?  A beautiful example of what the Beis Yaakov movement did for our Nashim Tzidkanios.  She, of course, was not satisfied with "great question" and dessert.  Fortunately, I had been fortunate enough to (quite by happenstance, of course) run across a chidush that I think answers the question quite well.

When Haman approached Achashverosh to wipe out the Jews, he offered a huge sum of money to fund the project.  The Malbim notes that it is a very low thing to take money to kill people, especially an entire people who haven't done anything wrong other than keeping their own customs.  Moreover,
Achashverosh certainly knew the entire contents of the M'gilas Esther, being as Esther was his queen and Mordechai his prime minister.  How in the world would Achashverosh permit such a damning statement to be made about him and publicly repeated in all the Jewish communities year after year? The Malbim answers that Haman chose his words carefully.  He presented his idea as a plan of assimilation; to mainstream the Jews, as it were, into Persian culture.  That takes funding, of course.  Offers of support to schools, for example; but then requiring teaching about the surrounding culture or clubs that invite ideas of the surrounding culture.  All very friendly.  Let's just erase barriers and learn to accept one another.  You know, like America and pre-Nazi Germany.

We certainly do not need a mitzvah to remember that the Nazis are evil.  We certainly do need mitzvah to remember that a friendly seeming Amaleiki is only -- always only -- trying to get close enough to kill you; every man, woman, and child.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Sometimes a Food Loses Its Identity When It Loses Its Bracha; Sometimes It Doesn't

Let's start with a question: Why are We Allowed to Drink Coffee and Whiskey Made by Non-Jews?  Before you ask,"Why would I think that I shouldn't be able to drink whiskey and coffee made by non-Jews?", I'll tell you. Simple, we all know that Chazal made a decree -- known as בישול עכו''ם/bishul akim -- that particular foods cooked by non-Jews are forbidden.  There are basically two criteria that determines if a dish falls into this category:
Is not consumed raw.Fit for a royal banquet. Cooked carrots, therefore, are not a problem since they can be eaten raw (I actually prefer them that way).  Baked beans are find because the are not prestigious enough.  (For great synopsis of the laws, see the article on the Star-K site, FOOD FIT FOR A KING, by Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, shlita.)  There are lots of cool questions and details (baked potatoes are prestigious, does that make even potato chips and issue?) which are for another time.  Clearly, though, both coffee an…

Thought for the Day: Coming Into This World for Torah, Avodah, and Acts of Loving Kindness

This TftD is so self-serving that I should be embarrassed.  But I am not... talking about grandchildren is always off budget.  I have, bli ayin hara, a beautiful new grandson; born at 6:11 PM CDT last Friday night.  The secular (aka -- by me, anyway -- slave) date is October 20, 2017 CE.  The Hebrew (aka Real) date is certainly Rosh Chodesh חשון/Cheshvan and certainly in the year 5778 since Creation.  The date, you ask... good question!

Sundown on Friday night was 6:01 PM CDT, which means he was born either at the end of the last day of תשרי or the beginning of the first day of Cheshvan; a period know as בין השמשות/twilight.  What's the big deal, you ask... I am so glad you asked.  We all deal quite handily with בין השמשות every week and every holiday; we're just stringent.  We start Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov before בין השמשות; that is, before sundown.  Likewise, we end Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov after בין השמשות; some 42, 50, 60, or 72 minutes after sundo…