Struggle against evilTetzaveh, Exodus 27:20-30:10

Struggle against evilTetzaveh, Exodus 27:20-30:10

Let’s remember Pearl Harbor

As we go to meet the foe

Let’s remember Pearl Harbor

As we did the Alamo

We will always remember

how they died for liberty

Let’s remember Pearl Harbor

and go on to victory.

— “Remember Pearl Harbor,” lyrics by Don Reid, and music by Reid and Sammy Kaye.

Every year, on the Shabbat before Purim, we read a maftir (additional reading) about the Amalakites. This is called Shabbat Zachor. We read this reading at this time because tradition says that Haman was an Amalekite. The Megilla story bears out that he was arrogant and ruthless, looking to destroy anyone who stood in his path of power.

Like his biblical ancestors, Haman was a tyrant who attacked the people of G-d as a way of attacking G-d himself.

“Zachor et asher asah l’cha Amalek,” the text says. “Remember what Amalek did to you by the way, when you came forth out of Egypt; how he met you by the way, and struck at your rear, all who were feeble behind you, when you were faint and weary; and he did not fear G-d. Therefore it shall be, when the L-rd your G-d has given you rest from all your enemies around, in the land which the L-rd your G-d gives you for an inheritance to possess, that you shall blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven; you shall not forget.” (Deuteronomy 25:17)

We first encounter the Amalekites after the splitting of the Red Sea, when they attacked the Israelites in a cowardly way. This struggle was not over land, resources or self-defense. This was a pure struggle over ideology. Amalek hated Israel and wanted to wipe them out.

Just as we remember the attack on Pearl Harbor, here too we resolve to remember what happened and to prevent such a thing from ever happening again. We need to see evil clearly and act against it.

The message of Purim is that we have to struggle against those who would destroy us, and that Hashem will always protect us.

Shabbat shalom and happy Purim.

(This column is a service of the Greater Pittsburgh Rabbinic Association.)