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INSIGHT: Bye Bye, Amalek!

Never Forget AMALEK!

Never Forget AMALEK!

Amalek! The name itself is frightening! It reminds us of a cold-blooded nation ready to destroy, annihilate, and completely wipe out HaShem’s holy nation – Bnei Yisrael.

Amalek! Amalek and all his evil descendants – such as the horrible, hotheaded Haman, villain of the Purim story. He tried with all his might to get rid of Bnei Yisrael. Instead, the evil Haman was kaput (finito… finished… the end of him…), and we gained a wonderful holiday called Purim. (And let’s not forget the Queen of Persia book and animated movie.)

Now back to our Parsha:

In our Parsha, Parshas Ki Seitzei, we learned all about being kind to all living beings, humans and even animals. But the evil Amalek is an exception…no kindness for them!

Moshe said, “Zachor! Remember! Remember what Amalek did to you on your way out of Egypt, when you were tired, thirsty, and exhausted. Remember how Amalek fought us! Never forget this!”

Indeed, this battle happened right after the most dramatic moment in all of Jewish history: Krias Yam Suf – the splitting of the Sea of Reeds and Bnei Yisrael walking between the water on dry land. Then the walls of water crashed down and drowned the Egyptians who had been chasing after the Jews. It was a miracle!

News of this great miracle spread, and all other nations were terrified – all of them… except Amalek. They thought they were more powerful than HaShem! And so, just when Bnei Yisrael were at their weakest point, hot and thirsty from the blazing desert sun, Amalek sneaked up from behind and attacked them.

So, Moshe told Bnei Yisrael that they should never forget what Amalek did, and commanded his people to totally wipe them out. Tsooshmeter them!

Shazak insight

Bye Bye, Amalek!

Nowadays, we don’t know who Amalek is. But this Mitzvah is still a part of our lives. Here are a few ways:

  1. A Sofer (Torah scribe) tests his feather quill and ink by writing the Hebrew word “Amalek” and then crossing it out.
  2. Every year, we read the section of this week’s Parsha (called Parshas Zachor) in synagogue on the Shabbos before Purim. That’s because Haman is a descendent of Amalek. So, before we read the Megillah about how Haman wanted to wipe out the Jews, we recall HaShem’s commandment never to forget the danger posed by Haman’s ancestors, Amalek.
  3. On Purim itself, when the Megilah reader reads the word “Haman,” the usually-quiet synagogue is filled with noise for Gragger-Time (a.k.a. Jewish-Spinning-Noisemaker-Device-Time)!

Speaking of Graggers, where do you get one?

You can buy a ready-made at your local Jewish bookstore, or DIY (Do It Yourself) … Fill a can or plastic cup with beans, glue down a cover, decorate it, and presto! You have your very own Gragger.

And if you don’t have a Gragger handy, or if you feel too “grown up” to hold one, just boo, hiss, stamp, hoot, or roar.

Why all that? We are actively “wiping out” Amalek, represented by the evil Haman.

Bye, bye, Haman. Bye, bye, Amalek.

Bottom line: We Jews have interesting customs. But the lesson is clear – It’s dangerous to remain silent in the face of someone who seeks to destroy us.



Geared for Kids... Great for Adults!

Geared for Kids... Great for Adults!

Did you know learning Torah could be this much fun?
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