Sunday, March 12, 2006


What is Amalek, what is he all about? The Torah says that Amalek had no regard for G-d at all.

When the Jews were leaving Egypt, Amalek and his boys attacked the Yids from behind in an attempt to destroy them. Think about this, this takes a lot of chutzpah; in a place and time when G-d was making amazing things happen to the Jews in front of everyone's eyes, Amalek decided that this would nevertheless be an acceptable time to make an attack. It's not that Amalek did not understand that G-d was tangibly active in the lives of the Jewish people, he understood and saw that He was but did not care; it was a direct affront to G-d's Presence. He was basically saying, "Up yours."

Rabbi Brumer said an interesting thing about this parsha, he said that Amalek stands for random chance. In the parsha we see that Amalek, by chance, came upon the Jewish people; he did not see their trek as being under the control of any Divine Being such as G-d, rather, chance was their pilot.

How does this make sense? So big deal, so Amalek believed in chance, how big of a sin is that? This is how it made sense to me; Amalek was a person of a philosophy and worldview that said that there is no ruler to anything, that what's done is done and that nothing really causes this world to function the way that it does. In this world, it is no wonder that Amalek felt no qualms doing what he did, he did not perceive G-d to be a real force in the world, perhaps he thought that the miracles that just occurred were chance. Even if G-d did exist, it didn't figure at all in to how it reflected human actions, and so he attacked the Jews.

This ties into Purim specifically because Haman is a descendant of Amalek. G-d commanded the Jews to wipe out all of Amalek's nation and all that belonged to them, but they did not, and a few thousand years later, in Persia, a Hitlerian figure rose to power and was respected by the Persian king Achasverosh (Ahasuerus, or Xerxes) and found a way to annihilate the entire Jewish population in the Persian Empire. The Talmudic commentary explains that what could have been an act of mercy towards the Amalekites caused as much bloodshed as it did, which would have been avoided had the Jews carried out the command as it was given. An eerie, yet chanceful occurrence that today's "prince of Persia," the Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmedinajad, is also calling for an annihilational program for the Jewish people, in the form of a nuclear attack on the State of Israel.

Is there a familial, or biological, tie between Amalek, Haman, and Ahmedinajad? Such a thing would be extremely difficult in determining, but one thing is for sure, that we cannot buy into the standpoint that G-d is not acting or withdrawn, or that things occur only by chance; today Amalek is manifested in a viewpoint that attributes everything to humanity and nothing to G-d, and as Jews, we cannot ingest this worldview. That is how Amalek sees things, and it is not how the Jews should see things.