3/15/08

Parshas Zachor 5768

by Rabbi Avrohom Yakubov

The maftir of parshas Zachor recounts the story of Amalek's brazen attack on the Jewish People and ends with the words "v''lo yareh Elokim" - he did not fear G-d: the Torah's accusation against Amalek. It might seem strange, however, that the evil nation of Amalek, the arch enemy of the Jews and indeed, the G-d Himself; the true predecessor of the Nazi Germany is accused of not fearing G-d. After all, the fear of G-d is the ultimate requirement that the Torah makes of the Jews and the end result of the lifelong process of learnign Torah and keeping mitzvos. V'atah Yisroel mah Hashem Elokecho shoel meimcha, ki im l'yirah es Hashem Elokecho" - "And now, Israel, what does Hashem, your G-d ask of you? Just to fear Hashem, your G-d".

The Brisker Rov explains that the Torah is pointing out the source of Amalek's mistake. Amalek carefully planned and prepared their attack on the Jews. They attacked at the time that the Jews were especially tired from the travel through the desert, as is pointed out in the Torah - "v'atah oyef v'yageah". They attacked first those Jews who were trailing behind, expelled by the clouds of Glory, they took into account every factor except one - the existence of G-d. All the tactical and strategic factors were favorable to Amalek, they chose the perfect time and place to attack and a perfect strategy, the only thing that they forgot was that the Jews have a G-d that protects them. This mistake was the root of their sin and the sole cause of their downfall.

In the Megilah we find that Haman, the descendant of Amalek repeated the mistake of his ancestors. The Megilah tells us that when he left the palace after Ester's first seudah he was "somayach v'tov lev" - "happy and in good spirit". The Vilna gaon explains the reason for this happiness. Until this point although Haman's plan seemed to be working out, he had one fear, maybe Ester, who grew up in Mordechai's house would decide to protect him and his people and ruin Haman's plans, but now he saw that the only person that she invited to her feast with the king was he, which meant that she liked him better than Mordechai. She was obviously on his side and would not intervene on Mordechai's behalf. Having his last fear calmed, Haman left the palace completely worryless and happy.

On his way home, however, he met Mordechai, who not only did not stand up but did not even move or in any other way acknowledge Haman's presence. Upon seeing Mordechai's tranquility and lack of fear Haman became infuriated. The Gaon explains that until now Haman attributed Mordachai's confidence to the fact that He had raised Ester and had a good reason to rely on her protection. Now, however, that Ester sided with Haman, Mordechai had no one else on whom to rely! If so how could he not be afraid?! Haman was astounded and infurieted. It did not enter his mind that there is still someone else on whom Mordechai could rely - Hashem! V'lo yareh Elokim - Haman was a true descendent of Amalek, and as with his ancestors his lack of fear of G-d was the source of his sin and the cause of his demise, because it was not Ester, that ulitmately saved the Jews, it was Hashem that brought about the miraculous salvation of Purim.

Many commentators say that one of the reasons for reading parshas Zachor is to remember "maaseh Amalek" and to uproot the Amalek within us. Based on the above it can be said that its lesson to us is to always remember Hashem's role in our lives and never to loose sight of His Divine Providence.

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