Amalek: the first terrorist

Tonight at nightfall Jews will celebrate the Jewish holiday of Purim, observed by reading of the Book of Esther, general merrymaking (celebrating the thwarting of the plans of the evildoer Haman [y”sh] to exterminate the Jews of ancient Persia), and mishloach manot (giving of sweet gifts). (Also, in Israel and in Jewish news media, there is something of a tradition of “Purim jokes” that take the place of “April Fools jokes”.)

The Sabbath before Purim is known in Hebrew as Shabbat Zachor (the Sabbath of “Remember!”), when the following verses of the Torah are read (Deut. 25:17-19, my somewhat modernized translation):

Remember what Amalek  did to you, on the way as you came out of Egypt; how he lay in ambush for you, and struck the ones marching in back of you, all the weak ones [i.e., women, children, and the elderly] in your rear, when you were faint and weary; and he did not fear G-d. Therefore it shall be, when the L-RD your G-d will have given you relief from all your enemies around you — in the land that the L-RD your G-d is giving you as an inheritance to possess — that you will blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven: do not forget!

Amalek was, arguably, the world’s first terrorist. The sages teach that he arises in every generation in a different guise: be it [may their names be erased] Haman, Hitler, Arafish, Sodamn Insane, Mahmutt Ahmadinnerjacket,… Unlike ordinary tyrants, who merely seek to oppress and exploit, Amalek’s agenda is nothing less than the destruction of the Jewish people. No compromise of any kind is possible with Amalek.

Remember: and Happy Purim!

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