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Shabbat Zachor and Purim: Baseless Hatred from Within and Without

02/18/2021 12:58:52 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

This Shabbat is Shabbat Zachor, when recall how the Amalekites attacked the weary and infirm Israelites upon their escape from Egypt. Commentators note that the Amalekites had no logical reason to attack us. It is not as if we were disputing land rights. They were not among the tribes in the land of Canaan, which God swore to the Israelites.

So why did the Amalekites attack?

Our midrash notes that the Amalekites attacked the Israelites for no other reason than illogical and baseless hatred. They were just hateful, and so they engaged in hateful acts.

Shabbat Zachlor occurs immediately prior to Purim because Haman himself was a descendant of Amalek. He shared his people’s ancestral hatred of Israel.

We like to believe that Amalek and Haman are the worst “other” there is. But our tradition teaches that all of us at times engage in baseless hatred. We all sow hate, both among our very own and among outsiders.

When we shout and yell and stamp out Haman’s name at our upcoming Purim services and shpiel, let us be thinking not only of the baseless hatred that hateful Amalekite. Let us also be aware of the hatred that we harbor in our own hearts.

But mostly, let’s have fun. It’s Purim!

Rabbi Jeffrey Weill

Tue, August 3 2021 25 Av 5781