This week, we read Parshas Zachor, which is the biblically-ordained mitzvah of “mechias Amalek,” erasing the face of Amalek, an archenemy of the Jewish people for thousands of years. I have often wondered what is so unique about the war with Amalek; after all, the Jews have had many enemies over the years. Our victory over Amalek took place many years ago, so why does it require a global gathering of Jews and a special mitzvah every year? A second question posed by the Slonimer Rebbe, zt”l, the Nesivos Shalom, is why the word “zachor,” in singular form, is used, and not “zichru,” the plural form, when referring to a mitzvah for all of Klal Yisrael. In his essay on Parshas Zachor, the Nesivos Shalom mentions a number of concepts that perhaps shed light on these questions. Wherever there is tremendous kedusha and holiness, said the Rebbe, there is an equal amount of impurity. “Zachor” is a command for each individual to remember in every generation. Although we are experiencing a spiritual rebirth of Torah across the world, we must remember that the challenges of impurity are stronger than ever. The Nesivos Shalom then comments on three principles:
• Any day in which a Jew does not struggle with the challenge of personal growth is not a real day of living.
• Any day in which a Jew does not perform an act of kindness is not a real day of living.
• The method of personal growth is through limud haTorah and education. The war with Amalek took place in Refidim, and our commentaries state that the reason for this attack was, “Sherafu yedaihem min haTorah – Their hands were weakened in the study of Torah.”
Two weeks ago in Israel, 600,000 Jews gathered for an atzeres tefillah, and this past Sunday in New York, tens of thousands of Jews joined together at the request of our Torah leaders and rabbonim to once again storm the heavens in prayer. The goal of these events was best described by Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel of Agudath Israel of America:
“B’siyata diShmaya, we have been privileged in recent years to witness the flourishing of Torah study across the globe, and especially in Eretz Yisroel. In the aftermath of the destruction of European Jewry seventy years ago, when so many predicted the demise of Torah-true Judaism, we take pride and solace in this open manifestation of the yad Hashem. We join in solidarity with the hundreds of thousands of Jews who gathered in the streets of Yerushalayim this past week to pour out their hearts in tefillah. Our dear brethren in Eretz Yisrael: Know that the Torah community in America stands with you in this difficult moment of challenge. If the underlying principle of the atzeres was solidarity with the Israeli Torah world, the theme of the atzeres in Manhattan, which drew groups from across the entire East Coast, was achdus.” Rabbi Zwiebel said.
I learned a few profound lessons from these tefillah assemblies. The gathering of Ashkenazim, Sefardim, Chassidim and Jews of every stripe and color was an amazing and unprecedented show of achdus. Just as Mordechai Hatzaddik, the leading Torah authority of his generation, instructed all of the Jews to join together in fasting and prayer, we heed the call of our Torah leaders and gather together in prayer. Regardless of political leanings, Jews and non-Jews who witnessed either of these massive gatherings or the other assemblies held worldwide had no choice but to be impressed by the kavanah, sincerity, calm behavior and menshlichkeit of those who attended. Israel is surrounded by enemies who seek its destruction. Torah study is the shield that protects Klal Yisrael from harm. Each and every person who studies Torah across the world serves as part of the infantry in the army of Hashem and safeguards us as a people. May Hashem listen to all of our tefillos and continue to protect us in these difficult times.
Please be reminded that we will not be in town for Purim and that we will be traveling to Israel next week. We kindly request that no mishloach monos be delivered to our house.
Good Shabbos and happy Purim