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Parshat Zachor(Deuteronomy 25:17-19)

Generating Doubt

Parshat Tetzaveh usually precedes Purim, when we read the "maftir" portion describing how Amalek attacked the Jewish people as they left Egypt - even though Amalek lived in a distant land and was under no imminent threat.

So why did Amalek attack?

The Torah says that Amalek attacked the Jews "karcha" - which literally means by way of happenstance. Amalek's entire philosophy is that there is no design or providence in the world. Everything is haphazard, dictated by chance, luck and fate. That's why Haman, a direct descendent of Amalek, decided to kill the Jews based on a lottery, from which the name "Purim" is derived.

Philosophically, Amalek and the Jewish people stand at opposite ends of the spectrum. Judaism believes that the world has purpose and meaning, and that God is intimately involved in our lives. Indeed, that is the very lesson of Purim: Even when things seems bleak, God is there, guiding events. With Haman's decree, it seemed that the Jews were doomed. But then there was a dramatic turnabout.

In our own lives, to the extent we may doubt God's involvement, is the extent that Amalek's philosophy of randomness is part of us.

The Kabbalists point out the numerical value of Amalek -- 240 -- is the same as safek, meaning "doubt." The energy of Amalek is to create doubts about what is true and real in this world, and of God's role in directing events in the best possible way.

This concept is so important that one of 613 mitzvot is to remember what Amalek did. And that's what we do, every year, on the Shabbat before Purim. So let's take this message to heart, and do our part - to fight Amalek's idea of a random world.

Published: March 4, 2006

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Visitor Comments: 3

(3) Anonymous, March 13, 2014 3:29 PM

Great!

This is really great! Thank you so much for posting it!

(2) Joseph Hébert, March 2, 2012 4:38 PM

Doubt is the foundation of deceit

Obfuscation and confusion are the tools with which deception is wrought, and it is on a foundation of doubt that it is built. For this reason, the Deceiver doesn't need us to believe a lie; he only needs us to doubt the Truth.

(1) Anonymous, March 2, 2009 11:41 AM

gratefull

Thanks a lot, for helping me on how to observe purim...The idea behind the observance of this mitzvah will surely improve the practical part of my jewish observance

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