10 February 2015

The 'Randomness' of Amalek

21 Shevat 5775

It is highly appropriate that we address this issue now in the run-up to Purim.
Obama: Murdered Jews Were Just Random Victims

US Pres. Obama: “It is entirely legitimate for the American people to be deeply concerned when you’ve got a bunch of violent, vicious zealots who behead people or randomly shoot a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris.”
This view that events happen "randomly" is deeply rooted in the philosophy of Amalek...
Remember what Amalek did to you as you were leaving Egypt. He happened upon you, and struck the weakest people trailing behind, when you were exhausted. And he did not fear God. (Deut. 25:17-18)
God said to Moses: Write this remembrance in the book... that I will surely erase the memory of Amalek from under the heavens. (Exodus 17:14)
Jacob and Esav
...The Midrash says that when Esav was getting old, he called in his grandson Amalek and said: "I tried to kill Jacob but was unable. Now I am entrusting you and your descendents with the important mission of annihilating Jacob's descendents ― the Jewish people. Carry out this deed for me. Be relentless and do not show mercy."
True to his mission, Amalek has historically tried to destroy the Jews. For example, in Exodus 17:8, Amalek attacked the Jews out of pure hatred ― Amalek lived in a distant land and was under no imminent threat.
So what does Amalek have to do with Purim? The Scroll of Esther (3:1) identifies Haman as the descendent of Agag, King of Amalek. Haman's desire to wipe out the Jewish people was an expression of his long-standing national tradition.
Random vs. Design
This conflict is much deeper than just a "sibling rivalry." Philosophically, Amalek and the Jewish people stand at two opposite ends of the spectrum.
The Talmud explains: What is the meaning of the phrase "[Amalek] happened ("karcha") upon you..." (Deut. 25:18)? The Hebrew word "karcha" literally means coincidence or 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 the verse continues: "And [Amalek] did not fear God."
...While Jacob believes that God runs the world and there is an absolute standard of morality, Esav believes that life is random ― and morality is therefore subjective. Esav’s hatred for the message of morality actually forms the basis of all anti-Semitism. Just as the Jews stand for the principle of caring for the vulnerable and weak, Amalek is the opposite ― "attacking the weakest people trailing behind" (Deut. 25:18).... (Source)
It might be worthwhile here to review what Moishele and Menachem said at the New Year regarding Purim 5775. Moishele said...
Then we will come to Purim and we will beg Hashem to save us from Haman and we will have a Haman here, a Haman that we will have to be saved from and we will have to fight, fight our fears, beg Hashem to save us from this awful terrible horrific person and his armies and his police. We will have to beg very hard. Hashem will save us.
Menachem said...
...the whole year will be chock-full of hard things, until we, the real-Jews, will feel that we have no more strength, no strength. But, with G-d's help, we and our families will get through it. But, we will arrive to Purim, and on Purim, this is the time of Haman's fall. Then, the wicked one who was placed over us, he will also go away. He will go away - and not bother us any more.
Maybe this news report is indicating to us that Obama is our present-day Haman. Hmmm....