Tuesday, September 17, 2019

A Different Look at "Zachor"

I had been debating on whether or not to post this on "A  Jewish Grandmother." That's not because Torah and Parshat Shavua belong more on my other blog. It's just that I wanted my Israeli Elections 2019 posts to stay on top. But my messages/commentaries about "Zachor" really belong here.
דברים כה Dvarim 25
זָכ֕וֹר אֵ֛ת אֲשֶׁר־עָשָׂ֥ה לְךָ֖ עֲמָלֵ֑ק בַּדֶּ֖רֶךְ בְּצֵאתְכֶ֥ם מִמִּצְרָֽיִם׃
Remember what Amalek did to you on your journey, after you left Egypt—
אֲשֶׁ֨ר קָֽרְךָ֜ בַּדֶּ֗רֶךְ וַיְזַנֵּ֤ב בְּךָ֙ כָּל־הַנֶּחֱשָׁלִ֣ים אַֽחַרֶ֔יךָ וְאַתָּ֖ה עָיֵ֣ף וְיָגֵ֑עַ וְלֹ֥א יָרֵ֖א אֱלֹהִֽים׃
how, undeterred by fear of God, he surprised you on the march, when you were famished and weary, and cut down all the stragglers in your rear.
וְהָיָ֡ה בְּהָנִ֣יחַ יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֣יךָ ׀ לְ֠ךָ מִכָּל־אֹ֨יְבֶ֜יךָ מִסָּבִ֗יב בָּאָ֙רֶץ֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר יְהוָֽה־אֱ֠לֹהֶיךָ נֹתֵ֨ן לְךָ֤ נַחֲלָה֙ לְרִשְׁתָּ֔הּ תִּמְחֶה֙ אֶת־זֵ֣כֶר עֲמָלֵ֔ק מִתַּ֖חַת הַשָּׁמָ֑יִם לֹ֖א תִּשְׁכָּֽח׃ (פ)
Therefore, when the LORD your God grants you safety from all your enemies around you, in the land that the LORD your God is giving you as a hereditary portion, you shall blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven. Do not forget!
Zachor is read to us twice a year in the synagogue. The first time is the Shabbat before Purim as preparation for  that holiday. Zachor זָכ֕וֹר means "Remember!" Haman, the totally evil anti-Jewish person in the Purim Megillah narrative is descended from Amalek, and he schemes a scheme to kill/destroy all of the Jewish People after the destruction of the First Holy Temple, when our leadership was exiled by the Persians.

A half a year later, we read Zachor זָכ֕וֹר again, since it's part of the Torah Portion Parshat Shavua that comes up a few weeks before Rosh Hashanah, just before we complete the annual Torah Reading cycle. In the Jewish Year of 5779, this year, it was this past Shabbat.

So last week, as I was preparing myself, doing homework, before attending our Senior Citizens' Women's Parshat Shavua Class, something new hit me about what's written. The standard conventional commentary about Amalek is that they make a point of attacking the weak, those who can't defend themselves. When I reread the verses for the umpteenth time, a few words suddenly stood out:
"וַיְזַנֵּ֤ב בְּךָ֙ כָּל־הַנֶּחֱשָׁלִ֣ים אַֽחַרֶ֔יךָ"
"all the stragglers in your rear"
The general principle when taking a group of people on a hike, or whatever, is to make sure the weaker participants are surrounded by the strong ones for protection and so that they won't stray, stop or get lost. In this Biblical narrative, the stronger ones were tired, so the weaker ones were unprotected, perfect fodder for Amalek, who wouldn't dare attacking anyone capable of fighting back.

Not to "blame the victims," this important Torah Lesson is to remind us, make it clear that it's a Mitzvah, Torah Commandment to protect the weaker in society. Leaving them exposed, whether on the trail or geographically, by government policy is forbidden by Torah Law.

In the early days of the State of Israel, the government used new immigrants, almost exclusively those from "Arab lands," North Africa to settle the more isolated and vulnerable locations of the new country. Newly constructed "Development Towns" weren't populated by the elite veteran European Israelis. New immigrants from Morocco, Tunisia, Iraq etc were literally dumped straight off the boat or plane, and given tents to share, until small substandard apartments could be built for them. If they requested to live in Holy Jerusalem, they were told that their new home was a nearby neighborhood of the long dreamt for city, even when hours away. And the lucky ones who did get housing in Jerusalem, were placed on the border and had to endure the dangers of Jordanian snipers. Security was also horrendous in the Development Towns and small isolated agricultural settlements where some were dumped. Besides the short-term government appointed administrators, only desperate newcomers lived in those new places.

Over half a century later, the residual resentment is still strong in many Eidot Mizrach families.

Gd willing the scars of past policies will fully heal, and today's elections will result in a wise and caring government, which is the only protection from modern Amalek.

1 comment:

Mr. Cohen said...

Since the #1 goal of the so-called
“Palestinians” is to kill as many Jews
as possible, and completely destroy
the only Jewish state, which would
result in another Holocaust for the
Jewish people, how much difference
is there between the Amalekites
and the Palestinians? Not much.


Matti Friedman
[former Associated Press reporter] wrote:

“Hamas’s strategy is to provoke
a response from Israel by attacking
from behind the cover of Palestinian
civilians, thus drawing Israeli strikes
that kill those civilians, and then
to have the casualties filmed by
one of the world’s largest press
contingents, with the understanding
that the resulting outrage abroad
will blunt Israel’s response.

This is a ruthless strategy,
and an effective one.

It is predicated on the cooperation
of journalists. One of the reasons
it works is because of the reflex
I mentioned. If you report that
Hamas has a strategy based on
co-opting the media, this raises
several difficult questions, like:

What exactly is the relationship
between the media and Hamas?

And has this relationship
corrupted the media?”

SOURCE 1: What the
Media Gets Wrong about Israel

by Matti Friedman, 2014/11/30

Unfreedom of the Press
(chapter 6, pages 159-160)
by Mark R. Levin, published by
Threshold Editions, year 2019, NYC,
ISBN 9781476773094 * ISBN 1476773092


On June 1, 2006,
former New York City mayor Ed Koch
wrote an opinion piece in the
[New York] Times titled
The New York Times’ Anti-Israel Bias,”
asserting that “the British Broadcasting
Corporation [BBC] and the New York Times
consistently carry news stories and
editorials that are slanted against
Israel and sympathetic to the
Palestinian Authority and Hamas.”

SOURCE: Unfreedom of the Press
(chapter 6, page 157) by Mark R. Levin,
published by Threshold Editions, year 2019, NYC,
ISBN 9781476773094 * ISBN 1476773092


Mark R. Levin
(a lawyer and best-selling author) said:

“Unlike the early patriot press,
today’s newsrooms and journalists
are mostly hostile to America’s
founding principles, traditions,
and institutions.

They do not promote free speech
and press freedom, despite their
self-serving and self-righteous claims.

Indeed, they serve as societal
filters attempting to enforce
uniformity of thought and social
and political activism centered
on the Progressive ideology and agenda.

Issues, events, groups, and individuals
that do not fit the narrative are
dismissed or diminished; those that
fit the narrative are elevated and celebrated.”

Unfreedom of the Press
(introduction chapter, page 2)
by Mark R. Levin, published by
Threshold Editions, year 2019, NYC,
ISBN 9781476773094 * ISBN 1476773092