On the Shabbat preceding Purim, which is this coming Shabbat, after the opening of the Ark immediately following Shacharit prayers, two Sifrei Torah are removed; in the first one, we read the weekly Parasha and in the second one we read the portion of “Zachor Et Asher Asa Lecha Amalek” (“Remember what Amalek has done to you”). This Torah portion is referred to as“Parashat Zachor”. (Parashat Zachor can be found at the end of Parashat Ki Tetzeh in the Book of Devarim.)

According to most Poskim, the reading of Parashat Zachor is a Torah obligation. Since the Halacha is well-known that “Mitzvot require intention” (Shulchan Aruch, Chapter 60, Section 4), one must take care while listening to Parashat Zachor to have in mind to fulfill the Torah obligation of remembering the actions of Amalek and obligation to annihilate them. Similarly, the individual reading from the Torah must have in mind that the entire congregation will be fulfilling their obligation by listening to his reading. (Read more)

There are those who have separated Hashem into a G-d of good, love, and life (represented by xianity/Esav) and a G-d of evil, hate and death (Islam/Yishmael). They determine for themselves what is good and what is evil. They say love and mercy, even to your enemy, is “good” and hate and war are “evil”.

A real Jew knows that Hashem is one. He is the G-d of everything and everything has a “good” purpose and an “evil” purpose. The Torah tells us there is a time for hate and war just as there is a time for love and mercy. We, as Jews, are the servants of Hashem and He tells us, through the Torah, what is “good” and what is “evil”. We don’t determine this for ourselves. We do as he commands not as we like or as we feel. Parshat Amalek reminds us of this.

We are commanded not only to hate Amalek but to utterly destroy him. We read in the maftir Devarim 25:17;

Remember what Amalek did to you, on the way when you were leaving Egypt, that he happened upon you on the way, and he struck those of you who were hindmost, all the weaklings at your rear, when you were faint and exhausted, and he did not fear G-d.

What made Amalek worse than all the other enemies of our people?

And he did not fear G-d—This phrase explains why Amalek is more despised than any of the many other nations that waged war against Israel. Had Amalek made a brave frontal attack like the others, defying both G-d and their intended human victims, the crime would not have been so heinous. But Amalek did fear people—that is why it chose to ambush the Jews who straggled at the rear of the nation, the people who were faint and exhausted, and least able to defend themselves. By doing so, Amalek showed special contempt for G-d (R. Yitzchak Zev Soloveitchik) (Artscroll Chumash)

The Haftarah begins (I Samuel 15:1-3);

1. And Samuel said to Saul, "The Lord sent me to anoint you to be king over His people, over Israel; and now hearken to the voice of the words of the Lord.
2. So said the Lord of Hosts, 'I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid (wait) for him on the way, when he came up out of Egypt.
3. Now, go, and you shall smite Amalek, and you shall utterly destroy all that is his, and you shall not have pity on him: and you shall slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.'

 9. And Saul and the people had pity on Agag, and on the best of the sheep and the cattle, and the fatlings, and on the fattened sheep, and on all that was good; and they did not want to destroy them; but everything which was vile and feeble, that they utterly destroyed

What happened here? Shaul and the people had pity “on all that was good” but “everything which was vile and feeble” they destroyed. Shaul and the people determined what was “good” and what was “evil” rather than trusting Hashem and obeying Hashem. They determined who deserved mercy and who should be destroyed rather than trusting and obeying Hashem.

22. And Samuel said, "Has the Lord (as much) desire in burnt offerings and peace-offerings, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than a peace-offering; to hearken (is better) than the fat of rams.

Hashem demands obedience. Obedience to the Torah is the trait of fear of Hashem.

23. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and stubbornness is as idolatry and teraphim. Since you rejected the word of the Lord, He has rejected you from being a king."

Redak explains the parallel between rebellion and divination, thus. Just as one who divines, commits a grave sin because he removes his trust from the Almighty and seeks other sources to determine his future, so, one who rebels against the L-rd’s command, removes his belief in the L-rd’s power to reward and punish. Similarly, just as an idolator denies the L-rd’s rule over the Universe, so, one who is stubborn and disobedient also denies G-d’s authority.

24. And Saul said to Samuel, "I have sinned, for I transgressed the Lord's command, and your words, for I feared the people, and I hearkened to their voice. 

Shaul didn’t fear Hashem but did fear the people, so he couldn’t destroy Amalek, who didn’t fear Hashem but feared the people. This led to the birth of Haman and the decree of destruction of our people at Purim. According to the commentary;

G-d informed Israel that there would be an eternal state of war between Him and Amalek, because Amalek’s battle was primarily against the cause of holiness, not against the nation that God chose to be its standard bearer. And G-d commanded Israel to remember what that renegade nation did, and to destroy the Amalekites so completely that they would not even be remembered.

If Amalek is at war with Hashem, why must we battle against them? Why doesn’t Hashem wipe them out like he did the Egyptians in the sea? If Amalek represents fear of man over fear of Hashem, then only fear of Hashem over man can defeat it and only we, Am Yisrael, are capable of complete trust and fear of Hashem over fear of man.

So, in a sense, the command to remember Amalek is to remember to fear Hashem and obey Hashem. Only fear of Hashem through obeying his commandments will save us from our enemies. When we fear the nations and not Hashem, Amalek comes against us.

Eventually there will come a final battle between Hashem (and those who fear and obey him), and Amalek (and those who fear and trust in man). Which side will you be on?

The gematriah of Amalek seems to reinforce these ideas as we see in the book, What's In A Name by Rabbi Matityahu Glazerson;

The gematriah of עמלק (70+40+30+100), plus the four letters of the word, is 244, which is equal to that of Hitler, הטלר (5+9+30+200), may his name be blotted out.

The number 244 is the value, too, of two other important concepts: מרד , rebelliousness, whose source is to be found in Amalek’s evil, and רדם, apathy. Amalek’s strategy is to cause apathy within Israel regarding Torah observance, which he will then flaunt to justify their destruction. It was precisely this way in which behaved a famous descendant of Amalek, Haman. He came before King Ahasuerus and said, “There exists a nation, divided and spread out among your peoples…” (Esther 3:8); the first word, ישנו , can also be understood as a derivation of the root meaning “old”, as in, “a people who have allowed mitzvah-observance to become old and outdated” (Megilla 13b). He thereby hoped to lower Israel’s stock in G-d’s eyes, allowing himself free rein for his destructive scheming.

The Torah recounts Amalek’s devious attack on Israel during the time of the Exodus from Egypt: “And Amalek came, and warred with Israel in Refidim” (Ex. 17,8). The Mechilta to this verse explains that the name רפידים implies רפיון ידים , debility; Amalek sought to bring about weakness in Israel’s dedication to learning Torah, thereby facilitating a victory over them.

The value of the word רפידים is 344 (200+80+10 +4+10+40), the same as the word sh’mad, שמד (300+40+4), meaning spiritual destruction. A weakening of our resolve to grow spiritually, as caused by the vicious evil of Amalek, leads to our disintegration on all planes. This, unfortunately, was distinctly noticeable during the period prior to the Holocaust, when the growing strength on the Reform and Haskalah movements weakened Torah resolve and commitment among European Jewry.

The circle is completed when we note the closeness of the word שמד to the words מרד and רדם; the letter ש is replaced by its preceding letter in the alphabet, ר. Amalek’s appeal to the evil inclination brings about apathy and coldness regarding Torah and mitzvoth, which leads to his physical conquest of the Land and the People.

The Rebbi of Lublin states this clearly in his work Zichron Zot, on Parashat Zachor, “…the evil inclination which brings about laziness and coldness is called Amalek: עם, as in עוממות גחלים, dying out coals, which strives to לק, lick our blood as a dog.



Foreseeing the tremendous suffering the Jewish people would undergo during the era immediately preceding Moshiach’s arrival, the sages cried out, “Let [Moshiach] come, but let me not see him” (Sanhedrin 98b).  In other words please spare me from witnessing the terrible travails of the Jewish people at that time.

The pains accompanying the arrival of Moshiach are compared to labor pains.  The Vilna Gaon describes the period as follows:

The redemption is termed “morning,” as it is written, “Morning has come, as well as night” (Yeshaya 21:12). Likewise, it is termed “birth,” as it is written, “For Zion has had contractions and has even given birth” (Yeshaya 66:8)
The darkest time of night is that which precedes the dawn, and the strongest labor pains are those immediately preceding the moment of birth.  So it will be before the redemption.  The exile then will be the most intense of all the exiles (Even Sheleima, ch.11).

In a comment there, the Gaon writes:

Just as in Egypt the oppression increased prior to the redemption, as it says, “Let the work be heavier upon the men” (Shemos 5:9), so will it be in the period of the birth pangs of Moshiach.  The seventy words in Psalm 20 parallel the seventy years of the birth pangs of Moshiach from which [the Jewish people] will be redeemed.

The Chofetz Chaim elaborates on this point:

Before the coming of Moshiach, Hashem will act in a hurried manner so wondrous that even all who are wise of heart will be unable to fathom it.  The troubles and persecutions [of the Jewish people] will follow each other so closely that there will be no space between them.  Just as for an expectant woman who is about to give birth, the closer she comes to the moment of birth, the more intense her contractions and her pain, and this is her most reliable indication that the birth is nearing, so too, the wheels of the era will turn faster at the time of the birth pangs of Moshiach.

The Chofetz Chaim submits an additional explanation for the intensification of Israel’s troubles at the End of Days.  Toward the end of the sixth millennium, the heavenly tribunal will wish to settle all accounts opened since the world’s creation.  G-d will want to prepare His world for its new state, the state of redemption.

This is an indication that the Holy One, blessed is He, wishes to rectify all the old world’s flaws, and to speed up the world’s transformation to birth  of a new world, to the days of Moshiach, in which only those elements of sanctity designated for His name will exist.

Rabbi Elchanan Wasserman also highlights this point:

Since the World will be in a perfected, flawless state during the time of Moshiach, it is necessary for all old accounts to be settled in the period that precedes it.  For piles of accounts have accumulated in heaven from the time of Creation to the present [that is , sins that man has not yet rectified], and they must be put in order before Moshiach comes.  It is therefore the duty of every individual to pay what he still owes to heaven (Ikvesa diMeshicha 18)

The Chessed LeAvraham writes that the intensification of Israel’s oppression constitutes a wonderful process of purification in preparation for the redemption:

Israel’s troubles will become as grave as can be, and they will suffer intense pain.  They will say, of the mountains, “They have covered us,” and of the hills, “They have fallen upon us,” because of the tremendous troubles that will surround them on all sides.  The reason for this is that the Divine presence will judge its household, and G-d will bring them back to the established covenant so as to purify them for the redemption and for the goodness promised to us by His prophets.

That goodness is something the intellect cannot comprehend.  The redemption from Egypt and its accompanying miracles will pale in comparison with the miracles and wonders that will happen to us during the redemption of Israel at the End of Days.  As it says, “They will no longer say, ‘By the life of Hashem Who brought the Children of Israel up from the land of Egypt,’ but instead, ‘By the life of Hashem Who brought up and brought back the descendants of the House of Israel from the northern land and from all the lands to which He dispersed them…’” (Yirmiyahu 23:7-8)

There will then be miracles and revelation of the divine presence to Israel in an amazingly wondrous fashion.  All who merit those times will say, “Behold, this is our G-d in Whom we placed our hopes” (Yeshaya 25;9), literally pointing a finger at the revelation of the Divine presence.  Who will be worthy of this? (Chessed LeAvraham 1:17).

The Chessed Le Avraham goes on to say:

All those who are stubborn and do not repent will perish.  But anyone who bears the yoke of repentance and accepts the troubles without complaint, putting his shoulder to the task, will be purified and become worthy.  The Holy One, blessed is He, is an honest and perfectly just Judge, and there is no injustice.  Therefore, He will refine the person time and time again until he is pure and clean silver. This process will be carried out by the strictest standards of judgment.  In those days, one nation will pulverize another.  Israel will be among them in great suffering.  Each nation will want to shear this sheep [the Jewish people] and eat its meat.  But the Holy One, blessed is He, will have mercy
on G-d’s people through the merit of the there holy Patriarchs, and they will become purified and cleansed as a result of these troubles and this judgment.
(The Ishmaelite Exile, Rabbi Yechiel Weitzman)