Summary of The Maftir:
This week, in addition to the regular Parsha, we read Parshas Zachor. Parshas
Zachor is the 2nd of the four special Shabbosim preceding Pesach when
additional portions are read from the Torah. The first special Shabbos was Parshas Shekalim.
This week we read Zachor, and in a few weeks we will
read Parah and Chodesh. There are set rules which determine when each of
these additional Parshios is to be read. Parshas Zachor is always read on the Shabbos before
On Parshas Zachor, we read the additional Parsha found in Devarim, 25:17.
As a nation, we were commanded to destroy the nation of
Amalek. This nation came into existence at the same time as we did. Esav's son
Elifaz had a son Amalek. Esav and Elifaz's legacy to Amalek was an undying
hatred against the children of Yakov.
At the time of the exodus from Egypt, Amalek traveled hundreds of miles to
ambush the newly freed nation in the hope of destroying them. We, as a nation,
did not pose any threat to their sovereignty. They lived to the east of Canaan
and were not among the Seven Nations occupying Eretz Yisroel. Nevertheless,
their irrational hatred against Hashem and us compelled them to attack a
harmless and seemingly defenseless nation. In the aftermath of their attack we
were commanded to always remember the evil that is Amalek. It is the reading
of this Parsha that is the fulfillment of this Biblical commandment. This
mitzvah, according to most authorities, is not restricted by time and must be
fulfilled by men and woman.
The Rabbi's selected the Shabbos before Purim for the fulfillment of this
Mitzvah because Haman was a direct descendent of Amalek, and Mordecai was a
direct descendent of King Saul. The entire story of Purim is directly linked
to this Mitzvah and the missed opportunity of King Saul that we read about in
Summary of The Haftorah:
Shmuel I - 15:2
This week's Haftorah takes place 2,873 years ago. In the year 2883 - 878
b.c.e. King Shaul was sent by G-d to destroy the nation of Amalek. Agag was
their king, and it was a singular moment in history when every member of
Amalek was in one place at the same time. Shaul, as per Shmuel Hanavi's
instructions, was successful in destroying Amalek. However, as the Haftorah
clearly states, Shaul had mercy and allowed the king, Agag, to remain alive,
as well as the captured cattle. The commentaries state that in the interim,
Agag was able to impregnate a maidservant, from which the nation of Amalek
would survive. Hashem told Shmuel that Shaul's neglect of His command to
totally destroy Amalek must result in Shaul loosing the right to be king.
Despite Shmuel's prayers for mercy, Hashem didn't relent, and Shmuel went to
tell Shaul of G-d's punishment.
The connection to Purim is well documented. Haman is called, "the Agagi".
He was a direct descendent of Agag. In ascertaining Hashem's mercy and
justice, we are forced to acknowledge our limited understanding. The notion of
killing men woman and children is thankfully foreign and abhorrent to us.
Nevertheless, Shaul was commanded to eradicate the entire nation.
The Haftorah identifies Shaul's sin in not fulfilling G-d's commandment as
misplaced mercy. Had he known that, 521 years later, his merciful act would
result in the potential extermination of the entire Jewish people, Shaul would
not have had mercy on Agag and the cattle. It is the responsibility of a king
to think beyond the immediate and do what has to be done to guarantee the
future of his nation. Being that no single human can ever guarantee the
future, he has no choice but to listen to Hashem's commandments and do as he
is told. That insures the future.
The message of Purim is the story of our Haftorah. Hashem works His
miracles through the normal passage of time. Actions done today set in motion
ripples in time that radiate far into the future.
May today's celebration of Purim set in motion the redemption of