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Beit Midrash Shabbat and Holidays Megilat Esther

Remembering Amalek, Destroying Amalek

The Chofetz Chaim said, "Because we are approaching the time of the Messiah, and we will soon have to destroy the seed of Amalek, we are going to need a lot of strength. You must therefore stay fit so that you have the strength to carry out this task."
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"There is a positive commandment to recall what Amalek did to us, as it is written, 'Remember what Amalek did to you' " (Deuteronomy 25:17).

"There is a positive commandment to destroy the offspring of Amalek, as it is written, 'Wipe out the memory of Amalek' " (ibid. 19).

"Purim Feast 1946!"
It was a time of shock and confusion. The world was beginning to grasp the extent of killing and crime perpetrated by the German oppressor (may his name be blotted out). The Allied Forces had begun an extensive hunt to capture the leading murderers and bring them to justice. After some months of pursuit, they succeeded in capturing a good number of them and concentrating them in the city of Nuremberg, Germany. Here, an international military court carried out the famous "Nuremberg Trials."

In all, twenty-two murderers were brought before the court. Some of these were released due to lack of evidence, others were sentenced to terms of imprisonment, and eleven were sentenced to death.

On the night after the trial, the sound of sawing could be heard outside the prisoners' cell. One of the prisoners, realizing that gallows were being prepared for him, took out some poisonous tablets he had been hiding and committed suicide. Ten remained.

They were taken from their cells early in the morning, dressed in special clothing, and informed that they would shortly be executed. They were given a final meal and then taken to the gallows.

Among the convicts was the one responsible for Nazi propaganda, Julius Streicher (may his name be blotted out). When his turn came he shouted out, "Heil Hitler! God is great! Purim Feast 1946!" and then he died. Apparently, the miscreant understood that Haman's ten sons were being put to death once again. Maybe he was hinting at Queen Ester's request to hang the ten sons of Haman after their deaths...

In the Book of Ester, in the episode of the hanging of Haman's ten sons, there are three letters that are written in a smaller form than all of the others: In the word "Parshandata," the letter tav; in the word "Parmashta," the letter shin; and in the word "Vayzata," the letter zayin. Together, these three letters have the numerical value of (5)707, the year (according to the Hebrew calendar) in which these wicked people were executed!

Once, an important yeshiva dean visited the Chofetz Chaim (Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan of Radin) and spoke to him about how busy he was delivering classes in his yeshiva. He told the Chofetz Chaim that he was so busy that he hardly had time to eat properly.

The Chofetz Chaim replied, "Because we are approaching the time of the Messiah, and we will soon have to destroy the seed of Amalek, we are going to need a lot of strength. Therefore, I would like you to eat a little meat each day and to stay fit, so that you have the strength to carry out this task."

The Commandment to Remember
The Sefer HaChinnukh writes, "Among the roots of this commandment is that we should be conscious of the fact that whoever oppresses Israel is despised by the Almighty Blessed Be He, and his downfall is in proportion to his wickedness and his harm, as you find regarding Amalek. Because he did great evil to Israel, beginning to harm them, the Blessed One Be He commanded us to destroy their memory from the face of the earth and to plow it over until nothing remains."

" 'Remember what Amalek did to you.' Does this mean to remember verbally or to remember mentally? When [the Torah] says 'Do not forget,' it refers to forgetting mentally. What, then do we learn from 'Remember'? To repeat this verbally."

The Torah obligates us to remember what Amalek did to us. The Sages rule that one must do this at least once a year, and the practice is to fulfill this obligation on the Sabbath before Purim.

Therefore, some authorities are of the opinion that one who is unable to hear the "zakhor" Torah reading on this Sabbath can discharge his obligation on the Sabbath when the "Ki Tetze" portion (which contains the "zakhor" passage) is read.

The "zakhor" passage must be read or heard from a kosher Torah scroll in the presence of a minyan (prayer quorum of ten men). Later authorities rule that if a person must choose between hearing the "zakhor" reading and hearing the Scroll of Ester, it is preferable to hear "zakhor" because it is a Torah obligation.

The Torah reader must be especially meticulous when reading "zakhor." Because its obligation stems from the Torah, the Torah reader must make sure that all present fulfill their obligation. It likewise follows that both he and the congregation must have specific intention to fulfill this commandment.

Later authorities disagree as to whether the word "zekher" in the "zakhor" passage must be read with a "tzereh" vowel or a "segol" vowel under the letter "zayin." Therefore, the proper path to take is to read it first with a "segol" and then repeat the verse, reading it the second time with a "tzereh."
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