Shabbat Zachor

March 14, 2014

Every week, Jody Hirsh, the JCC's Judaic Education Director, provides a Judaic message that is featured at the top of the JCC's weekly email newsletter. Below is the Shabbat message for Friday, March 14, 2014.

Shabbat Zachor

This Shabbat, since it’s the Shabbat right before Purim (which starts Saturday night) is called “Shabbat Zachor,” Shabbat REMEMBER! The name comes from the extra reading added to the Torah reading on this Shabbat. The regular Torah reading is “Tzav,” Leviticus 6:1 – 8:36. However, on this Shabbat, we add a special Torah section, Deuteronomy 25:17-19, which includes:

Remember what Amalek did to you by the way, when you came out of Egypt.

The Amalakites, an ancient Canaanite tribe, were the great enemies of the Israelites as they wandered for 40 years in the desert. (For more about the Amalekites, click here to see my current “Moment of Torah.”) They are considered to be the descendants of all the great enemies of the Jews throughout all of history – including the evil Haman in the Purim Story. For this reason, we connect this Shabbat to the saga of anti-Semitism, to the Book of Esther, and to the holiday of Purim.

One of the great lies about the Jews that has plagued us for centuries is recorded in the Book. Haman, convincing King Ahasuerus that the Jews of Persia need to be destroyed, tells the king the following:

There is a certain people scattered and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of your kingdom; and their laws are different from all people; nor do they deep the king’s laws: therefore it is of no benefit to the king to tolerate them. If it pleases the king, let it be written that they may be destroyed.

That’s it. That’s the lie: we Jews are so powerful and so sneaky that we aspire to control the world. We control the banks. We control the newspapers. We control politics. We seek world dominion. This is the claim of “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,’ published 100 years ago. This was Hitler’s claim about the Jews. We’ve disproved it over and over again... yet the claim surfaces from time to time, even in our own times! But... Jews are, in fact, loyal citizens of the countries in which we live!

Interestingly, even Napoleon, in 1806, when he convened the “Great Sanhedrin of Paris,” he called 102 Jewish Notables from throughout France, to disprove the claim before he agreed to emancipate the Jews and make them full citizens of France. The notables succeeded, and it became a major chapter in modern Jewish history. And yet, in every generation, there are those who revert to the old disproven anti-Semitic ideas.

Click here to watch the Chassidic singer/songwriter, Rav Shmuel's satirical song about the Elders of Zion.

Parashat Zachor, Laud Machzor, 13th C. 

Shabbat Shalom