Often it takes our enemies to whip us into shape. “Rav Abba the son of Kahana said: Greater was the removal of the ring [of Achashverosh] than the 48 prophets and 7 prophetesses who prophesied for Israel, for all of them did not return them to good, yet the removal of the ring returned them to good” (Megillah 14a).
This week's d'var Torah is sponsored by Golda Brown in honour of the yahrzeit of her son, Moshe Chanoch Brown Krakowsky, z"l. May his memory be for a blessing.
Years ago, I heard Dennis Prager note that, while the Talmud spends six double-sided folio pages discussing the permissibility of eating an egg laid on Yom Tov, the Talmudic discussion of anti-Semitism consists of about three lines. Our great sages were concerned about how Jews are meant to live their lives, not what our enemies think of us. For the Talmud, the answer to the age-old question of anti-Semitism was as simple as it was profound. “What is [the reason for the name] Har Sinai? That hatred descended to the idolaters on it” (Shabbat 89a).
“Remember what Amalek did to you...do not forget.” Such memory is more than a biblical command, it is a historical reality. While the Torah may have been written 3,500 years ago, it is—almost by definition—a book of current events. Our Sages note that only 55 of the thousands of prophets who spoke the word of G-d had their words recorded for posterity, as only these 55 spoke words that are relevant for all time. While the names, dates and places may change, the fundamental issues—be they of a moral, communal or personal nature—never truly change.