Each day, when a Torah scribe sets out to write part of a Torah, he begins by writing the AMALEK on a small piece of parchment. He then takes his quill and makes lines though that name so that it can no longer be seen. He does this in keeping with the commandment of the Torah: “You shall blot out the name of Amalek.”
Amalek was a desert tribe that attacked the Israelites soon after they had come forth from Egypt. But unique to this attack was that Amalek attacked from the rear, where the children, the elderly and weak were found. And so we might say that Amalek has always stood for those who were especially vicious and who would attack those who were most vulnerable.
I think of our world today and our struggle against our contemporary “Amalek.” How can we even conceive of beheadings; how can we have empathy for those who would fire rockets at schools and hospitals? How do we explain to our children that there are people in our world who are so evil? And the greater question: How do we “blot them out?”
I learned the other day of a young girl from our congregation who was recently walking in Ecuador and saw some graffiti on a wall. It depicted a Jewish Star equaling a Nazi swastika. What do the people of Ecuador know of Israel or of Jews? (There are 500 Jews living in Ecuador today.) What do they know of Judaism and our ongoing contribution to our world?
It seems to me that we Jews have two responses to a world that is becoming more hostile toward not only Israel, but all of us. We need to somehow do a better job of making known, not only our contributions to the betterment of the human condition, but of the great value that we Jews have always placed upon every human life. And just as important, we need to strengthen ourselves from within, and realize that there is great strength in unity and in knowing and acting for what we believe to be humane and moral. Both are great challenges that summon each of us.
Rabbi David Greenberg