Dear Friends,

Another horrible terror attack, this time in Manchester, England. Unspeakable carnage that has taken so many young and innocent lives. As ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack, one of the first thoughts that came to mind was the commandment of the Torah: “And you shall wipe out the memory of Amalek.”

Amalek represents the first terrorist group in history. The Torah tells us that soon after the Israelites had departed from Egypt, that the tribe of Amalek attacked the Israelites. But what made this attack so vicious was that Amalek struck the Israelites from the rear, where the young, the elderly and the frail would be found.

So do we struggle to “wipe out” the contemporary Amalek that is ISIS and all of those who would commit acts of terror against the innocent and most vulnerable. We know that the terrorists are, for the most part, young men (“losers”) who have been indoctrinated by radical Islamic clerics who assure these terrorists that they will be granted a place in “Paradise.” They are called “soldiers for the caliphate,” as they become brainwashed to believe that their evil struggle is anything but that.

Unfortunately, they succeed not only in murdering innocent people, but in messing with our minds as we wonder about our own safety and that of our children and grandchildren. Yes, to “wipe out the memory of Amalek” is to annihilate the evil ideology that is taught even to young children.

Imagine: our president met with the president of the Palestinian Authority. We don’t know what was communicated between them, but I surely hope that the matter of terrorism was discussed in a candid way. How to speak of peace with this “government” when it pays out three-hundred-million dollars a year as “martyr payments”. That is the promise that terrorists will be glorified in their deaths, and their families will be significantly compensated for the selfless acts of their “heroic” sons.

Yes, we live in a perverted world where there are those who find righteousness in evil. We struggle to understand the mentality of a young person who would go to a concert largely attended by children, and blow himself up with the intent of killing as many as possible. That is the modern day “Amalek” who must be wiped out, difficult as is that challenge.

What wisdom is there in response to this evil? Only to go about living our lives, lest we give the terrorists the victory that they seek. And as all civilized nations are called upon to “wipe out” the memory of ISIS and other terror groups, we continue to hope for the day foretold by our prophets when “all shall sit under the fig trees and none shall make them afraid.”

Shabbat shalom,   

         Rabbi David Greenberg