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Monday, July 15, 2024

Parshas Zachor – Remember

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By: Chaya Sora Jungreis-Gertzulin

The days became weeks. The weeks became months. October, November, December, January, February, and now we are approaching the end of March.

Who would have believed that what began on Simchas Torah, October 7, would drag on as we approach Purim, with only HaShem knowing when it will all end. Hostages are still being held, the Tehillim list of injured soldiers keeps on growing, and the count of lives of lives lost in battle gets higher and higher.

What happened on October 7 was nothing less than a pogrom. Israel was brutally attacked. Over 1200 massacred, women violated in indescribable ways, children and babies murdered in cold blood, homes set on fire while their residents were still inside, and so much more. All with a vow from the terrorists that they will, return to finish the job. HaShem yishmor – may HaShem protect us.

The world around us is suffering from an amnesia of sorts. How quickly those who came to the defense of Am Yisroel and its homeland in the immediate aftermath of this brutality have turned against us. Some moderately, others unabashedly publicly. Sadly, counted among them are even so-called Jewish leaders and public officials.

On the Shabbos preceding Purim we read Parshas Zachor – we are commanded “Zachor – Remember”.

“Zachor, Remember what Amalek did to you when you were leaving Egypt. That he happened upon you on the way, and he cut off the weak ones at your rear, when you were faint and exhausted, and he did not fear HaShem… you shall not forget.” (Devarim 25: 17-19). A two-part commandment. To remember and not to forget.

Following the Exodus, Amalek staged an unprovoked attack upon the Jewish nation, targeting the women and children, the weak and weary, the elderly and infirm, those who were lagging behind. Amalek exhibited its brazenness by attacking the most vulnerable.

Generations later, Haman, a descendent of Amalek, continued on with the evil of his ancestors. He had his own Final Solution, issuing an edict “l’hashmid, la’harog, u’l’abed, to destroy, to kill and to exterminate” the Jewish nation living in the many provinces of Achashverosh’s empire. (Megillas Esther 3:13)

The pasuk states “asher osoh l’cho Amalek, what Amalek did to you. We can perhaps take homiletic liberty and read these words as “asher oseh l’cho Amalek, what Amalek is doing to you” Unfortunately, there will always be an Amalek and Hamans in the world. The names and faces change, but the wicked continue to exist. In modern times, we experienced Hitler’s Holocaust, and today, we are confronting yet another face of Amalek – Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, and yes – the hateful regime of Iran that funds so much of this. And, once again attacking the women, children, and elderly.

Come Purim, through the reading of the Megillah, we not only remember the evil conspiracy of Haman, but also the strength of Esther HaMalkah. The Midrash tells us that Esther made a request from the sages, “kisvuni l’doros, please, write my story for future generations.” Esther, who saved her people from Haman’s plan of genocide, knew that there would come a time when the world would not only forget, but deny the events that actually took place.

Esther pleaded, write my story, not for my personal honor, but to give hope and faith to Am Yisroel. It is a story “l’doros”, a legacy for generations. A story that transcends time and speaks to us with a lesson of emunah.

“Vatilokach Esther, And Esther was taken”. (Megillas Esther 2:8) Imagine the worry and fear in her heart. Esther pleads with HaShem, “Keli, Keli, lamah azavtani, HaShem, HaShem, why have You forsaken me. (Tehillim 22:2)  Esther asked that her story be recorded, because she knew there will be a time when others will be “taken”. A time when her story will give hope and faith to so many.

Alone in the palace, from where did Esther derive her strength? The Megillah tells us that she was “bas Avichayil”, a message to us, to find strength by placing one’s trust in Avi, my Father, HaShem – our Father in shomayim. A Father who is a “chayil”, a Guardian, a Protector. “Hinei lo yonum, v’lo yishan, Shomer Yisroel, Behold, He neither slumbers nor sleeps – the Guardian of Israel.” (Tehillim 121:4)

Esther was an orphan, having lost both her father and mother. She turned to Avi-Chayil, the Father of all orphans. A message for us. There may be times when we feel like orphans, abandoned, alone. But, we should know that Avinu She’bashomayim, our Father in Heaven is watching over us, and never abandons His children. (Esther Rabbah 6:7)

Today, our nation has many malkas, many queens. Many amazing women, who like their ancestor, Queen Esther, are fortified by their emunah and bitachon. One such woman is Einav Danino, mother of 24-year-old hostage, Ori Danino. She was recently speaking in the New York area, sharing her story, giving chizuk to all her listeners.

Ori was at the Nova music festival on October 7. When the Hamas terrorists infiltrated, he and his friends were able to make a quick getaway. But Ori’s neshama did not let him rest. He dropped off his friends and returned to help others escape. It was then that he was taken captive, not to be heard from since.

Einav said that she wakes up every morning with a new appreciation for life. A simple hello, how are you, a hug, a smile shared, all take on new meaning, as she longs to see, speak to, and hug her son. She thanks HaShem for each and every day, and is waiting for the day when she can thank Him for her son’s safe return. She truly believes that if HaShem deemed him to be taken captive, HaShem could surely bring him home.

Einav shared a beautiful story about her 10-year-old daughter. Einav’s friends took the young girl out to eat, hoping to lift her spirits. To top off the dinner, as a special treat, they ordered her a cake with candles. “But it’s not my birthday” she mused.

“Make a wish” they told her, “Wish for Ori to come home.” The little girl smiled and said, “I will make a wish. A wish for Moshiach to come. That way, all the hostages will return. The war will come to an end, and we will have shalom in our land.”

Beautiful words from a little girl. Wishing not just for herself, but for all of Am Yisroel. To bring peace, to bring Moshiach.

Purim is known as a day of tefilla. To ask HaShem for whatever we need. Zachor. Remember, and truly feel the pain of our people when davening.

With so much power in our tefilla, there’s no limit to what we can accomplish. Klal Yisroel is facing unprecedented challenges and turmoil. Our tefillos can alleviate the suffering and pain of so many. Ask as Einav’s daughter asked. Ask for shalom, ask for Moshiach. And, b’ezras HaShem, our prayers will be answered.

Shabbat Shalom and a Freilichen Purim!

Chaya Sora

Chaya Sora can be reached at [email protected]

This article was written L’zecher Nishmas/In Memory Of HaRav Meshulem ben HaRav Osher Anshil HaLevi, zt”l and Rebbetzin Esther bas HaRav Avraham HaLevi, zt”l

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