Remembering Purim on Shabbat: “Parshat Zachor”

Question

Hi Rabbi, I heard that the Shabbat preceding Purim has a special name. Would you please tell me more about it? Thanks!

, , 2 months

Answers

  1. Yes, the Shabbat before Purim (this year, 2020, on the 20th of February) is called “Shabbat Zachor,” which literally means “Shabbat of remembering.”

    What are we remembering? We are remembering the wicked attack by the people of Amalek on the Jewish nation, an attack that immediately followed the Exodus from Egypt.

    The Torah states that it is a mitzvah to verbally recall the attack on us by Amalek. “Parshat Zachor” (Deut. 25:17-19) is read in the Synagogue from a Torah scroll on the Shabbat before Purim, because on Purim we celebrate our deliverance from Amalek’s most notorious descendent — Haman.

    What is the special connection of this Torah mitzvah to Shabbat?

    The Torah states: “Remember what Amalek did to you, on the way when you were leaving Egypt; that he happened upon you on the way….” (Deut. 25:17-19)

    The phrase “that he happened upon you” is the translation for “asher KARcha baderech.” The key to what he did is embedded in the word “KAR,” which has three possible meanings: 1) Happen by chance; 2) Impure; 3) Cold.

    All of these meanings are “recalled and eradicated” by the eternal message of Shabbat.

    1. Amalek tried to show that the world “happened by chance”. Shabbat is our testimony that God created the world and that nothing is by chance.

    2. Amalek represents “spiritual impurity”. Shabbat is a time of purity for the Jewish soul. On Shabbat we pray, “Purify our hearts to serve You in truth.”

    3. The natural desire of the Jewish People is to relate to God with a passion. Amalek wanted to “cool us off.” During the week, we can become caught up in a daily routine of cool indifference. Shabbat enables and represents the warmth of the Jewish soul’s desire to unite with the Creator.

    As we remember Amalek, Haman, and other wicked individuals and nations throughout history who have attempted genocide on the Jewish People and failed, we remember God’s promise that we are an eternal nation who — no matter how challenging the world sometimes appears — will exist forever to fulfill our eternal destiny.

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team