Here's a great tip:
Enter your email address and we'll send you our weekly magazine by email with fresh, exciting and thoughtful content that will enrich your inbox and your life, week after week. And it's free.
Oh, and don't forget to like our facebook page too!
Contact Us




To love one’s fellow as oneself, the Talmud tells us, is the entire Torah; the rest is commentary. “There is no service like the service of love,” declares the Zohar. “Peace” is not just a word, says another Talmudic adage—it is the very name of G‑d; indeed, “the Torah was given only to make peace in the world.” To again cite the Talmud, “Three traits distinguish the people of Israel: they are compassionate, bashful and charitable”; if someone lacks these traits, we are led to doubt their Jewishness. Even when we are compelled, as a society, to punish criminals or wage wars, we do so reluctantly, without passion, certainly without hate.

Love is the hallmark of Judaism. Some of us even claim that we taught that word to the world.

This Shabbat, however, we will stand in our synagogues and listen to a reading from the Torah that tells us to hate. Once a year, on the Shabbat before Purim, we open our Torah scrolls to the special reading of Zachor (Deuteronomy 25:17–19). “Remember what Amalek did to you . . . ,” we read. “Eradicate the memory of Amalek from under the heavens; do not forget!”

Amalek was not the only nation to attack us; in the course of our four-thousand-year history, there were many others who did the same, and worse. Yet Amalek is singled out as the very essence of evil. There was no rational reason for Amalek’s attack on us, no conceivable gain in doing so. Amalek simply hates goodness, and seeks to destroy it wherever it flourishes in G‑d’s world.

Yes, we are enjoined to love all G‑d’s creatures and creations, including the less lovable ones amongst them. But when pure hatred rears its head, it must be destroyed. Because if you love G‑d’s world, you don’t feed love to the forces that would destroy it.

In the wise words of our sages: “He who is compassionate to the cruel ends up being cruel to the compassionate.”

Yanki Tauber served as editor of
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with's copyright policy.
Join the Discussion
Sort By:
1000 characters remaining
Anonymous February 26, 2013

Oxymoron " Loving destructively " certainly sounds like an oxymoron. Once i heard a well educated and very well off and socially adept woman once proudly say " My children love me to death ". It has always stuck in my head. She is extremely self-centered but there is something so strange about that sentiment. I concluded that she was lying, or that she was leaving a large inheritance to them. It was not a slip of the tongue or Freudian slip. She meant it. I found it chilling. Reply

Hilda Gales Ferry February 26, 2013

Eradication I think one must constantly remember to eradicate in ones own consciousness anything that opposes G-d's Will. So that if you faced with certain things in life like with the choice to preserve your life by engaging in a physical fight or war your spirit will not be defiled by the powerful, anger, rage, and hatred etc that arises when engages in such actions. Nor will your spirit be sullied by falling into deep despair from taking another life even to preserve your own. Reply

Hilda Gales Ferry February 26, 2013

it is not so simple To me the meaning of hating Amalek is to oppose what is not the Will of G-d. If a person's mind and heart is attuned with the Will of G-d then the feeling will arise. It is not about dictating a feeling only being aware and understanding the conditions which give rise to the feeling. Thank you Reply

Evan Holland PA February 24, 2013

Very clever commandment from Zachor I think this is my favorite verse of the Torah to read on Purim. The nation of Amalek hated our tribe b/c they established hatred with no rational basis. But aren't the people who chose to wage war against us or destroy us also very wicked? There's no question that Hitler is also synonymous to the nature of.evil, maybe not pure hate but hate based on prejudices like our tribe being responsible for ruining the economy in the 1930's, blaming us as the source of the problem, a phenomenon seen on numerous occasions throughout history. Summarizing my point to "eradicate the memory of Amalek" would mean to erase our memory of what they did? I think the cleverness to that statement is it can be the interpreted as hating the notion of pure hatred of a person or group & destroying our memory of Amalek. Funny thing is they are mentioned in the Torah so we can't easily forget about them! According to the command I shouldn't think back on those who harmed me in the past, forget & move on Reply

John Smith February 23, 2013

According to the above quote it's not Amalek that needs to be eradicated but the memory of it Reply

Hilda Zeigler Gales Ferry February 23, 2013

War: hatred vs stupid; Loving destructively seems an oxymoron. Some sort of self delusion, a kind of habitual pattern of behavior, or repetitive mistakes due to ignorance and or lack of awareness. Reply

Anonymous February 22, 2013

Realism Your last line is a reality. Perseverance in the face of cruelty is a zero sum game. A winner a loser. When you experience cruelty from others, run as fast as you can the other way. If the cruelty is life threatening and running the other way won't work, Fight back, make war. Reply

Allan D. phoenix, az via February 21, 2013

"Love is the hallmark of Judaism" Actions speak louder than words. Reply

Daniel James Moreland Kent,WA February 21, 2013

animosity "Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth. And from there the LORD dispersed them over the face of all the earth." Reply

Peter Spiro Stevenson, WA February 19, 2013

war versus self-preservation Please keep in mind that Esther would not have objected had her people been sold into slavery, but only because they had been sold to be destroyed, slain, exterminated.

And what was Mordechai's initial provocation? That he refused to bow to Haman.

And what was Haman's response to this provocation? To exterminate the Jews.

So you see, Haman was mad as Hitler. And the Jews were allowed to organize, and assemble in order to defend themselves from being annihilated.

This is a far cry from "modern war" in which States battle for ideologies, resources, and influence.

What the Jews did was kill a few thousand to prevent their complete annihilation at the hands of a lunatics who would wipe out an entire people because of a perceived insult from one man and because the Jews maintained their own unique traditions.

"How can I bear to witness the extermination of my people?" asks Esther.

This was not "war." This was self preservation.

Peace. Reply

Russell K. Shenn Atlanta February 19, 2013

Oxymoron here? Remember to "blot out" and in the same breathe "do not forget" seems very much like an oxymoronic statement but it is the epitome of subtleness. Do you grasp the subtle opposition? If something is "unclean" or "disordered" you clean it up or bring it back into order do you not? So in the process of "cleaning" and "reordering" have you not removed the "blemish?" So what was the cause of the "blemish" in the first place and why must we continue to concern ourselves with its possibility.

The answer lies in what was discussed in the final speech given by Moshe. Can you discern it? It is the key to understanding the larger perspective on "why" much we don't understand is perpetuated in human behaviors. Reply

Gerald Stern Birmingham UK February 19, 2013

WAR It's been said, quite rightly, in my opinion, "There are no winners in war!" Every one involved loses something! Reply

Betzalel Bassman NY February 18, 2013

it's not so simple Maimonides in Sefer Hamitzvos, the Book of Commandments, says the mitzvah is to hate Amalek, but according to some commentaries and the simple reading of verse the command is to erase. It's a lengthy topic but the issue is connected to question as to whether the Torah can dictate that a person 'has to' have certain feeling. Reply

Steve Iowa February 18, 2013

hatred vs stupid I disagree, but please correct me (gently) if I am wrong.

"That which is hateful to you, do not do to another person," is extra-Talmudic, an answer to the challenge, "Teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot."

It is not the same as, "Love your fellow (neighbor) as yourself."

Many people love themselves (and their families) destructively; they know their excesses but continue anyway.

Expending time, energy, and resources to hurt someone else is stupid; it is not the same thing as hatred.

After all, carrying a grudge to hurt someone else is like drinking poison and hoping someone else will die. Reply

Ruth Krieger Boca Raton, Fl. February 18, 2013

TEACHING COMPASSION TO CHILDREN A Chassidic rebbe once said, (unfortunately I can't remember his name), if a baby doesn't cry when it hears another baby cry, give it a little pinch to ellicit its cry. One of the beautiful stories I remember from raising my children, my son fell and hurt himself. He was older and fought back tears. His younger brother began to cry. "Why are you crying," he asked his little brother."I'm the one who got hurt." The younger repliedf,"If you hurt it hurts me too." Reply

Eugina Giovanna Herrera New York City, New York February 18, 2013

Animosities If that is so, then Why all the animosities in this entire country?

Thank you Reply

Related Topics