This week, we read the Torah passage that commands us to remember Amalek, the first nation to attack the Jewish people after their miraculous redemption from Egypt. Interestingly, the verb the Torah selects to describe Amalek's attack, Karcha, is rooted in the word Kar, which means cold. In addition, the Heberew word Amalek shares the same numerical value as the Heberw word Safek, or doubt.

Thus, in Jewish mysticism, Amalek is seen as more than just a historical nation that audaciously attacked the Jewish people in the height of their glory. Amalek is also that force within the Jewish psyche that attempts to cast "doubt" on our belief in Divine Providence and tries to "freeze" our hearts, preventing us from becoming fiery or excited about spirituality. Today, when the identity of the historical Amalek remains in question, the obligation to oppose him plays out on the spiritual front, against our complacency and cynicism concerning the supernatural areas of Judaism, against our own doubts. The following poem is written against the backdrop of this idea.


With Great Joy, My Friend Danced Before His Bride

He kicked his legs in the air and thrust his portly body so high,
none of the wedding guests encircling him could
believe it. And had you seen
the innocence
on his face, you would know
what it was like to stand as a Jew at Mount Sinai,
to see the eyelids of parents and children
parted as wide as a sea, in equal amazement.

And if, a short while later,
when my friend lost three successive jobs,
you heard the voices of those who said,
You see, the marriage was all a big mistake,
it should have been thought through a little more thoroughly,

then you would know how that great cynic Amalek
tries to make a Jew doubt that he comes from a place
a little higher than this world,
that he is more than just a heavy body carrying a trunk of sorrow
in the direction of probability’s push.

And if you saw how my friend leaped high out of his bed
and printed out a thousand copies of his resume--
how he believed in himself and his young marriage
enough to save them both—

then you might begin to understand what Mark Twain meant
when he said, All things are mortal but the Jew;
all other forces pass, but he remains.

And you might remember or not forget
that Amalek is just a liar
and, despite what he says,
and though it has taken so long,

the world is waiting to be made holy.