I do not hate anything or anyone. Sure, I don't enjoy eating broccoli, and I find certain hobbies irritating in the extreme, but hate? Never!

Well, maybe. We read this week the second of the so-called 'four special readings'. The Shabbat before Purim is known as Parshat Zachor when we remember the evil that the Biblical tribe of Amalek visited on our ancestors immediately after their escaping Egypt. It was only due to the grace of heaven and some inspirational leadership from Moses, that we survived their vicious, unprovoked attack.

We Hate Amalek

In Jewish philosophy Amalek represents pure, undifferentiated evil. The skirmish in the desert was just the first act of aggression in a never-ending history of Jew-baiting and persecution. Our enemies have appeared throughout history and have representatives in every class and society. They are distinguished by their irrational, undisguised malice and never miss an opportunity to cause harm.

The skirmish in the desert was just the first act of aggression in a never-ending history of Jew-baitingWe, the descendents of Amalek's original prey are enjoined to remember. Remember what Amalek did to you…Never forget! (Maftir Zachor). There is a standing daily commandment to constantly bear in mind the existence of evil and to never make peace with it. Additionally, in the lead up to Purim when G‑d saved us from Haman, the Ambassador of Amalek of the time, we formally commemorate the evil that is Amalek.

The only guarantee that one will never make one's peace with evil is to constantly remind oneself of its existence, and consciously declare one's hatred of all that evil stands for.

I Believe in You

From a psychological perspective Amalek represents doubt. Amalek is the splash of cold water dousing one's enthusiasm and excitement. How often have you started on an undertaking, all fired up to meet the challenges that lie ahead, only to be deflated by the cynical words of some skeptical bystander.

It is natural to have faith in G‑d. Indeed, every small child discovers for himself a belief in a higher power. Unfortunately, this trust, the wide-eyed wonder, is usually shattered by some adult deliberately imposing his own cold-hearted hyper-rationalistic viewpoint on the immature mind, forever destroying the innocence. Once gone, this belief can only ever be rediscovered by an effort of will; by deliberately turning one's back on rationalism and breaking through the barrier of skepticism. That which was once instinctive must now become deliberate.

The Jewish people, post Egypt, were riding high on the wave of belief. Newly conceived as a nation, they had a child-like trust in G‑d and the faith to conquer all challenges that lay ahead. Amalek, in all their malevolence, came crashing through this barrier of conviction. Amalek lost the battle but the psychological scars they inflicted left permanent wounds on our national psyche. We can only ever recapture this excitement for our national mission by deliberately overcoming our hesitations and consciously taking that leap of faith into G‑d's arms.

Drink Till You Drop

Purim represents this crash-and-burn style of faith. We suspend belief in the forces of nature and rely solely on the forces of G‑d. This leap of faith is often too hard to accomplish without external supplements and the thinking Jew will resort to fortifying his faith with fortified spirits. Rather than decrying alcohol use on Purim as an opiate of the masses we recognize that by dulling the sense of cynicism we can allow our primal nature to shine.

Happy Purim.

Nothing in the above message should be taken as an endorsement of underage drinking or irresponsible behavior. Please act responsibly and drink responsibly this Purim – EG