1. One of the 613 mitzvos of the Torah is “Zachor – Remember what Amalek did.”1 This mitzvah is fulfilled once a year through reading2 that command in the Torah.3 This reading is the only one which is considered a Torah command.4 Through the Torah reading, the listeners also fulfill the command of “Do not forget (what Amalek did)” and strengthen their resolution to “wipe out the memory of Amalek.”

Though the destruction of Amalek is also a Torah command, the command to “Remember Amalek” is more prominent. The mitzvah of destroying Amalek is dependent upon two conditions: The Jewish people must be settled in Israel and they must have already appointed a king over themselves.5 Throughout the continuum of Jewish history, the times when these conditions could have been met are very few. However, the mitzvah of remembering Amalek applied before a king was chosen and applies even now when there is no king.6

A basic question arises concerning the definition of the command to wipe out the memory of Amalek. How can that command be fulfilled when there is another command, “Don’t forget Amalek?” How can one not forget something without remembering it?”

This fundamental contradiction clearly points out that it is necessary to stress the spiritual aspects of the mitzvos connected with Amalek. Through the comprehension of the mitzvos’ spiritual meaning we can resolve this question. The spiritual aspects of the mitzvah are very important now — when Mashiach has not yet come and we have no king.7 Still, the mitzvah of “Zachor” applies now and the performance of that mitzvah produces a powerful effect.

The nature of the mitzvah of “Zachor” is expressed by the Torah reading — Amalek “met you on the way out of Egypt.” The Haftorah8 develops the point noting that Amalek attacked the Jews “when you arose from Egypt.” The Exodus from Egypt refers to the service of “turn from bad” (and also the service of “do good” which is equal to it). The phrase “arose from Egypt” refers to the elevation which was brought about by the entire process of Exile and Exodus.

The ultimate level of elevation that resulted from the Exile in Egypt was the giving of the Torah. Therefore, G‑d explained to Moses “when you take this nation out of Egypt, you shall serve Me on this mountain.” This promise referred to the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai. In his commentary, Rashi relates how the merit of this future service brought about the redemption from slavery.9

The Torah refers to Egypt as the “nakedness of the land.” That society was so debased that, we are specifically commanded “Do not follow the actions of Egypt.” The giving of the Torah, on the other hand, represented the ultimate in spiritual elevation. Even while in Egypt, the elders knew of the upcoming redemption and understood that its climax would be the giving of the Torah.10 In the middle of this process of elevation, (after the Jews left Egypt and were on their way to receive the Torah) Amalek stopped them.

Precisely, the nature of the interruption Amalek caused can be better understood through a closer examination of the relationship between the Exodus from Egypt and the giving of the Torah. That, in turn, is best explained through the preface of a fundamental question: What was so important about the giving of the Torah? Our Sages teach that Avraham studied the entire Torah and fulfilled all the Mitzvos down to the slightest detail. He also “commanded his children to do righteousness and justice,” i.e., transmitted the Torah to his son Yitzchak (who gave it to his son Yaakov, who gave it to his children, who communicated it at least in part, to their descendents, the Jews who Moshe took out of Egypt). If so, what was so important about Mt. Sinai? Why did G‑d have to give the Torah a second time?

The difference is that before Matan Torah , everything was limited. A spiritual decree existed: “The upper realms shall not descend to the lower, the lower shall not ascend to the higher.” Therefore, though the forefathers fulfilled Torah and Mitzvos, in fact fulfilled them in the most refined and elevated matter a human being could, this performance was still limited by the nature of their humanity. They reached the highest levels a creation could, but were restricted by boundaries of that category. They could not connect with those aspects of G‑dliness that transcended creation.

At Matan Torah, that decree was annulled. G‑d descended on Mt. Sinai (the upper realm descended) which allowed a Jew through his service of Torah and Mitzvos to connect with G‑d (the below ascended). Now every Jew, even the most simple, when he performs a mitzvah, brings himself into contact with G‑d. The very definition of the word “mitzvah,” — bond and connection — denotes this relationship.

Matan Torah produced a similar effect in the area of Torah study. From then on we are told “I will put My words in your mouth.;” “I am the teaching that speaks from your mouth.” When a Jew studies Torah “G‑d studies opposite him,” “the Shechinah speaks from his throat.”11

This change shows the connection between the Exodus from Egypt and the giving of the Torah. The Hebrew word for Egypt is “Mitzrayim,” meaning boundaries and limitations. Only after the giving of the Torah is it possible to truly leave Egypt, to break out of all your confinements and restrictions. ‘‘

The giving of the Torah allows the Jews to transcend not only the limitations of his body and animal soul, but even those of his G‑dly soul. Since the G‑dly soul is enveloped in the body and the animal soul, its energy becomes restricted. Without those restrictions, there is no way it could be connected with them.12

This concept has a practical application. You may feel that you have learned Torah in a proper manner, according to the will of your G‑dly soul. What happens when you hear the command of the Nasi (the leader of the generation), the Previous Rebbe, to supplement and intensify your Torah study.13 You might protest, “I’ve just fulfilled the desires of my G‑dly soul in all matters, including Torah study.” Though your statement is justified, it’s justified only within the limited scope of your G‑dly soul. You have the potential, with help from the Nasi, to transcend those limits and further add to your Torah study.

A similar concept applies concerning the performance of mitzvos.14 Even though you have devoted yourself, to the fullest extent of your powers, to the performance of mitzvos, there is still room for further growth. In our prayers, we mention that after the rebuilding of the Bais HaMikdash, we will be able to fulfill mitzvos “in accordance with your will.” Until then, there is room for progress.

It is in these stages before total development, particularly in the lower levels, for example the performance of mitzvos out of habit, where Amalek can have an influence. This type of service is described as “following after G‑d.” In Hebrew the word for after — “achrei” — also means “back.” Though the Jew is following G-.d, he is progressing, that progress still connects him only to G‑d’s “back,” not to his face, i.e., his innermost energies. Amalek strikes a Jew at that level. The Torah relates how Amalek attacked those whose “straggled after you,” those who were outside the protective shield of the clouds of glory. Their physical position resulted from their spiritual level. These were the individuals susceptible to Amalek’s attack.

However, when you fulfill all the levels of “following after G‑d,” as the verse in Devarim 13:5 continues, “fear him, keep His commandments, cling to Him,” then your service progresses and approaches G‑d’s face, His innermost energies. Through looking for your face (inner-self) you establish a connection with G‑d. This growth begins and is related to the giving of the Torah when “face-to-face” (i.e. innermost-self to innermost-self) G‑d spoke to you. When this service is completed, we wipe out our personal Amalek, This, in turn, brings about the era when the nation of Amalek will be utterly wiped out — with the coming of Mashiach — who will fight the wars of G‑d — including the war with Amalek r and then rebuild the Bais HaMikdash and gather in the exiles, speedily in our days.

2. The mitzvah of Zachor is fulfilled once a year by reading the selection from the Torah describing the mitzvah. Each year, that reading takes place on the Shabbos before Purim. Purim is intrinsically related to Parshas Zachor. The first war which aimed at fulfilling the mitzvah of wiping out Amalek was waged by King Saul. Agag was the King of Amalek at that time. Centuries later Haman, a descendent of Agag, and Mordechai and Esther, closely related to King Saul become the principal figures of the Purim story.

That relationship is further emphasized this year when Parshas Zachor is read on the 11th of Adar which is included in the “days of Purim.” That term refers to the five dates on which, as the Mishnah teaches, the Megillah can be read, the 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, and 15th of Adar.

The last statement appears to contradict a Halachic decision of the Jerusalem Talmud. There, our Sages say that in the event of unavoidable circumstances, the Megillah can be read on any day in the month of Adar. Furthermore, in this case, you cannot say that there are two conflicting opinions, since the Shulchan Aruch quotes both statements as accepted Torah law.

What’s the difference between the two opinions? The answer revolves around the basic definition of the Jerusalem Talmud’s statement. The Megillah should be read on Purim. That is the appointed time for the mitzvah. The Jerusalem Talmud explains that if circumstances prevent you from reading the Megillah on Purim, how can read it (.and thereby fulfill the mitzvah) on any day in Adar. However, then, the performance of the mitzvah lacks the quality of being fulfilled “in its time.”15 When the Megillah is read on the 11th (and 12th and 13th) of Adar, as prescribed in the Mishnah mentioned above, it is considered as if it was read “in its appointed time.”

The concept of fulfilling a mitzvah “in its appointed time” has practical ramifications. The performance of a mitzvah “in its time” enjoys precedence over the performance of other mitzvos. If faced with a conflict between reading the Megillah or performing another mitzvah in “the days of Purim (the 11th — 15th) the reading of the Megillah takes priority. However, throughout the month of Adar both are considered of a dual statue.

3. The decree to destroy the Jewish people described in the Megillah came about through Haman’s claim to King Achashveirosh “there is one nation, spread out and separated...” The question arises, “How could G‑d allow the decree to be enacted?” The Midrash relates that every time the phrase “the king” is mentioned in the Megillah, it refers not only to Achashveirosh, but to G‑d, King of Kings.16 Haman’s decree was accepted not only by the world’s physical ruler, the king of Persia, but by its ultimate ruler, G‑d Himself.

(In truth, this concept must be accepted even without reliance on the above-mentioned Midrash. Our Sages commented “a person does not stub his finger unless it was decreed from Above.” One of the foundations of Torah is that G‑d is the master of the world and controls every facet of it. Anything which occurs in this world happens, not only because He lets it happens, but because He wants it to happen. This control particularly applies to anything which concerns the Jews, His holy and chosen people. There, the “Hashgachah Peratis,” Divine Control, is more direct.17 )

How could Haman’s decree be accepted? Because it contains a germ of truth. Falsehood has no feet, i.e., it has no perpetuation. His argument was backed by truth and therefore, his decree was accepted by Achashveirosh as law.

The truth of Haman’s argument lay in the phrase “spread out and separate.” On the verse in Hoshea, “Ephraim is joined to idols — let him be,” the Midrash comments — even if idol worshippers go to war and are in danger, opposed by a more powerful enemy, they will succeed. Why? Because they are joined. Because there is unity among them. Haman’s decree was accepted because of the disunity of the Jewish people.18

What gave rise to such a situation? How could the Jews become “spread out and separate?” The responsibility lies with G‑d Himself. G‑d sent his only son (the Jewish people) out among the nations. Since it’s natural for a human being to learn from his neighbors19 (as the Rambam says — people are social) there is no wonder that after their dispersement throughout the world differences arose between Jews.

It follows that the negation of Haman’s decree was brought about by an opposite approach “Go, collect all the Jews.” By collecting all the Jews together, merely once, the decree would be annulled. After all, if unity among idol-worshippers will bring them success, how much more so will unity among the Jews bring about a similar outcome!

The same concept applies to our present situation. We, also, are faced with severe decrees. We must respond by collecting all the Jews. Then, a parallel to the Purim miracle will result. On the verse in the Megillah, “these days are remembered and celebrated,” the Ari z”1 commented, through remembering them properly, they will be celebrated as intensely as the first time. If we “collect all the Jews,” all the decrees against them will be annulled. Gatherings should be organized before Purim20 and; emphasis placed on Torah, Tefillah, and the performance of Mitzvos.21 These will add to our celebration of Purim and help bring ‘‘ about a time when Purim will be the only holiday celebrated (as the Talmud says — in Messianic times, the celebration of all the holidays other than Purim will be annulled) with the coming of’ Mashiach speedily in our days.

4. On the verse (Exodus 28:41) “and you shall fill their hand,” Rashi explains that the term filling the hand always means ‘initiation into a new office, to be installed in it from that day onward’ (as Aharon and his sons were installed as priests).” He continues, bringing an example from the way officers were installed in France, “when they appointed someone to administer an office, the ruler placed in his hand a leather glove called “gant” in Old French) and this act of transmission was called ‘reyistir’ in Old French.”

The question that motivated Rashi to provide this explanation is evident.. No where in the whole narrative did Moshe put anything into Aharon’s hand.22 Therefore, the interpretation of the phrase “fill their hands” must be taken figuratively and not literally. Rashi defines the term as initiation. In order to show the connection of initiation to filling one’s hand, he brings the example of the installation to office in France.

However, according to his commentary another question arises. How can the procedure for installation of officers in France serge. as a proof for a Torah. concept. In no instance, in the Torah, the prophets, or Talmud do we see installation connected with placing an object in someone’s hand,23 In the face of this precedent, how is this French custom a proof?

The answer to that question reveals a different approach to the entire issue. Another difficulty was bothering Rashi which he answered in his commentary. How did Moshe fill Aharon’s hand (install him into priesthood)? By enclothing him in the priestly garment, Rashi. wants to bring his reader a proof that enclothing is connected with installation. Therefore, he uses the French procedure (the translation of its name, revestir, meaning enclothe) as a proof of that connection,

Rashi’s commentary contains “the wine of Torah” — Torah’s secrets, It shads light on questions of personal behavior and basic concepts necessary for a Torah education, This above interpretation indirectly teaches a fundamental Torah principle. The Baal Shem Tov taught that “everything a Jew sees or hears is a lesson for him in the service of O-d.” People protested against that doctrine, questioning “How can you learn about serving O-.d from a non-Jew? How can events in the secular world teach-Torah principles?” In Rashi’s commentary, we see how Rashi learned something from a French custom and a French word.

This principle is further marked by a story told about Rashi.24 Rashi was a merchant and traveled frequently. Once he saw a woman riding a horse. He recalled the Talmud’s statement that a woman should not ride because of indecency and felt downcast. Why had he been exposed to such a sight? Later, when in his commentary in the beginning of Parshas Tetzaveh, he was trying to explain what the priests’ “ephod” (apron) looked like, it occurred to him that it resembled the riding apron that he had seen on that woman. He wrote that comparison into his commentary. In this instance as well, Rashi showed how everything in the world, even something Torah considers undesirable, can teach a Jew a lesson in the service of G‑d.

5. Translator’s note: In his discussion on his father’s commentary on the Zohar, the Rebbe questioned the order used in the Mishnah “The Megillah is read on the 11th, 12th,...15th”... Since the Hebrew letters for fifteen are Yud-Hay (the first two letters of the Tetragrammaton.) and those for eleven are the equivalent of Vav-Hay (the last two), it would seem proper for the Mishnah to use the reverse order.

(Translator’s note: The key to the answer is found in the expression about the Ten Sefiros — G‑d’s Ten Attributes — 10 not 9; 10 not 11). The number 11 is related to the forces of evil. However, since the whole concept of Purim revolves around the turnabout of evil to good, it is proper to start with eleven.

Examples of how Purim relates to that turnabout can be seen from the fact that although the Jews remained “servants of Achashveirosh” even after the Purim miracle, nevertheless the celebration of this holiday is more intense than that of other festivals. The same concept can be seen in the Megillah; no where in its text is G‑d’s name mentioned. Yet, the Talmud explains that in Messianic times it will be the only book of the Nach to remain. The same principle also relates to Yom Kippur (which is tied to Purim since its name “Yom Kippurim” can be translated as “a day like Purim”). Then, the main service centered on the incense offering which contained 11 spices (again showing how evil is transformed to good).