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Parashat Tetzaveh - 5777

Dear friends,

The Shabbat that falls before Purim is called Shabbat Zachor, because we read a short passage from the Book of Deuteronomy, where we are commanded:

ZACHOR - "Remember what Amalek did to you when you were liberated from Egypt." (Deuteronomy 25:17)

Unprovoked and for no reason, Amalek attacked the stragglers of Israel's camp.

Purim, which begins this Saturday evening, is celebrated to remember another Amalek, in the person of Haman who tried to to annihilate all the Jews of Persia. We read Zachor to remember that, in every generation, there are people who get great pleasure from hating Jews.

The regular Torah reading for this Shabbat is Parashat Tetzaveh, where Moses continues sharing with the people the details of the construction of the Tabernacle. In the first two verses of this Parasha, Moses is told to command the Children of Israel to bring to the Tabernacle "pure olive oil beaten for the light to cause a lamp to burn continually". Aaron, the High Priest, and his descendants will light the Menorah every night to bring light unto the world.

Every few years, these two readings, Tetzaveh and Zachor, fall on the same Shabbat. Zachor commands us to remember the darkness that was brought upon us by racists and haters of the Jewish people of all times. Even today, Jewish institutions are in the news because of threats by unknown groups who wish to instill fear in our people.

But the portion of Tetzaveh speaks of the light that is spread by the work of those who care enough to bring tolerance and understanding between all people. A light does not discriminate. It enlightens the lives of all those who are open to accept this great gift. Our prayer is that people of all backgrounds will be enlightened to see the good in every human being, and respect and appreciate the rights of all people, as all of us have been created in the image of G-d.

On this Shabbat Zachor - 'REMEMBER' - we remember another commandment that begins with the word 'Zachor' - 'REMEMBER' - Remember the Shabbat.

Yes, we remember Amalek and the long list of Jewish haters, but we also remember the Shabbat. We remember that, throughout the generations, Shabbat has been the strongest and most important Jewish practice that has kept us connected to our faith, enabling us to survive, grow and continue to make significant contributions to the world around us. That is the strength of the Jewish spirit as represented by the light in the Tabernacle that we read about this Shabbat, and by the light that we bring into our homes when lighting the Shabbat candles week after week.

Shabbat Shalom and have a joyous and Happy Purim!!