Naphtali Perlberger

Chazak, Chazak

Tuesday is around the corner.  Just any other day?  Or does it have a significance of epic proportions?  Are the confluence of circumstances merely happenstance or is there Hasgacha Pratis operating here?

Today, in shuls around the world, parsha Zachor was read: “Remember what Amalek did to you on the road, on your way out of Egypt, that he happened upon you on the way . . .”  What a strange verb to find in the Torah!  Amalek just “happened”?  But the line goes on — “cut off those lagging to your rear, when you were tired and exhausted.”  Who were “those”?  They were those weak in spirit, they were the doubters, even after the Splitting of the Sea.  The numerical value of the Hebrew word, “Amalek” is equal to the word, “sofek” (doubt).  When the Jewish people have doubt, they are vulnerable to those who wish to destroy us. To the “doubters”, everything happens by chance, randomly.  But, to those who know that everything occurs at the Will of G-d, that He operates in this world through Divine Providence, there are no coincidences, AND, more importantly, if we are strong, we are invincible!

PM Netanyahu is about to address Congress.  Reportedly, he will speak about the peril confronting Israel and the Western world. He will not flinch to call our aggressors, “Islamic terrorists”.  He will state a reality that is the only reality.  He will urge Congress to reject any deal with Iran that opens the door to the completion of its relentless pursuit of nuclear power.  He will paint a picture that the Administration refuses to portray to the American people and to the world.

His visit is not welcome. Invited by Congress, our President has, directly and through his underlings, villified the Prime Minister, all under the excuse that his address breaks protocol.  Without an invitation from the White House, how dare he come?  It is a ploy of a desperate candidate on the eve of elections. Protocol — at the same time, we learn that a team of campaign experts are in Israel, at the behest of the White House, to disrupt Netanyahu’s bid for another term of office, to help his opponent win.  Where’s the rationale, the protocol and the right of such intervention?  What is the White House afraid of and why is this speech so vital, so necessary?

Perhaps, without appreciating the full Biblical roots of this intended address, Netanyahu’s speech has become, because of the strong opposition to it, global in perspective — the whole world will be hearing every word spoken, before Congress and from White House sources. Unwittingly, the opposition has actually raised a mere address by a dignitary — something that occurs regularly — to one of epic proportions.  It has become the media event of the year and, as I will discuss, the potential turning point of this century!

Am I exaggerating?  You decide.

The speech will be given the day before Purim.  The Purim story, memorialized in Megillas Esther, relates how Haman, an Amalekite (the emissary of destruction when the Jewish people DOUBT), enters into a diabolical plot, sanctioned by King Ahasheverus, to unleash mass extermination of Jews in all 127 provinces of the Persian Empire.  Prior to the signing of that death decree, the Megillah opens with a lavish banquet to which the important people of Shushan were invited, including the leaders of the Jewish community. They all came. King Ahasheverus’ reason for the banquet was to celebrate his erroneous calculation that the 70 years, prophesied for the return of Jews to Israel when they would rebuild the Temple destroyed by Babylon, had come and gone.

Finally, he thought, there was cosmic proof that the G-d of Israel had abandoned the Jews, or better yet, that the polytheistic gods of their conquerors was stronger.  Finally, the door was open to exterminate the Jews without Divine repercussions. He walked into the banquet, dressed in the holy clothes of the kohen gadol, the clothes the high priest wore on Yom Kippur, when he would enter the Holy of Holies and obtain atonement for all sins, and renew the Covenant with Israel. The banquet table was set with the golden goblets and utensils looted from Jerusalem, robbed from the treasury of the Temple. Jews attended this banquet!  How assimilated, how numbed they were. How weak in spirit, how full of doubt — like the hindmost of those who were attacked by Amalek centuries before!

Into this stage of history walked Mordechai and Esther.  Providentially, Esther becomes the Queen of the Persian Empire. And – Mordechai driven by events orchestrated by G-d rises to save the Jews on the eve of their destruction, turning the tables, and it is their would-be assasins that are killed on that fateful day, and it is Haman that is hanged from the gallows he built to kill Mordechai and display his body to the Jews of Shushan.

Mordechai, we are told in the Megillah, is a Benjaminite. Who is Benjamin?  His namesake was given this name by Jacob, and it means, “son of the right”.  Metaphysically, the “right” represents power, truth and strength.  Benjamin is named to be the living symbol of “Right”.  He is the only son born to Jacob in the Land of Israel. He is the 12th, completing the prophetic complement that would be the Tribes of Israel. He would be the only brother who would not conspire to sell his brother, Joseph into slavery — a sentence that would be transformed into the vehicle that would prove to be the geulah 210 years later!  It would be in his territory, in Benjamin’s portion of Israel, that the Temple would be built!

And so, in the aftermath of the banquet that celebrated the mistaken belief that the Jews would not survive and would not return to rebuild the Temple, that Mordechai comes to the forefront of G-d’s Plan — it was after all, HIS-story, not Persia’s that was to unfold.

Mordechai was a Benjaminite.  And — providentially, it is Benjamin Netanyahu that will stand before Congress, against world cries of hatred, threats of annihilation, and brutal lies.  As the Middle East bubbles over with concerted plans to annihilate Jews once again, Benjamin approaches.

What will he speak about?  Iran — the unconcealed threat that it poses for the survival of Israel, a nation that does not hide its plan to actualize this death wish into the heartland of America. What is Iran? Iran is modern-day Persia.  Wow?  Did you know that?

On this stage of public opinion, in the chambers of Congress, broadcast and followed by the world media, Benjamin shall warn of the perils of Persia.  Like Mordechai before him, he will do so to a world that is weak, full of doubt, and lacking any resolute will to name Evil, to defend against its murderous plans, and to defeat the very enemy that seeks our destruction.  However the world distorts or recasts the words and emotions of Benjamin on Tuesday, its message will be clear and a clarion call to action.

The Jews of Shushan heard, repented and coalesced.  The Jews of Shushan renewed the Covenant with G-d, and rejected the wave of assimilation that had made them vulnerable to Amalek’s designs. Will the Jews of the 21st century hear and unite behind Israel? Will the Western world appreciate the danger, and rally against their enemies? And, of immediate concern, will the geo-political tide that threatens to drown us in the bloodbath of carnage designed by the so-called “extremists” be turned, ending for now, any plans to bless Iran’s nuclear program?

Remove the Doubt — the weakness that makes us vulnerable — name our enemies and reveal the Truth of their designs — and we will defeat Amalek.  We will defeat all those who seek the destruction of Israel, the extermination of Jews, and don’t be fooled, the deaths of all those who will not embrace Islam.  This is, first and foremost, for Israel a matter of survival.  At the same time, globally, this is a War that must be fought with the same fervor and resoluteness that our enemies possess.  Their strength is in our doubts.

So, Benjamin — chazak, chazak.  Do not flinch. Do not water down the words you are privileged to utter.  Embrace the opportunity that faces you — you may be the vehicle, the leader that brings us out of Darkness.  But, do not think of this as happenstance, mere coincidence.  G-d is the Conductor, and you are his instrument. Play this orchesteral piece as it is designed to be — as Purim awaits us. May we celebrate this Purim as the Jews of Persia celebrated theirs!

About the Author
Naphtali Perlberger is a senior lecturer for AISH HaTorah and gives weekly shiurim at Chabad of Golden Beach and Aish Chaim of the Main Line. He is one of the founders and a past president of the Philadelphia Community Kollel. He is Founder & President of Philadelphia Chapter of Children of the Holocaust, and past FJA Chairman of Men's Organizations; past President of Kosloff Torah Academy; and, talk show host for a radio show, "G-d is Listening".