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Purim (5771)

Next week, we will celebrate the holiday of Purim, when the Jews fought and defeated the forces of Haman some 2,500 years ago.

These 'forces', called 'Amalek' (Ex. 17:8) are the same that attacked the Jews a thousand years earlier when they left Egypt and exist today in the form of anti-Semitism in the world and within each of us.

Indeed, the Lubavitcher Rebbe once said that we cannot defeat the 'Amelek' outside until each of us defeats the little Amalek from within.

According to Chassidic teachings each of us has a small 'Amalek' within and according to Jewish tradition ONLY the Moshiach can eradicate both the Amelek within and without.

Here is a story that will illustrate

A holocaust survivor called Oscar Liff. It was Lifshitz before he Americanized it in an attempt to sever from the Jewish people. But one could hardly blame him after what he had been through.

He was born in Warsaw in the late 1920s into a traditionally Jewish family and when the Germans took over Poland he was in his early teens. His parents thought that Germany only wanted more land and that in the end it would be good for everyone. After all, they said, the Germans were a cultured, educated people, if anyone could refine the boorish Poles it would be the Germans.

But Oscar thought differently. He didn't trust the Germans. He didn't like the way they strutted around and their anti-Semitic slogans he had seen. Against the wishes of his parents he joined the Polish underground and fought the Nazi invaders - and in the end that is what saved him.

It wasn't long before his father died from a heart attack. Then, shortly thereafter, one afternoon as he happened to be on the roof of his apartment looking down at the street he saw the Germans escort his sister and brother out of the house into the street with several others and shoot them dead. Minutes later a wagon laden with corpses came to take them away.

Next his mother and other sisters were taken to Auschwitz and finally, in April of 1943, the entire Ghetto was destroyed and all its remaining inhabitants were exterminated.

Now Oscar fought for revenge. True, the Polish themselves were no less Jew haters than the Germans but luckily for him, Oscar didn't look Jewish so the Poles let them join their partisan fighters and left him alone.

Nevertheless when the Russians invaded Germany Oscar joined their forces and finally 'merited' to be among those that liberated Auschwitz in 1945. But what he saw there would haunt him for the next thirty years.

There were emaciated, inhuman filthy Jewish bodies dead and the alive everywhere, staring insanely at nothing. This is what they got for being Jewish! For a week he wandered the camp day and night searching madly for his mother and sisters and found nothing.

He ran from the army. The war was over, they wouldn't let him kill any more Germans. He crossed border after border until finally he was on a ship to America.

He was alone, no roots, no past, no friends, no family and not much future. Only one passionate desire burned in his heart; to get as far from Judaism as possible, He moved to Los Angeles, changed his name to Leff. Learned to speak English and threw his heart and soul into business every minute of the day. He would forget the past.

But when he would come home at night and it was still...he would remember. The memories were hell

So every evening he would turn on the T.V. and watch it till he fell asleep. That way he would never have a quiet moment.

Then one evening in 1976 after a hard day at work, just as he was drowsing off in front of the T.V. something startled him. There, before him on the TV screen was an old Rabbi speaking in Yiddish.

At first Oscar couldn't believe his eyes. Who would want to watch a thing like that? His first impulse was to turn it off but he waited a few minutes to see if something would happen. It didn't. The Rabbi just kept talking and an English translation rolled across the screen below him. All the hatred Oscar had for Judaism welled up inside of him again like a flood.

But something stopped him from justchanging the channel.

The Rabbi had a unique look about him with unusually deep and powerfully kind eyes. But what could he possible have to say that was so important?

Again he leaned forward to turn it off when suddenly the Rabbi said, "Any Jew after the war that runs from Judaism is giving a prize to Hitler." Oscar stared at the translation as it moved across the screen.

"The Germans tried to destroy the Jewish people and our best revenge to the Germans is to strengthen and continue Judaism."

He sat as though struck by lightning. He didn't remember a word of what that Rabbi said afterwards. Just that those eyes and words woke something deep in his soul.

A telephone number floated across the screen and Oscar wrote it down. When the speech ended he called the number. It was the middle of the night but someone answered and they made an appointment for the next morning. That entire night he didn't sleep; he lay in bed and wept.

The next morning Oscar found the address. It was a Chabad House in Los Angles. There he got a written summary of the speech and spent the entire day just going over that sentence; "One who runs from Judaism gives a prize to Hitler."

The next day he went to the printers and ordered new business cards with the name Lipshitz then went back to the Chabad house and ordered his first pair of Tefillin since his Bar Mitzva. Then he made a vow to begin being an observant Jew.

Oscar had defeated Hitler.

This is what we celebrate on Purim… the eradication of doubt. The Hebrew word 'Amalek' is the same numerical value as 'doubt' (Saffek=240).

The Jews are G-d's chosen people: chosen to inform the world that G-d creates, loves, provides for and enlivens each human being constantly.

But when the Jews have doubts within themselves about this, then Amalek rears his ugly head without.

That is the story of Purim. One Jew: Mordechi HaYehudi, not only refused to bow to Haman but he infused this certainty into all the Jews of his generation as well. The result was "The Jews had Light, Joy, happiness and glory." (Esther 8:16)

And so it will be to us. We must read the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe (see your local Chabad House for details). This will give us a new certainty and power to defeat all doubts and fears.

Then it is very possible that if we do just one more good deed, say one good word or even think one good thought, it can tip the scales and bring universal peace, joy, blessing and meaning with...

Moshiach NOW!

Copyright © 1999-2018 Rabbi Tuvia Bolton. All rights reserved. No unauthorized reproduction or copying of this material shall occur without prior permission.

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