Shabbat Zachor: remember the evils of the past

“Remember what Amalek did to you…” Deuteronomy 25:17-19
“Zachor” with cantor marks

Shabbat Zachor ( שבת זכור ) is the “sabbath of remembering”.  It is observed on the sabbath before Purim, the Jewish holiday derived from the book of Esther.

In 2018, Shabbat Zachor begins at sundown on Friday, Feb. 23.  Purim is from Wednesday February 28 to Thursday March 1, from sundown to sundown. This is a holiday that women in particular are expected to observe.

Shabbat Zachor is about evil.

I was always taught that the crimes of Amalek represent a particularly heinous form of immorality. Amalek attacked, without provocation, the defenseless Israelites from behind, where the weak and exhausted people were. The immorality exhibited by Amalek in their attack on the weak and defenseless represents the antithesis of Jewish morality which is so concerned with protecting the weak and defenseless.

Our tradition treats the crimes of Amalek with utmost severity and there are therefore three separate commandments relating to Amalek; their actions must never be forgotten, their actions must be remembered and their memory must be wiped out.

The readings for the day are:  Torah: Deuteronomy  25:17-19 and Haftarah (selected prophets) : 1 Samuel 15:2-34. And there is one here you can listen to.

The stick or Torah pointer is called a yad, literally “hand” in Hebrew. The “pazer” mentioned in the comments is a cantillation mark, a sort of musical notation for chanting.

amalek kugel for zochaer kugel-kosher-recipesThe day has its own food as well, Amalek kugel for Parshat Zachor.  The four kugels are eaten together in some places in Europe to symbolically annihilate the Amaleks by eating them.  The four types of kugel stand for the four letters in the word for Amalek: A for apple or epel (the ayin), M for flour, or mehl (the mem), L for lukshen or noodles (the lamed), and K for kartofel or potatoes (the kuf).

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