Purim and Shabbat Zachor


Purim, which we celebrate this coming Wednesday and Thursday allows us the opportunity to turn our world topsy-turvy and to access our inner child. We can try out new identities behind costumes, masks and silliness. We can try out different versions of Hamentaschen as well. The Shabbat before Purim is called Shabbat Zachor, famously named for the counterintuitive demand in the maftir (Deuteronomy 25:19), “…you shall blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven. Do not forget!”  How is it truly possible to forget something if one is required to remember to do so?!  I believe this statement suggests a deep psychological truth. Often we need to forget a painful  event and move on with our lives if we are to survive and thrive. Yet we also need to acknowledge the lasting harm that has been done-the scars, fears, and tender spots that will always remain. We act out this paradox every time we sound our groggers during the megillah reading. We need to listen carefully for the name of Haman (known as a descendant of Amalek) so that we can drown it out with the loudest noise we make all year! We try to remember and blot out at the same time. So Purim, our silliest (in a good way) holiday, also contains within it a serious message.