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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review March 25, 2005 / 14 Adar II, 5765

Making fun of the scoffers

By Jonathan Rosenblum


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Purim celebrates the triumph of the Jewish people over Haman. That triumph presages the destruction at the end of time of Amalek, from whom Haman descends.


Amalek is the antithesis of the Jewish people, and that is why his end must be destruction: "Amalek is the first of the nations, and his end is destruction" (Numbers 24:20). Amalek was the first of the nation to engage the Jewish people in battle upon our exodus from Egypt, and G-d's full revelation in history is only complete with his destruction.


Amalek personifies the quality of scoffing. He attributes importance to nothing. Life does not exist for him beyond the immediate moment. The Jewish people, by contrast, are defined by their relationship with a transcendental G-d, Who imbues every moment with meaning.


Esau, Amalek's grandfather, sold his birthright for a pot of lentils because the divine service that went with the birthright meant nothing to him: "And he ate and drank and got up and went and despised the birthright" (Genesis 25:34). The series of short, active verbs, in rapid fire succession capture Esav — all action and no reflection. He was little more than an animal fulfilling his instincts.


At the culmination of his wrestling match with the guardian angel of Esau, Jacob asks the angel his name, and the angel replies, "Why do you ask me my name?" The angel of Esau was not following the time-honored Jewish custom of answering a question with a question, but rather saying, "I have no name, no essence. I represent a world where all values are transitory and provisional."


A child asks her mother, what she should want to be when she grows up, and the mother responds, "Good-looking, popular, rich, and powerful." But when the child probes further, the mother can do no better than to cut her off curtly, "Because everyone wants those things." The mother's inability to point to any standard other than popular opinion mimics the inability of the angel of Esau to define his essence.


Until Amalek attacked Israel, all the nations trembled before Israel, for they had heard of the miracles G-d did on their behalf. But once Amalek attacked, the awe of Israel and their G-d was diminished. Though Amalek was routed, others came in his place, reasoning that it was only a matter of adopting better tactics. Thus our Sages compare Amalek to one who jumps into a boiling bath: Even though he is scalded, he cools off the bath for all who come after him.


Amalek cut off the sign of the covenant between G-d and Abraham from the Jews he killed and cast it towards Heaven, as if to deny the existence of a transcendant G-d by mocking His covenant. Amalek's descendant Haman was a scoffer in the same mold. According to the Midrash, when he first proposed to Achashverosh to destroy the entire Jewish people, the latter warned him that it was dangerous to start up with the Jewish people and their G-d. Witness the horrible end that came to Pharoah, Sancheriv, and Nebuchanezar. Haman mockingly replied, "Their G-d has grown old."


ON PURIM WE PERMIT ourselves a degree of levity unequaled during the rest of the year. Yet even our drunkenness has (or at least should have) nothing to do with the light-headedness of the normal drunk. "Wine enters and secrets go out," say our Sages. Both the Hebrew for wine (yai'in) and secret (sod) have the numerical value of seventy, equal to the seventy faces of the Torah.


Externally, the laughter of the day appears to be the same as that of the scoffer. But it is, in truth, the opposite. Our scoffing is directed at the scoffers, at all those who view life as merely marking time and stimulating the nerve endings at Esau/Amalek/Haman. The scoffer trivializes life and denies it meaning. By turning our laughter on the scoffers, we thereby affirm the importance of life.


The scoffer can never redeem himself because he is immune to reproof. Effective reproof depends on an appeal to some ultimate values. But that is precisely what the scoffer denies. Thus Amalek has no possibility of salvation at the end of days. Destruction is his fate, just as it was Haman's.


At that final Revelation of the meaning of all human history, when all the Amaleks and Hamans are destroyed forever, then we will finally give vent to the laughter foreshadowed in our laughter on Purim.

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JWR contributor Jonathan Rosenblum is Israeli director of Am Echad. To comment, please click here.



© 2005, Jonathan Rosenblum