Rosh Chodesh Adar II, 5738 (1978)
As you surely know, the special additional Torah portion, Parshat Zachor, which is read on the Shabbat before Purim, contains the commandments to remember what Amalek, the arch enemy of our Jewish people, did to our people when they were on their way to receive the Torah at Sinai.
Amalek's unprovoked and stealthy attack was calculated to shake their belief in G-d and dampen their enthusiasm for His Torah and mitzvot.
Haman, a direct descendant of Amalek, was driven by hatred of the Jews, because "their laws were different from those of any other people," as the Megilla states. Likewise did all subsequent Amalekites and Hamans of all ages hate the Jews.
But "Amalek" - in a wider sense - represents all obstacles and hindrances which a Jew encounters on his, or her, way to receive and observe the Torah and mitzvot with enthusiasm and joy in the everyday life.
And so Parshat Zachor comes to remind us, and never forget, that "Amalekites" exist in every generation and in every day and age, and that we must not allow ourselves to be deterred or discouraged by any Amalekite in any shape or form.
If the question be asked, "Why has G-d done thus?" Why should a Jew be confronted with such trials and difficulties? The answer is, that every Jew has been given the necessary powers to overcome all such "Amalekites," and he is expected to use them, in order to demonstrate to himself and others that nothing will deter him, nor dampen his fervor, in the observance of the Torah and mitzvot in accordance with G-d's Will.
And once he recognizes that whatever difficulty he encounters is really a test of his faith in G-d, and resolves firmly to meet the challenge, he will soon see that no "Amalek" of any kind is a match for the Divine powers of the Jewish soul.
Indeed, far from being insurmountable obstructions, they turn out to be helpers and catalysts for ever greater achievements, having been instrumental in mobilizing those inner powers which would have otherwise remained dormant.
This is also forcefully brought out in the Megilla, in the example of Mordechai the Jew, who "would not bend his knee nor bow down" before Haman.
As a result of this indomitable stance, not only was Haman's power totally broken, but many enemies became friends, as the Megilla tells us that "many of the peoples of the land were becoming 'Jewish,' for the fear of Mordechai fell upon them!"
May G-d grant that each and all of you should go from strength to strength in emulating Mordechai the Jew, advancing in all matters of Judaism, Torah and mitzvot, with joy and gladness of heart, and may you all be blessed with a full measure of "light, joy, gladness, and honor," both in the plain sense as well as in the inner meaning of these terms in accordance with the interpretation of our Sages - "Light - this is the Torah... Honor - this is tefillin" - since the Torah and mitzvot, though a "must" for their own sake, are the channels and vessels to receive and enjoy G-d's blessings in all needs, materially and spiritually.
Wishing each and all of you a happy Purim, and may its inspiration be with you every day throughout the year.