In case it wasn’t clear enough yet, this is how Amalek works:
The conquest of Amalek is death by circular firing squad – it gets us standing in a circle, gives us all the guns we could ever want, and then whispers in each of our ears that the one standing across from us is out to kill us.
Amalek works by convincing each of us that the others are Amalek, and so far it has been working.
I cannot begin to formulate a coherent response to the horrifying attack at Tree of Life – Or L’Simcha Congregation Saturday morning except to say this: This was not an anomaly. This was not the deranged act of an aberrant individual, nor was it the regrettable outcome of mental illness (haven’t the mentally ill and neurodivergent been blamed and scapegoated enough in this country?), nor was it a “false flag” operation staged by whatever group of human beings you happened to distrust already. It happened because the perpetrator of this horrific act of terrorism had three things: He had a gun, he had an agenda, and he had a community. In retrospect, it is difficult to say which of these things proved to be more deadly.
The Kabbalistic literature teaches that evil came into this world through a corruption of the aspect of Judgment. Strictly speaking, both Mercy and Judgment are necessary components of the divine configuration, but due to its connection with the negative aspects of reality – restriction, boundary, limit, punishment of transgression – judgment is more vulnerable to corruption.
As in the spiritual realm, so too in the political realm. It is all too easy for our capacity for judgment to fail us in two important respects: First, in our tendency to allow judgment to overrun its proper bounds and judge harshly those who do not deserve it, and secondly, in our failure to exercise proper judgment in distinguishing between truth and fiction. In judgment it is appropriate to exercise restraint, acting only on the testimony of two sworn witnesses of unimpeachable character, and punishing only in appropriate measure. In this world in which we find ourselves, it is all too common to find those who act out in extreme ways on the basis of no reliable testimony at all. In kabbalistic terms this may be likened to the corruption of the aspect of judgment.
The outcome of this corruption can be seen in the tendency toward division in our society. Even as the litany of violence and injustice continues to intensify, even as the maelstrom continues to pull more and more of our communities into its swirl, we remain locked behind walls of mutual distrust, somehow convinced that we are different, that our souls are not as their souls, their pain not as our pain. The force of our judgment is corrupted and misdirected toward those who are suffering just as we suffer, and thus the reign of Amalek grows ever stronger.
It is time to let go of the ideas that are destroying us and our country.
It is time to let go of the idea that any of God’s children are more beloved than all the others.
It is time to let go of the idea that your neighbors may secretly be monsters.
It is time to let go of the idea that a government that has persecuted one group of its citizens will not eventually come for them all.
It is time to let go of the idea that there is any acceptable and appropriate amount of meaningless suffering in this world.
It is time to erase the name of Amalek from this world, in our generation and for all time.