This obstinate diaspora that we’re still suffering from began more than 2000 years ago when Rome destroyed our Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Although the Zohar considers Rome, Edom, Esau, Amalek, Satan and the Angel of Death to be synonymous, they can be distinguished as different features of the same negative energy.
As Hassidic literature explains, in these last days before Moshiach arrives, we’re bothered primarily by the spiritual energy of Amalek. That’s why Purim, the day where we defeat Amalek, is the happiest day of the year and the only festival that won’t be canceled in the days of Moshiach.
Reb Nosson writes (‘הל’ ברכת הריח ד) that what makes Amalek such a tricky opponent is that we don’t even realize that we’re capable of fighting the battle. From the onset we believe it’s a lost cause to even try. In the Purim story the king’s signet ring was given over to Haman and the edict was delivered to wipe out the Jewish people. That means there was no chance of surviving. We were doomed! But of course the prayers of the Tzaddikim, Mordechai and Esther created new realities. This is the capacity of Amalek’s influence. We’re led to believe that there’s no hope of change.
How does this translate into today’s struggles?
I know many readers will disagree, but I’m not alone in believing that the addict’s mentality reinforces him to believe that he’s powerless. I don’t question that the compulsive behavior of the addict is a powerful dependence and freeing oneself from addiction takes iron-will, but it’s done all the time. It can be done! Addicts are not forever powerless. Amalek sells us that there’s no hope! The recovering addict believes that he has a disease and can always slip back into feeding his addiction. There’s no disease. He’s well conditioned to follow his obsessive desires and if he let’s his guard down, as he’s done so many times, he will be swallowed up again. That’s not a disease, it’s just reality. But he has hope!
I think homosexuals and transgender people are also victims of Amalek’s spell, believing wholeheartedly that they can’t change.
Reb Nosson writes here that “every Jew is a master of strength. But unfortunately not everyone merits to know their own strength”. If the Torah demands something of us, we can do it. Everyone of us can do it without exception. We don’t know our capabilities. I’m not just referring to beating drugs, illicit sex and alcohol but also our smaller challenges such as waking up early, controlling our temper and being patient.
Those two high school students in the 1930s who created Superman were onto something. Clark Kent is a nerd. He has an introverted personality with conservative mannerisms and a slight slouch. But underneath that disguise he’s Superman, possessing extraordinary powers. But we aren’t fiction. This is real! On Purim we wear costumes to symbolize how Amalek blankets us with layer upon layer of camouflage. The disguise is so convincing. But it’s just a smokescreen. Hiding under all that cover-up is the real us, a powerful Godly being with unimaginable potential to be great!