Rabbi Harold Kushner was once asked if the Psalms make a spiritual impact on people. His answer, “Only if they listen.”
The cynic takes nothing seriously, finds nothing meaningful or sacred. The tribe of Amalek had a single motivation when they aimlessly attacked the Jewish people; to weaken our faith. The Rabbis point out that the numerical value of Amalek is the same as safek, meaning doubt. Rabbi Tazdok HaCohen of Lublin wrote that Amalek was not only a tribe, but it is a quality that may manifest itself in all human beings; mainly, the cynic. A quick perusal of headlines permits this attitude-scandals, violence, and poverty abound. In the month of Elul, we attempt to remove the Amalek within us. We make an effort to change from cyncism to healthy skepticism. We identify the pitfalls before us, while considering the options ahead.
Our Torah teaches us that when building a piece of property, we must erect a fence on the rooftop, lest one falls off. The Talmud instructs, Lo Somchin al hanes, we must not rely on a miracle. God’s world runs by the laws of nature, but we are given this mitzvah so that we do not rely purely on these laws. Rather, we are partners in creating the miracles that we continue to see, only when we open our eyes. As we enter the High Holy Day season in a matter of days, may we listen to the cries of hope around us, eliminating Amalek, and replacing it with the spiritual hope of Jerusalem.