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Friends, there is something incredible in this week’s Torah portion of Noach. Prior to the flood, the Torah relates, “Now the earth was corrupt before God, and the earth became full of violence [Literally: Hamas]” (Genesis 6:11). We know what happens next; G-d sends a great flood and commands Noach and his family to enter the ark. The timeliness of this reading is incredible. As we deliberate how to proceed in our war with Hamas, the Torah tells us that when “Hamas” proliferates on the earth, it is time to wipe it clean; to wipe them out.

We can further make a connection to another section of the Torah. When the nation of Israel leaves Egypt, they are attacked from behind by the nation of Amalek. Amalek is described as the epitome of evil nations. They specifically went after the weak; the elderly, the women, and the children. Hamas has acted in that same fashion. We know that in the Purim saga which unfolded in Ancient Persia, the wicked Haman lead the attempted genocide. He was a descendant of Amalek. Modern day Persia is Iran. They are the biggest state sponsor of terrorism and the puppet-master behind the puppet that is Hamas. The Torah gives a clear command to eradicate Amalek, reiterating the above message.

What does the Torah advise those of us that aren’t on the battlefield? The instruction from the portion of Noach is to go into the “teivah.” “Teivah” literally means “ark” but the Baal Shem Tov said it could also be translated as “word.” The message for us is to find refuge in the words of our tradition, the words of Torah. Additionally, to wage war via our words, by praying for our soldiers’ success and sending words of support. Finally, there is the “narrative war.” Our enemies are mobilizing online and on social media to paint us as the aggressors and the evil nation in this war. We must engage with our words to dispel this notion, especially as those nations and peoples watch from the side and attempt to understand what is going on without much knowledge of the history. We must use our words to enlighten them and rally support.

Ultimately, we have an assurance from the prophets that our efforts in all of the above will yield fruit. The prophet Isaiah predicted, “Violence [Again, literally: Hamas] shall no longer be heard in your land, neither robbery nor destruction within your borders, and you shall call salvation your walls and your gates praise” (Isaiah 60:18). May we merit to see this prophecy speedily come to fruition, with the return of our captives alive and in good health, the complete healing of our wounded, and the eradication of evil once and for all.

Shabbat Shalom

R’ Liad Braude

Parshat nitzavim-vayelech