Purim: Amalek LCD
No, contemporary Amalek is not a terrorist with a dagger between his teeth or a suicide belt of explosives. He looks innocent, actually resembling a harmless geek...
by Rabbi Lazer Brody
Edward, a very techy 17-year old geek, was ridiculing his mother. "Ma, I can't believe that you're having trouble saving contacts in your new phone – kindergartners today know how to do that!"
"Young man," his mother replied, perturbed by her son's smugness, "I taught you how to say please and thank-you. I also taught you how to eat with a fork."
The above exchange seems meaningless, but is actually deeper than what we think. Here is a closer look:
Edward thinks that his mother is primitive. She's not so adept with the latest devices. By the time she learns a device, it becomes obsolete and something new replaces it.
Even though he's a nerd, Edward is one of the most sought-after kids in his high school because he's the super-geek "go-to" guy for anyone who has a problem with an IPhone, IPad or Tablet. Anyone with a question about the latest programs or about navigating the cyber-sphere turns to Edward.
If Mom is old-fashioned and antiquated, Dad is even worse. He goes to lessons every night to learn a book that some old men wrote 1700 years ago about what happens if a cow falls into a pit.
Mom and Dad are tolerable, somehow. Edward of course takes his bedroom, his clothes, and Mom's wonderful meals for granted. He has no patience at all though for Grandma and Grandpa, who are always telling those boring stories about their parents who came to America escaping the Holocaust. He hates to depart with his beloved 42" plasma screen even for a half hour when Mom and Dad force him to come to the dinner table during Grandma and Grandpa's weekly visit. Edward couldn't care less that his great-great grandfather was a descendent of Rabbi Akiva Eger and that his great-great grandmother was a great-granddaughter of the Chattam Sofer.
Mom isn't techy. She's about "eating with a fork”, saying "please and thank you", basic gratitude and acting like a human being. Dad also lacks tech savvy; when he's not working in his shoe store, he's either in shul, reading old books or walking with Mom. In short, Mom and Dad are about being human and acting human. These aren't lessons that Edward learns in his cyber sojourning, so they don’t interest him.
Edward is Jewish, but he wants a divorce from Torah, tradition, Shabbat and kashruth. He doesn't understand why Mom and Dad are so out of it and into outdated stuff.
Edward loves screens – he has screens of all sizes. A "scroll" to him is not an ancient book, but a trip up or down the screen. Books are old and obsolete. The fact is that his fourth-generation tablet, with its full-color screen, multimedia functionality and an Android-based operating system, can store 6,000 e-books easily. It's a portable public library. Carrying books is primitive...
What Edward doesn't understand is that although his tablet can store all those books, great-great-great grandfathers Rabbi Akiva Eger and Chattam Sofer had brains that housed just as many books, holy ones at that. They dedicated their lives to those holy books.
What's behind the glitter of the LCD and that 42" plasma screen that makes you feel like you're right there on the playing field? And why has no Gemara or holy book ever defeated them? The answer is simple. The screen is today's Amalek – far more subtle, powerful and lethal than ancient Amalek. Edward, as well as other children and adults like him, are powerless against the innocent looking Amalek. But, whereas tradition connects us in an unbreakable generation-to-generation chain back to Moses on Mount Sinai, Amalek LCD swiftly and surgically severs tradition.
Both tradition and Amalek have books. The difference is that Amalek's software manuals become obsolete within a few short months. Torah tradition never goes out of style. It keeps us, the Jewish People, alive.
There is only one way to fight Amalek LCD. Mom and Dad, although they are nice people who eat kosher and observe the Sabbath, never gave Edward the weapon he needed to protect himself against Amalek. That weapon is emuna. Without it, a person doesn't understand why he or she needs Torah and mitzvoth in the 21st Century.
With emuna, we not only protect our children and ourselves, but we also wipe out the memory of Amalek. Although a Gemara can't defeat a screen, emuna can. Emuna enables a man to pick up a Gemara and a woman to dress modestly. Emuna is the end of Amalek. Happy Purim!
Rabbi Lazer Brody was born in Washington, D.C. in 1949. After receiving his bachelor's degree in agriculture from the University of Maryland in 1970, he moved to Israel and joined the Israel Defense Forces regular army, and served in one of the elite special-forces units. He is a decorated combat veteran of two wars and numerous of counter-insurgence and anti-terrorist missions on both sides of Israel's borders.
Rabbi Brody is the English-language editor of Breslev Israel's highly popular English-language website at www.breslev.co.il, and the founder and director of Emuna Outreach. Between Breslov Israel and Emuna Outreach, he devotes his time to spreading emuna and particularly the teachings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslev around the globe.
"Lazer Beams," Rabbi Brody's award-winning daily web journal, has been instrumental in helping tens of thousands of people around the globe find joy and fulfillment in their lives.