Thursday, March 17, 2016


Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Vayikra/Zachor
8 Adar II 5776/ March 18, 2016

I’m really happy that I got the flu shot this year. This way when I got the flu two weeks ago and people accusingly asked me if I got the flu shot, I was able to reply “As a matter of a fact, I did. And my daughter who had the flu after me, got it too.”
My doctor is pretty emphatic that the flu shot is extremely beneficial and worthwhile. He told me that the pharmaceutical companies are gaining a tremendous amount from generating mini-hysteria about getting the flu shot. Their advertisement campaigns have indeed been successful and many Americans have indeed gotten the flu shot making it very beneficial for the pharmaceutical companies. He is also convinced that the whole thing is a hoax and doesn’t really accomplish anything, me being another case in point. On the flip side, the ‘flutologists’ (I might have made that up) will counter that the flu shot works, it’s just that I caught a different strain. There’s no doubt about that – getting the flu was a major strain. Next year I’ll have to remember to only allow myself to become susceptible to the strain that I was injected with (if I allow myself to be swayed by flu shot propaganda next year). 
The one thing I can say about the flu is that it is very loving and friendly. I don’t know anyone/anything else that can tolerate being around me without a break for over two weeks.
The flu of course brings with it a cocktail of symptoms – headache, achiness, fatigue, fever, and, of course, the chills.  I had that unenviable experience of waking up in the middle of the night with my teeth chattering, despite wearing a sweat shirt, socks, and an extra blanket. Until the Advil I took kicked in there was almost nothing I could do to warm myself.
This was in contrast to the deep freeze that overtook the tri-state area the week before. Thankfully it’s been so warm lately that we have almost forgotten about the week of subzero temperatures and wind gusts of a month ago. But during that arctic blast, although it was painfully cold, wearing layers of clothing helped mitigate the cold, at least for the body parts that were covered. But when the chill is within there’s hardly anything to do except to fight it off with medicine.
The Jewish People have no shortage of enemies who have caused us incredible pain throughout the millennia. Above them all, and in a class of their own, is our nemesis, Amalek. The greatest difference between Amalek and all of our other enemies is that although our enemies attack us and threaten us in all sorts of ways, Amalek is not content to attack us from without. Theirs is a full fledged assault on our very identity as believers and as G-d’s ambassadors to the world, as it were. Amalek penetrates our conscience, scoffing our mission, mocking our ability to be truly great, and filling us with self-doubt. That danger is internal and all of the outside layers we don to protect ourselves are insufficient. To fight that battle we have to ward off the infection within, by fortifying ourselves spiritually with belief in ourselves and our cause. 
The driving force of Amalek lurks everywhere. It’s not merely the frightening danger of those who seek to accomplish what Haman wanted – ISIS, Iran, Hamas, etc. Far more pernicious are the bloggers and naysayers whose venomous opinions are enough to make an Amaleki out of any believing Jew.
When it comes to fighting Amalek - a battle we will never fully win until the Messianic era dawns - vaccines are insufficient. We need a healthy dosage of spiritual vitamins. Those vitamins come in the form of recognizing the danger and the (only) remedy, building our ranks with unity, including caring for the underprivileged, and rejoicing together simply because we are members of this elite unit. These steps are also known as reading the Megillah, sending Shalach Manos, Matanos Laevyonim, and enjoying Seudas Purim.
The Torah states that Amalek “cooled you off on the way” (asher karcha baderech). We respond with the intense celebration of Purim to warm our bodies, hearts, and souls. And that’s an even better remedy than your Bubby’s chicken soup for Amalek’s uncommon cold.    

Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos
Freilichen Purim to all of Klal Yisroel,

            R’ Dani and Chani Staum