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Amelekites, Nazis and the Enemies of the Jews

My friend, Dawith, has been asking me to write up this story for years. I first heard it more than twenty years ago from some guys who were teaching in the Discovery seminars of Aish haTorah. I've heard a couple of additions to it since, and of course I have my own embellishments.

Our story stems from the fact that in Megillat Esther, towards the end the account, Jews all around the Persian Empire are given a day to fight their enemies with impunity. This day was the 13th Adar, the date selected by the drawing of lots [Purim in Hebrew] by that bad, bad man, Haman. Included in the Jewish victories in this "one day war" was the hanging of the ten sons of Haman, the arch enemy, in Shushan, the seat of the Persian monarchy. Haman had planned for the genocide of the Jewish nation. This is now called ethnic cleansing, the politically correct term for wiping every Jew off the face of the earth because you don't like the shape of their noses or are jealous of their ability to make lots of money.

The Jews are having so much fun ridding the world of these creeps, that they send (their own) Queen Esther to ask the King to permit them to fight for another day -- just in the capital city of Shushan -- and also, now get this, could they please hang the ten sons of Haman all over again. But Esther, they are dead already; what are you going to achieve by hanging them again? But, no, the King agrees and off go the Jews of Shushan and do it all again, though they knock off fewer than they had on the previous day -- and the ten badies are strung up again.

Our classic commentators have some trouble explaining what is going on here, though there are clues in the passage. Throughout the Torah and the rest of the Tanach, the Old Testament, some letters are occasionally written bigger than the surrounding text (ot rabati), and sometimes smaller (ot zeira). When writing a Torah, the scribe's basic rule (which has its parallels in modern typesetting) is that the width of a column is the breadth of sixty yod letters, yod being the narrowest letter of the alphabet (much like a printers' el). The larger the text point size, the wider the column.

In the Book of Esther, where the names of these sons are written, the extraordinarily sized letters are tav, shin and zayin which are small and vav which is enormous. Some commentators relate the long thin vav to a pictorial (hieroglyphic?) representation of the gallows on which the ten men were hung, tall enough to hang one under the other.

A second clue is the fact that God's name is not mentioned in the whole scroll -- not even once. But there are hints to the divine. The commentators tell us that when our text says "King Ahasuerus" (Achashverosh) it refers the flesh and blood king of Persia and Media. However, if it says just "the King", it [ALSO] means haShem, God, the Holy One Blessed Be He. The Queen's strange request is (also) directed to the Lord. She is asking that at some point in the future (the Hebrew word machar can mean tomorrow or some unspecified time hereafter) the Jews be allowed to hang ten sons on Haman, not necessarily these same ten.

So to paraphrase our text, the Queen is asking God at some date in the future to be allowed to hang ten Antisemites of Amelekite descendancy. When? Let's play with the numbers -- in Hebrew each letter has a numeric value. The three small letters add up to 707. The big letter is 6 -- let's say is a big 6 -- perhaps 6,000?!

A bit more background: in October, 1898, the German Kaiser, Wilhelm II (who incidentally was the first grandchild of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom -- royalty is a small world) visited the Holy Land. Because he refused to get off his horse to enter the [old] city, they knocked out a big piece of the ancient walls near the Jaffa Gate. The gates to our city were built in an 'L' shape, as part of the city's defence mechanism. This makes it impossible to attack the city on horseback. An attacker must alight and lead his horse into the city on foot, making him a sitting duck to the defenders. (Apropos, this "charmer" king, who only died in 1941, hoped that the successes of the German Nazi Party would stimulate interest in the revival of the monarchy. Dummy -- Hitler believed that the Kaiser had contributed to Germany's greatest defeat.)

Back to our story in Jerusalem: according to Jewish tradition, one recites a benediction on seeing a non-Jewish monarch -- "blessed is he who gives some of his honour to flesh & blood". The Jews of Yerushalayim saw a rare opportunity to make this blessing on seeing the German king. However the rabbi of Jerusalem, I believe it was Rabbi Shmuel Salant, told them that he had a tradition from the GR"A, the Vilna Gaon, that the Germans were the descendants of Amelek, and thus the blessing and sunsequent invocation of God's name was inappropriate.

A braita (a rabbinic statement -- I can't remember where -- someone please let me know -- citation please) teaches that if ever the tribes of Germama [Germany] were to unite and then get together with Rome [Italy], they have the potential to destroy the whole world. Historically, Germany was the last nation in Europe to conjoin under a unified flag and a single leadership. And not long afterwards (two world wars) became allies with Italy and very nearly did destroy the world. This Germama refers to the descendants of Amalek and Italy to those of Esau, Edom, brother of Jacob.

At the end of World War II, the victors, as is the way of the world, and in this case very rightly so, tried the leaders of Nazi Germany in Nuremberg for war crimes. Twelve men (that's a funny word for them -- 12 monsters) were sentenced to death. Martin Borman, successor to Hess (who got smart and flew himself off to Scotland in 1941 in an attempt to broker peace with Great Britain) as Nazi Party Secretary, was found guilty in absentia. Hermann Göring escaped the gallows, managing to kill himself with a potassium cyanide capsule the night before his execution (no-one knows how he got and hid it -- though in 2005, a former U.S. Army Private, Herbert Lee Stivers, who was a guard at the trials, claimed to have given Goering "medicine" hidden inside a gift fountain pen. He was given the pen by a German woman he had met and with whom he was flirting. He claims he didn't know what it was -- maybe).

Yes, that left ten.

But first back to Goering who died at his own hand: a Midrash, homiletic teaching, informs us that Haman had, in one version, eleven, not ten, sons, and in an alternate reading, ten sons and one daughter. This last offspring made a terrible -- fatal -- mistake. It was during the famous early morning ride through the streets of Shushan. At the behest of the King, the wicked Haman lead the righteous Mordechai, dressed in the King's fineries, on the back of the King's horse. The leading person was shouting, "This is what the King does to his good mates". The offspring was certain father was on the horse and Mordechai was in the lead. So being well educated by Haman, he/she dropped the contents of a chamber pot (no plumbing yet for the Persians and the Medes) onto the lead man as they passed under a first floor window. He/she, sheman, hewoman, realising his/her error, jumped out of the window, terminating himself/herself/itself.

The Nazis "hated" homosexuals and other perversions. Well publicly perhaps. There is a book called The Pink Swastika -- I don't know how accurate it is. It seems Goering was some sort of transvestite -- supposedly he wore ladies' underwear under his Luftwaffe uniform.

Now, in both stories, we have the number eleven, with a he-she dying by its own hand instead of at the end of a noose.

According to Jewish tradition, the last day of judgement, following Rosh haShana (New Year) to Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) is Hoshana Raba, the seventh day of Sukkot (the Feast of Tabernacles). This is the "last" chance for the current year, the last time the heavenly tribunal sits in judgement for all mankind.

The execution of the ten Nazis, offspring of the evil Haman, descendent of Agag, king of the Amelekites in the time of King Saul and the prophet Shmuel, finally met their judgement day, on 16th October, 1946. What date was that in the Jewish calendar -- it was Hoshana Raba in the 707th year of the 6th millennium!

And the last of them to the gallows was the German propaganda chief, Julius Streicher. At the bottom of the scaffold he cried out "Heil Hitler!" When he mounted the platform, he delivered his last sneering reference to the Jewish scripture, snapping "This is a Purim-Fest 1946!" [purim schpeil was his word.] His final declaration before the hood went over his head was, "The Bolsheviks will hang you one day!"

And the Queen's request was fulfilled once again by the King [of Kings].

Please feel free to and don't forget to stop by my site to look at my latest (and classic) photographs.


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