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Remember: There is evil in the world


* Translated by Janine Muller Sherr

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks z”l did not watch the video taken by Hamas of the kidnapping of five female soldiers from the Nahal Oz base that was released yesterday. He did not watch the UN standing for a moment of silence in memory of the president of Iran.  He also didn’t watch the international court in the Hague seeking the arrest of both Israeli elected officials and Sinwar for war crimes.

But here is what he did write many years ago about the obligation to recognize human evil and to look it directly in the face:

“We in the West have forgotten the concept of an enemy. We believe that for every problem there is a solution, for every conflict there is a resolution. In the real world, however, not everyone is a liberal democrat. An enemy is ‘someone willing to die in order to kill you.’

This explains the significance of an unusual command in the Torah: ‘Remember what the Amalekites did to you along the way when you came out of Egypt… You shall blot out the name of Amalek from under heaven. Do not forget!’

We thought that collective evil was as extinct as the Amalekites. Evil was then, not now. Then came two World Wars and the Holocaust, the worst crime of man against man. Today, the great danger is terror.

Evil never dies. We are commanded to remember, not for the sake of the past but for the sake of the future, and not for revenge but the opposite: a world free of revenge and other forms of violence.

A society of rational actors can sometimes believe that the world is full of rational actors with whom one can negotiate peace. It is not always the case!

Rarely was a biblical message so relevant to the future of the West and of freedom itself. Freedom depends on our ability to remember and, whenever necessary, confront the face of Amalek throughout history. Sometimes there may be no alternative but to fight evil and defeat it.”

Excerpt from my recently-published booklet, “To Heal the Heart, Faith and Comfort in a Time of Crisis,” which features short extracts from Rabbi Sacks’ writings along with real-life anecdotes - you can download it here:



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