Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s senior advisers had a unique Shabbat last week during their last in Canada’s capital, Ottawa, where Netanyahu met with Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Arutz Sheva's Hezki Ezra, who covered Netanyahu's visit to North America, reported all the details.
The advisers, including National Security Adviser Major General (res.) Yaakov Amidror, bureau chief Gil Sheffer, spokesman Mark Regev and Cabinet Secretary Zvi Hauser, arrived at their hotel in Ottawa on Friday and realized that Shabbat was “Shabbat Zachor.”
Shabbat Zachor is the Sabbath which falls before the holiday of Purim. On this Shabbat, the Jewish people are commanded to turn to the book of Deuteronomy (25: 17-19) for the last part of the Torah reading, called Parshat Zachor, the Portion of Remembrance, although the rest of the Shabbat Torah portion is from the book of Exodus.
Parshat Zachor commands the Jews to “Remember what Amalek did to you…and when you reach the land I have promised you, erase the memory of Amalek from under the heavens”, this referring to an unprovoked attack by the Amalekites on the Israelites after the Exodus from Egypt, in which they first attacked the old and weak who were at the end of the procession of liberated slaves.
The wicked Haman, who sought to destroy the Jewish people throughout the Persian Empire, as told in the Book of Esther which is read on Purim, was an Amalekite.
It is incumbent on every Jew to hear these verses on Shabbat Zachor. For the reading, the congregation rises, in respect for this being a direct commandment in the Torah, and concentrates on hearing every word. Many synagogues in Israel repeat the reading several times, using the varying melody and pronunciation of those present, whether Ashkenazi, Sephardi, Yemenite, Dutch - or even American-accented Hebrew, to be sure that every word is understood. (For an explanation of the commandment, click here).
The PM's advisers, cognizant of this commandment, quickly located and contacted Chabad representatives in Ottawa, who provided them with kosher food, a Torah scroll and ten men to make up a minyan (prayer quorum) as they were too far from a synagogue to walk to services.
On Shabbat morning, the advisers took part in prayer services. General Amidror, an observant Jew, was invited to read the Haftarah, the reading from Prophets which follows the Torah portion.. On Shabbat Zachor it is the account of King Saul’s war against Amalek, as told in the Book of I Samuel.
Amidror told the worshippers that it had been 15 years since he was last honored by being invited to read the Haftarah at his neighborhood synagogue.