Parshat Tetzaveh/Shabbat Zakhor

FRIDAY, February 23th

This Shabbat in shul we will have the opportunity to fulfill the biblical commandment of remembering what Amalek did to us when we left Egypt, by reading the three verses from the book of Devarim (25:17-19) that contain this mitzvah.  The mitzvah to remember Amalek and to blot out the memory of Amalek is strange and seemingly contradictory.  How can we simultaneously remember what Amalek did and blot out their memory?  It is important to understand what exactly Amalek did that we have to remember.   Amalek, we read in these verses, attacked those who were weak and defenseless—those who were straggling behind.  When those who are weak and vulnerable are attacked, the easiest thing to do is to not remember.  To turn our attention elsewhere.  However, only by remembering that there are those in the world who would prey on the weak and defenseless, can we adequately take steps to protect them.  When we are successful in protecting the most vulnerable among us, so that no potential Amalek can take advantage and attack them, then we will have successfully blotted out the memory of Amalek.

As long as we keep turning our attention elsewhere, forgetting what Amalek is doing to the weak and vulnerable, then Amalek’s memory, paradoxically is alive and well.  When we “remember” what Amalek did, and act accordingly to protect the vulnerable, then Amalek’s memory will be blotted out.

Rabbi Garth Silberstein