This being the Shabbat before Purim, the weekly Parshah Vayikra is supplemented with the Zachor reading (Deuteronomy 25:17-19) in which we are commanded to remember the evil of Amalek and to eradicate it from the face of the earth.
Who is Amalek? What makes its evil so vile? And how will memory serve as our best weapon?
During the great exodus from Egypt, after the divided waters fell and before the Jews received the Torah- they were attacked by Esau’s grandson Amalek. All other nations backed off, hearing if not seeing the miracles that G-d performed for the children of Jacob. But there were a people who defied logic, came without reason and fought with the fetus of a Jewish nation. Although Amalek was unsuccessful in their campaign, they created a bow that spits irrationalities and aims for the destruction of truth.
The house of Jacob is a day to the night of the house of Esau. Where we seek understanding, he raises intolerance. Purpose is our breath, chaos is his blood. To the Jew, every falling leaf has a purpose to it’s time. To the Amaleky, it’s all happenstance, random and thus morality is an option. Amalek represents the lowest form of iniquity. Lacking any heart, its vice is to undo you. So who are you and who is he? You are trying to make things work. You are curious and you are energetic, you are focused and you are light.
“The mind shall rule over the heart” this theme is huge in the character of a Jew and in her responsibility to world. Our intellect is to decide, and emotion should enjoy the ride. Not an easy fete. {We are not Angels and therefore we do have temptation. However we can go above (rule) our inclinations, Angels can not.} Making the task at hand (fixing/perfecting world) more grueling is Amalek- unabashed negligence. In the stale air around us that stinks, it says “I don’t care”. It threatens us to be placid and live only to receive. It beckons us to give up and indulge in ourselves. The voice of reason is mute and decadence is its mark.
Memory will serve you well in beating this common enemy and help you deal with the apathy, the cynicism, and the senseless doubt within. The memory of Faith. What recollection do you have of G-d? Exactly- faith was not acquired it need only be revealed. Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi discusses a faith in G-d that is integral to the Jewish soul, for it is woven into the very fabric of the soul’s essence. Faith transcends reason. Through faith one relates to the infinite truth of G-d in its totality, unlike the perception achieved by reason, which is defined and limited by the finite nature of the human mind.
To quote From The Possible Man by Meir Michel Abehsera: “At the core, we Jews are revolutionaries. We stand up to rebel against injustice and stagnation of thought. Our insurrectionary character has never let us fall into complacent forgetfulness… with that spirit that we cannot tolerate the seemingly wise passivity and placidity of the compromiser… You must not spare the reproof. You must revolt to remember. You can show kindness without falling into easy acceptance of people’s cowardice. Accept them as they are, but at the same time prepare your rebellion. Do not fight the person. Confront the forgetfulness that is within them.”
Remembering who you are unearths strengths you didn’t know you had. Your faith will affect the people around you and make you a better lover. You are righteous and you are tempted. Brothers and sisters- may we all have the stability and stamina to recognize who we are. And in good health our minds will be one with our hearts.