ôøùú æëåø-Remember

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.

17 thoughts on “ôøùú æëåø-Remember

  1. You’ve done it again.
    You have taken a label in the Parsha. This time “Amalek” and applied it to people you personally do not like.
    You wrote: “To the Jew, every falling leaf has a purpose to it’s time. To the Amaleky, (sic) it’s all happenstance, random and thus morality is an option.”
    You are thus labeling anyone who does not hold by teleological theologies as Amalek.
    I think you are being base and prejudiced by doing this.
    Your (ab)use of the Parsha for political and ideological mudslinging seems to be part of the way in which you read the Torah. In fact there was a discussion recently in the Daf Yomi about someone who studies Torah in order to promote politics or ideologies – rather than Lishma.
    Perhaps you should take heed…
    Shabbat Shalom and a Happy Adar.

  2. May I make a suggestion that you read the Talmud (since you seem to enjoy daf yomi) concerning Amalek. Amalek does not exist now as a person but as an idea. If G-d has commanded that we eradicate Amalek from amongst us, who am I to be better then G-d and accept the ways of Amalek?
    With respect Ilan- no political agenda has been set forth. I am afraid you misunderstand both the Talmud and the Parsha. Further study will show that a)Jews believe in Devine Providence b)Amalek approached the Jews in a “cooling off” way- Midrash explains this as the belief in no reason. You quoted my Description on those 2 facts.
    Study to understand and wisdom will follow, study to be wise you might never understand. Happiest of Adars and Shabbat’s to you.

  3. When the duplicate posts were deleted the other comment defending moses’s piece against ilAn’s arguments was deleted. I don’t remember what that poster said exactly, but it was along the lines of ilAn either being a jerk for having written something scathing (and misdirected) and then signing it like a nice guy with “Shabat Shalom and Happy Adar” or having been making a joke but the joke not being obvious? She also pointed out that moses didn’t seem to have articulated a political agenda. And she pointed out that there is such thing as evil in this world and that’s not a very controversial idea.
    I’m sure I butchered that, but I thought the post was thought-provoking and the defense valid.
    And with that, I really do hope everyone has a good Shabbos!

  4. Any time the task is to justify genocide, it is necessary for the manager of opinion to costume people in extraordinary qualities which, while they are present in some degree in humanity, now become the only characteristic identifying the other: and which correspond to virtues which now envelop us. They are irrational as animals, or inhumanly rational, whereas our rationality is just right; they are incapable of love, or incestuously drip with inappropriate appetites, whereas our love is just right. And above all else, it is completely unimaginable that the reason the Helvetians were attacked was because they were invading saomeone else’s land–er, did we say Helvetians? Of course we only meant the Germanii–er, the Akkadians–er, the Aryans–er, the Hebrews. The reason the Hebrews were attacked was because they were just (indeed, they were Justice) and their attackers were irrationality, injustice, craziness and violence itself.

  5. The main point was that it is very easy to start labelling those we do not like as Amalek.
    It appears to me that Moses was doing that.
    He was calling those who don’t believe in what Jews believe as Amalek.
    Judaism believes in Divine Providence. So?
    Does that mean if you do not believe in Divine Providence you are Amalek?
    Of course not!
    Moses is taking a very morally blurred position by erasing the distinction between those who do not believe in things he does, and those who are evil.
    Yes Evil exists.
    Yes we must constantly remember this.
    Yes it is a Mitzvah to remember this once a year, and we perform this mitzvah on the shabbat before Purim.
    But never must we call those who disagree with us “Amalek”; simply because they are our oponents in ideological, political, and yes, often even moral arenas.
    In fact this is akin to what is often happening to Israel in the new anti-semitism. It beomes a rather unconfortable “ad hominem” attack; which of course is very useful and effective but not at all moral.
    Moses does not like the fact that I said by doing this he is ab(using) the Torah in order to further his moral and political agendas. Nor does he like the fact that coincidently this has been under discussion in the Daf Yomi pages that are currently being read. And he does not like the fact that I called him on it.
    He quite clearly sees himself in a morally superior position from which he can climb on his soapbox and point his finger at those whose beliefs or actions are not “Jewish” and cry “Amalek”.
    Its not to dissimilar from crying “Wolf.”
    (And its precisely because real “wolves” do exist, that one must not cry “wolf” in order to exercise one’s vocal chords.)
    Over and over again in my wandering through universities, yeshivot, Jewish youth groups I have heard Palestinians called Amalek, Communists called Amalek, Atheists called Amalek etc…
    As an aside; for those who are learned which famous Rabbi pointed this out:
    Moab is descended for Amalek.
    Ruth is descended from Moab.
    David is descended for Ruth.
    The future messiah will be descended from David.
    And what was the conclusion about the command to kill all Amalek as a result?
    In conlusion, I recognise that Moses may not be overly self-conscious of the errors of his ways; and he may be spreading hate with the best of intentions.
    I think however that it should be noted that there is saying about what road is paved with “good intentions”; and where it leads.
    Shavua Tov.

  6. amalek is a facet of the human condition. it’s the apathy, laziness– the loss of reason and routine and order. it’s easy for any of us to fall into this chaos if we don’t work to avoid it. so we must remember how good it feels to be healthy, in control, organized, and engaged. remember how good you feel when you’ve done your laundry, paid your bills, cleaned your flat, and called your parents. let this recollection compel you to live an ordered, healthy life. but don’t hold it against someone else that he is amalek, because you yourself could easily be there. often all it takes is a trauma, which makes you forget how good it feels to live a conscious life. the potential to be overcome by apathy and hopelessness is in all of us. let us be conscious, educated and engaged– so that we are not overtaken with the doldrums.

  7. just to be extraordinarily rude: one reasonable defense we heard about the whole Mel Gibson’s Cashin’ In On the Christ thing regarding the fundamentally anti-Rabbinical aspect of the Gospels, in any portrayal, was that the “Jews” are “everybody,” that far from a clear racial/ethinic identification this was about metaphorical representation of universal human flaws we all must guard against…in other words, exactly what is being used upthread to salvage the ancient Amalek thing.
    (We didn’t buy it, it was coming from a crossworshipping radio host who later on juxtaposed conversion “or” Zionism for Jewish “firends” a little too closely, but it was more reasonable than arguing that religious faith moved Mel’s heart, etc)
    Patriarchal tribes moved around, conquered and took slaves, and fought blood-feuds with eachother. It is beyond all credulity, especially in light of this particular passage, that Hebrews were somehow immune to this. This can “mean” watch out for mental sloppiness or whatever, especially since there are no Amelekites at the UN (unless…the UN is made up of Amelekites!!!) but its roots are trather painfully obviously a very old tribal vendetta.

  8. ilan, your excitement should bring you much joy within and without.
    To end your comments with a secular (cheap) line really did you a disservice. Nevertheless I will attempt to respond to your claims against me as well as your claims against G-d/Torah.
    1)The commandment to remember that which Amalek did, is a daily commandment- NOT as you said only to be read the Shabbat before Purim (Rambam Sefer Ha’mitzot, Mitzvah #188,189
    2) About standing on a soap box: Why is that in order to raise ourselves we push others down, as opposed to standing on a box which does not put down the other? You have some pretty feisty words on me… The only hatred I was attempting to spread was hatred for the evil inclination (yetzer horah){the Amalek of today, as explained in my first response}. I do not attempt to put a value on yours (yetzer horah), please do not underestimate how huge mine is.
    3) Abuse is taking advantage of, using unfairly, manipulating– I mention the name and places of that which I quote. So far I have heard Daf Yomi mentioned without knowing which Daf or which Sage, and a quote from a nameless Rabbi. Who is abusing what/who?
    Here’s something a teacher told me when I studied (Australia) in one of those places that you “wondered” through: To quote, to pinpoint by memory where something is located- yeah, it’s good and makes you sound smart. But it is not the objective. The objective is to use the lines, aphorisms and all things remembered as a lesson. Not for the sake of your own wisdom, but for the sake of gleaning something and placing it in your life.

  9. on a more global note: it is superb that the parsha is being discussed by y’all, and that we are learning from eachother. it brings mobius and i humbled joy that it is so. hope everyone had an awesome shabbat and feels empowerd for the days ahead… leading up to the party at weeks end– happy week friends

  10. thank you siviyo for paraphrasing my response to ilan’s idiocy. to whoever edits this board, i guess you’ll have to erase this comment too, because i still think, after iLan’s rebuttal, that yes, he’s still utterly misled, and yes, still a poser. moses is saying exactly this: “Amalek is 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.” moses isn’t pointing the finger at anything other than the apathy that makes us live at less than 100% of our potential. he’s not pointing at Germans, Palestinians, Communists, or orthodox/conservative/r eform… he was writing a self-affirming, inspirational dvar Torah and you are TOTALLY reading all of your own shtuss into it, totally passing over any of the ACTUAL content and inserting YOUR OWN political frabbajabba… whatever, obviously it’s not even worth the energry for me to continue, ’cause jewschool (who i thought, up until tonight, was cool) probably won’t let this on their board! what’s up with that, jewschool?

  11. chazarmaveth,
    (1) Amalek were certainly never apathetic.
    (2) To say:
    If all Amalek do not believe in a reason
    for the universe; then all believe who believe
    in no reason for the universe are Amalek.
    Is the same as saying:
    if all dogs are animals, then all animals are dogs.
    (3) You sound very confused and maybe need to learn the basics of logical thought.
    Shavua Tov

  12. ilan- you can argue, well. thus i am sure you can also see the point. choose to post hoc ergo procter hoc, if you like. the ideas expressed by the author have ben explained. though one more point can be added in light of “logical thought”. Chassidut explains that Amalek is so illogical that one must beat it with something that defies logic- faith. Now I know this itself can open up another debate… I mention it rather to give you a blessing— may you use all our logic in a positive way, and be strong enough to accept that which defies your logic.

  13. ilAn I tink you are mistaken.
    (First of all Moab is NOT descended from Amalek. He is from Lot who like Abraham came from Seth son of noah as opposed to Amalek who came from Ham son of Noah.)
    Amalek’s sin was having no fear of G-d. We just got taken out of Egypt, terrible plagues came on the Eguptians, their army was drowned in the sea and all the nations at that time trembled. Then comes Amalek who said “G-d? peiople are afraid of of G-d? no way!” He attcked us when we were weary and tired; he attacked the weak and the straglers amongst us. Amalek in effect said that all that happened to Israel was not from G-d and there is nothing to fear he in effect said that it was all chance – no providence. That is Moses’ point.
    Here is the quote:
    “Remember what Amalek did unto thee by the way as ye came forth out of Egypt; 25,18 how he met thee by the way, and smote the hindmost of thee, all that were enfeebled in thy rear, when thou wast faint and weary; and he feared not God. 25,19 Therefore it shall be, when the LORD thy God hath given thee rest from all thine enemies round about, in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance to possess it, that thou shalt blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven; thou shalt not forget. ” — Deuteronomy 25,17

  14. Just to clarify a little biblical geneology here:
    Moab was Lot’s son (and grandson) and Avrohom Avinu’s great (and great-great) nephew. Avrohom Avinu came from the line of Shem ben Noah. Amalek (yimach shmo v’zichro) was the son (and grandson) of Elifaz, son of Esau, and his concubine (and also illigitimate daughter) Timna (for more incestuous details that would make Faulkner wet himself check Breishis 36:12 and Rashi), and was therefore the great (great) nephew of Yaakov Avinu, and great-great (great) grandson of Avrohom Avinu. That should make it all clear.
    Much love to Moses from Rabbi, Mrs., and Baby Thunderpants.

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