Weekly D’var Torah

Friday, January 21, 2016/5775

וַיֹּאמֶר ה אֶל-מֹשֶׁה, כְּתֹב זֹאת זִכָּרוֹן בַּסֵּפֶר, וְשִׂים, בְּאָזְנֵי יְהוֹשֻׁעַ: כִּי-מָחֹה אֶמְחֶה אֶת-זֵכֶר עֲמָלֵק, מִתַּחַת הַשָּׁמָיִם.

“God told Moses: write a memorial in a book and tell it in Joshua’s ears, because I (God) will most certainly erase the memory of Amalek from beneath the [living] sky.”

Forget everything you have learned about God and Amalek. Of course God promises to wage war with Amalek from generation to generation, yad al kes Yah, the divine will against the small-minded selfishness of parasite societies–raiders, thieves, conquistadors and imperialists–who prey on others to benefit from their work while producing nothing themselves. Of course they are wicked and deserve divine retribution for their war crimes, targeting the old and the sick, pregnant mothers and hobbled caregivers, the defenseless and the innocent. Let us leave God’s battle plan to God for the moment–heaven knows, its results may be neither comprehensive nor satisfactory. Listen to what God has promised. God has promised to erase the memory of Amalek from under the living sky.

I submit to you that this is not a good thing. This is not a promise God gives Moses, but a warning. In each successive generation, we will lose the living memory of how it felt to be persecuted, violated, excluded and expelled, attacked in our own homes and byways and denied safe haven elsewhere. If new Amaleks will arise and terrorize elsewhere, our forgetfulness will anesthetize us to the tragedy. Conveniently, we will not remember Amalek, much as the new Pharaoh did not know Joseph. After all, what have they done to us lately?

Write, Moses! Write while the memory is still fresh and the pain is still raw! Write how it feels to fear for your safety against the unremitting selfishness of others. Tell Joshua to remember his experience, to keep his memories alive when the ink has dried and the events of this book are comfortably in the past. Make sure the people Israel never stand idly by while others are slaughtered, preyed upon, and totted up as unfortunate but inactionable statistics. Make sure that “Never Again” does not just mean our tribes, but endures lev al kes Yah, long after God has erased the memory of Amalek from under the living sky. See your people in their haggard faces! Help them heal as you have healed! Build systems where Amalek cannot endure. Do not forget!

Ms. Shira Eliaser

"Rochelle Zell wasn’t just going to a part of me for four years but for the rest of my life."

Lauren S. '12

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