Every year, as we approach the Yom Tov of Purim, we read Parashat Zachor. Parashat Zachor, which according to many is a Biblical obligation (see Tosafot Megillah 17B s.v. Kol and Orach Chaim 685:7), is read to fulfill the mandate of “Zachor Eit Asher Asah Lecha Amaleik BaDerech BeTzeitecha MiMitzrayim Asher Korcha VaDerech” “Remember what Amaleik did to you, on the way, when you were leaving Egypt, that he happened upon you” (Devarim 25:17).
Rav Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev writes that the obligation to destroy Amaleik is not fought only on battlefields or limited to annihilating Amaleik’s physical offspring; rather, every Jew must eradicate his internal “Amaleik,” a metaphysical element that is part of our spiritual makeup, along with its destructive Hashkafah. Therefore, Parashat Zachor is our call to battle to rid ourselves of the Amaleik within us. What is this “Amaleik” that is within us? What must we destroy? What is this spiritual Hashkafic Amaleik?
Undoubtedly, Amaleik represents many damaging Hashkafot in the world. However, there is a beautiful insight offered by the Kozhnister Maggid, in his work Avodat Yisrael, which sheds light on one of the Hashkafot of Amaleik.
On the aforementioned Pasuk describing Amaleik, the Dubno Maggid writes that the word “Kor” means cold. “Asher Korcha VaDerech” can be understood to mean that they made you cold while on Derech Hashem. Amaleik tried to cool down our passion in our Avodat Hashem. The Yeitzer Hara often tries to calm our passion in our Avodat Hashem. He attempts to cool us down when we are fired up in our spiritual endeavors. He tries to make us complacent and thereby not strive to reach greater heights in our spiritual development.
Rav Yechezkel Levenstein, the famed Mashgiach of the Mirrer and Ponevezh Yeshivot, writes that his teacher reported that Rav Yisrael Salanter was fond of saying that the number one prerequisite for learning Mussar is the ability to have feeling. A person must have “Hergesh,” passion, because “without Hergesh one is not alive, and is actually considered to be dead. Living is not determined by the mere act of breathing. To live is much more than that. It means that one is excited, energetic, and lives life with a ‘bren.’ (passion)”
Rav Shalom Schwadron points out that when a doctor arrives to visit a patient who is critically ill, he will often check the ill patient’s body temperature. If there is some body warmth, the doctor knows that the individual is still alive, and can hope and pray for a recovery. However, if the body is cold, the doctor knows that the patient is unfortunately no longer alive.
Amaleik attempted to cool down Bnei Yisrael’s passion and fire. According to the Kedushat Levi, this is a battle that we are still fighting to this day. It is therefore incumbent upon us all to try and eradicate the coldness that lies within to be alive in the fullest sense of the word, and thereby fulfill the command of “Remember Amaleik” to that same degree.