The Literary Structure of Zechirat Amaleik by Azi Fine


When looking at the makeup of Parashat Zechirat Amaleik (Devarim: 25:17-19), it is clear that it is divided into two sections. The first contains the first two Pesukim (25:17-18), and the second includes the third Pasuk (25:19). The first section deals with the actions of Amaleik when we were leaving Egypt and how we must remember these actions, while the second discusses the Mitzvah to avenge their actions. The Torah connects these two statements by using the word, “VeHayah,” “And it shall be.” Another interesting point in the structure of these Pesukim is their repetition of the words in the beginning and conclusion. In the beginning, it states, “Zachor,” “Remember,” while in the end it says, “Lo Tishcach,” “Do not forget,” in both cases dictating remembrance of what Amaleik did to us. We might have thought that each of the phrases was discussing merely the words immediately near it – what Amaleik did and to erase its memory, respectively – however, the Sifri explains that both are more universal commandments: To “Remember” means to verbally remember and, “Do not forget” means to not forget in one’s heart. A third interesting observation in this section is the contrast between the description of the time that Amalek attacked us and that of the time when we will avenge their deed. The setting that is given for Amaleik’s attack is said to be, “BaDerech BeTzeitechem MiMitzrayim” “on our way from Egypt” (25:17). In contrast, the vengeance is said to take place, “BaAretz Asher Hashem Elokecha Notein LeCha Nachalah LeRishtah,” "In the land that Hashem, your God, gives you as an inheritance, to possess it” (25:19). When we look at these descriptions together, we see the flow of events: Amaleik attacked us as we were on the road; however, once we settle in Eretz Yisrael, the time for retribution will come. This also sheds light on the type of people that Amaleik were. They would attack us only when we were weak, on our road away from slavery. We, however, would persevere, and at full strength, in the land of our forefathers, we would look to exact revenge.

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