Zachor by Rabbi Joel Grossman

(2003/5763)

In the Maftir of this week’s Parsha, the Torah presents the Mitzvah of remembering what Amalek did to us when we left Egypt and of wiping out any remnant of Amalek from this world.  Rav Moshe Feinstein, zt”l, asks, how can this Mitzvah still apply today if we do not know who is from Amalek anymore since the Navi tells us that during the time of Sancherev all the nations were mixed up and we no longer know who is actually from which nation?  Furthermore, he asks, today, even if we would know that this person is from Amalek, we are still powerless to do anything since there would be terrible repercussions to Klal Yisrael for killing people just because they were from Amalek, so how can we fulfill this Mitzvah?  He offers two different answers in two of his Sefarim.  In the Bastion of Faith, he answers that we must destroy what Amalek represents.  Amalek is evil.  It represents the Yetzer Hara on this world.  Rav Moshe writes that today we fulfill this Mitzvah by destroying our personal Yetzer Hara, the evil which is within each of us.  In Darash Moshe, he explains it a little differently by saying that Amalek reminds us about how evil a human being can become, that because of hate they can go 400 miles out of their way to intercept a nation who will definitely defeat them.  For this reason, in the Neilah prayer of Yom Kippur, we ask Hashem to spare us from the sin of stealing, since we are human and can slip up and are not immune from committing any type of sin.

During the month of Elul, as we conclude the year and prepare for the next year, may we take this message of Amalek to heart and realize that we must do Teshuvah, a whole-hearted repentance, on all of our sins, both Bein Adam Lamakom as well as Bein Adam Lachavero, and realize that we need constant work on our spiritual side so that we do not emulate the ways of Amalek.  The Yerushalmi in Masechet Berachot writes, “If we go away from Torah for one day, then it will go away from us for two days.”  Let us constantly be connected to Torah so that the Torah and ourselves are inseparable.  Through the Mitzvah of Talmud Torah and the act of perfecting our character, may Hashem end this year of so much death and sadness in Israel and anti-Semitism around the world and begin the new year of 5764 on the upside with a sweet year filled with good news for all, and let us celebrate the ushering in of Melech Hamashiach this year along with peace in Israel and an end to anti-Semitism.

Incentive by Jerry M. Karp

The Rambam’s Aseret Yemei Teshuva Roadmap by Rabbi Chaim Jachter