Ki Teitzei

do not forget reminder

Remember, blot out
Memory of Amalek

This week’s portion concludes with a reminder of what Amalek did to the people during the desert wandering, and seemingly contradictory commandments to both “remember what Amalek did” and to “blot out the memory of Amalek”.

Deuteronomy 25:17-19
Remember what Amalek did to you on your journey, after you left Egypt – how, undeterred by fear of God, he surprised you on the march, when you were famished and weary, and cut down all the stragglers in your rear. Therefore, when Adonai your God grants you safety from all your enemies around you, in the land that Adonai your God is giving you as a hereditary portion, you shall blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven. Do not forget!

The idea that these commandments might be called “oxymoronic” comes from Rabbi Audrey R. Korotkin’s essay in this week’s Ten Minutes Of Torah. Her words help us to make sense of this contradiction and turn a Torah oxymoron into a “comprehensive plan of action” when facing battles in our lives.

In his new prayer for this parashah, Amalek Within, poet and liturgist Alden Solovy uses these conflicting commandments to reflect on how we can prevent our inner Amalek (our “evil inclination”) from affecting how we treat others.

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