Friday, March 18, 2016

Thoughts on Shabbat Zachor

There are many thoughts spinning in my head about this week’s Torah readings: Parashat Vayikra (Leviticus 1:1-5:26), Shabbat Zachor (Deuteronomy 25:17-19, cf. Exodus 17:-19): Ritual and order in the midst of chaos, encountering the divine amidst the blood of sacrificial slaughter; human cruelty, our response to it and memory.  
And not nearly enough time to sort them all out in writing, so just one thought:

וַיֹּאמֶר כִּי יָד עַל כֵּס יָהּ, מִלְחָמָה לה' בַּעֲמָלֵק מִדֹּר דֹּר  (שמות יז:טז)" --ובמדרש כתוב: אין שמו שלם ואין כסאו שלם עד שימחה שמו של עמלק כולו (רש"י ע"פ מדרש תנחומא תצא יא).  י
"With a hand on God’s throne [both words in Hebrew are written in a shortened form] God will war against Amalek from generation to generation.” A midrash says “neither the Name [of God] nor the throne [of God] will be whole until Amalek is erased...” (Tanhuma, Ki Teitzei, 10).

Amalek represents the depth of human cruelty and unjustified violence. In Exodus, God declares war on Amalek; in Deuteronomy, responsibility is handed over to Israel but no longer are the people to be killed but rather the memory blotted out. We are to create a world in which cruelty and wanton violence is no longer even a memory. Then God’s Name and throne (the world? cf. Isaiah 66:1) will be whole. 
Our charge is to create a world in which Amalek cannot live.
Some of my inspiration and other recommend reading and listening: