Divrei Torah

The Divrei Torah in this section have been translated by Rav Reuven Ungar, Director of Alumni Affairs

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Don't Forget- Don't Forgive

By: Rav Yechezkel Yakovson
Rosh Yeshivat Sha'alvim

In Sefer HaMitzvot, the Rambam defines the mitzvah of remembering the actions of Amalek as follows: "We are commanded to remember what Amalek did to us, when he harmed us. We are to despise him at all times, and to verbally agitate people to fight him, to arouse the nation to hate him, until this mitzvah will not be forgotten; and that our hatred (towards Amalek) will not wane with the passage of time" (Mitzvah 189). Remembering a historical incident is insufficient; we are enjoined to maintain the tremendous hatred and desire for revenge at all times- as if we were presently engaged in warfare with Amalek.

There is a natural tendency not to dwell upon difficult and traumatic events of the past; to move on. This is true on personal, communal and national levels. In theory, this is a healthy trait. Forgetting upsetting events functions as a defense mechanism that enables one to rebuild and to progress in life, rather than wallowing in sorrow and misery.

This applies exclusively when the difficult events and situations remain in the past. If they may return they should be remembered. Those who suffered should take a close reckoning of what went wrong, and how to deal with such a situation in the future.

The Torah informs us that the actions of Amalek are not relegated to archaic history. Throughout history there are nations who despise us; every generation and its' Amalek. Memory is a blessing; we must recognize the nefarious intentions of our enemies.

At times, it appears that the tendency to hastily forgive and forget is one of the greatest weaknesses of our leaders. The peace treaties with Arabs are predicated upon the fallacy that the disputes and warfare that we are engaged with them can be relegated to the past. This is a serious mistake; Amalek does not change. His hatred towards the Jewish People flows in his blood and is eternal. Were we to have exercised some healthy recollecting, many of the attacks that occurred in the wake of the Oslo Accords could have been avoided.

In our encounter with Amalek and his representatives, the Torah warns us to neither forgive nor forget. The key to redemption lies in memory.


Categorized under: 1: Chagim > Purim
Uploaded: 8/9/2005 2:15:14 PM