Timche (MBD)

March 3, 2023

Yiddishkeit has never taken an absolutist attitude towards any emotion – including hate – as the pasuk in Koheles (3:8) famously tells us, not only is there an eis lehov, a time to love, there is also an eis lisno, a time to hate. We don’t always appreciate the uniqueness of this attitude, but this idea of scrupulous animosity is predominantly apparent within the essence of Parshas Zachor.

Zachor es asher asah l’cha Amalek (Devarim 25:17) – we are instructed to forever remember what Amalek did to us. This is not just an intellectual exercise in historical memory or national mindfulness, no sir! Lest we forget, remembering is just part of the equation. The other part is Timcheh es zecher Amalek mitachas hashomayim, lo tishkach (Devarim 25:19) – we must obliterate any memory, any hint, of Amalek in the world; and don’t ever forget it!

As if Amalek were difficult to identify, one need not look too far to see how close to home the threat has become. To be sure, Amalek doesn’t just come around every once in a while, in the form of the Hamans and Hilters of our history books – may their names be erased! Unfortunately, in our everyday lives, the evil vestiges of Amalek still plague us, and threaten to overwhelm our sense of Torah values, our moral code of ethics and our performance of mitzvos.

Events of the past few weeks alone have plainly shown that Amalek continues to exist in a very real way. Tragedies r’l have once again brought to the forefront of our consciousness a two-thousand-year-old rule. Rabi Shimon Bar Yochai states unequivocally a universal law that Eisav sonei es Yaakov – Eisav hates, and will always hate Bnei Yisroel. And while sometimes blatant and obvious, Amalek is also subtly and subliminally interwoven into society’s semblance of structure.

Thus, Hashem instructs us, Zachor! We must actively remember – to make sure that we don’t become desensitized or indifferent to the evil and corruption that surrounds us – so that we can effectively wipe out Amalek! And don’t forget it even for a moment – Lo tishkach! – we need to remain vigilant at all times, constantly cognizant of Amalek in all of its ugly manifestations. This is the only way to achieve the Torah’s directive: Timcheh es zecher Amalek mitachas hashomayim.

The Gemara (Taanis 29a) states that just as when the month of Av arrives, we decrease our simcha, so too as soon as the month of Adar begins, we increase our simcha. Which tells us that whether it is to be lessened or increased, simcha in some form or another should always permeate our lives. Tomid B’simcha! – which makes this post particularly appropriate. Timche was composed by Mona Rosenblum, and was sung by Mordechai Ben David on MBD’s unforgettable album Tomid B’simcha from 1994. The song, like its message, is timeless, so let’s remember never to forget it. Lo tishkach!

Wishing all of you a memorable Shabbos Parshas Zachor!

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