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Zachor, Purim, vaccinations and the back of the line

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23.02.2021

The Shabbat before Purim is called Shabbat Zachor, the Shabbat of Remembrance. A special Maftir (a special additional Torah reading) called Parshat Zachor, the Portion of Remembrance is read. Reading Parshat Zachor, according to some authorities, is a Torah based commandment, a Mitzvah Doraytah, that we are each oblig9ted to fulfill by hearing the entire reading without interruption (Shulchan Aruch Orech Chaim 685:7). It is, of course, important to hear the Torah at its regular times, and every Jewish community is obligated to provide a public Torah reading for its members (Ma’aseh Rav Section 175). What is it about Parshat Zachor, however, that requires from us the heightened obligation that each and every individual Jew must hear this reading without interruption? What is unique about Parshat Zachor? What are we supposed to remember?

Parshat Zachor tells the story of the Amalekites. According to Dvarim (Deuteronomy) Chapter 25:17-19 the Amalekites attacked Israel from behind as they traveled across the desert from Egypt to the land of Israel. Who was behind? Who was in the back? The weak, the sick and the physically challenged. For their cowardly attack on this group of highly vulnerable individuals, the Amalekites are considered to be the paradigm of evil and the arch-enemy of the Jewish People.

The Torah, therefore, commands us to blot out the memory of Amalek. The Torah, however, also commands us not to forget Amalek. There is no nation of Amalek in today’s world. The only reason they exist is because we remember them. If we were to forget about the Amalekites, they would cease to exist. The dual Mitzvah of blotting out and not forgetting presents a contradiction. How can God command us to blot out the memory of Amalek and at the same time command us to not forget........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)


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