• Gabbai

Ki Tetze – Pesky Amalekites, Reprise

This is a guest post, contributed by Russell Harding, who delivered this sermon in the Wellington Hebrew Congregation, Shabbat 2 September, 2017.

We were recently treated to an insightful Shiur from our own Tadhg Cleary on the nature of the battle with the Amalekites. Ki Tetsei gives us an opportunity to fulfil three Mitzvot in case we missed it earlier in the year. These are:

1. The obligation to remember what Amalek did to the Jewish people when they were leaving Egypt (603);

2. The obligation to destroy the seed of Amalek (604); and

3. The prohibition to forget what Amalek did to our ancestors when they were leaving Egypt (605).

The Sefer Ha Chinuch explains that the first Mitzvah requires that we not only remember what Amalek did to our ancestors but that we verbalise it. If we merely make a mental note along with buying milk, hummus and bananas on the way home, we are likely to forget in the same way I forget to pick up the groceries. There are some obvious questions: One, what was it that Amalek did? Second question – why has Amalek been picked out especially for these Mitzvot? And finally, if the war against Amalek is intergenerational, what do these Mitzvot mean in our time?