18 Tishrei 5782 / Friday, September 24, 2021 | Torah Reading: Sukkot
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Parshat Zachor: Remember Not to Forget!    

Parshat Zachor: Remember Not to Forget!

Parshat Zachor - Amalek is a master strategist that knows how to wreak maximum havoc with minimal effort.


The War against Doubt
"Remember what Amalek did to you, on the way, when you were leaving Egypt, that he encountered you on the way, and he struck those weak of you that were lagging behind, and you were tired and weary" (Devorim 25: 17-18).
"He encountered you on the way" is a play on words in Hebrew; it also means, "He cooled you down". Emuna, the pure and complete faith in Hashem, resembles a constant burning ember in one's midst, always there to warm the soul, enabling it to survive in a cold and cruel world. Amalek is the opposite; he's a jug of ice water that not only tries to cool down the ember of emuna, he tries to extinguish it altogether. Therefore, the commandment to wipe out Amalek is not simply a matter of piety, but an issue of basic spiritual and emotional survival.
A soul cannot be healthy without emuna, for emuna is just as much a basic need to the soul as oxygen is to the lungs. When the lungs lack oxygen, the body malfunctions. In extreme cases, a lack of oxygen leads to brain damage and death. In like manner, a deficiency of emuna leads to a myriad of emotional ills, namely, depression, anxiety, and stress just to name a few. Since emotions are rooted in the soul, and the soul thrives on emuna, the lack of emuna leads to a breakdown in emotional health that ultimately drives people to psychiatrists and pills, neither of which serve to solve the problem. Amalek knows this full well.
Amalek is a master strategist that knows how to wreak maximum havoc with minimal effort. Amalek simply hones in on a person's emuna; it doesn't take many drops of ice water to extinguish a candle, especially if the candle is a weak and flickering flame. With this metaphor in mind, if a person's emuna is weak, Amalek has no problem destroying it altogether. Don't forget – by destroying a person's emuna, Amalek destroys the person, for the road from sadness and depression to total oblivion is dangerously short. But, when a person's emuna burns like a fiery furnace, Amalek and his henchmen – the elements of spiritual impurity, doubt, skepticism, and outright heresy.
The "tired and weary", the victims of Amalek, are those with the injured souls. They drag behind and are vulnerable to a number of ills, emotional and spiritual. As such, simply guarding against Amalek is not enough; a Jew must initiate a preemptive strike against Amalek before Amalek strikes him. The best defense is a fierce offensive; strengthening one's emuna destroys Amalek more than anything else. Since the war against Amalek is constant, so should be our efforts in strengthening our emuna.
How do we strengthen emuna?
Rebbe Nachman of Breslev advises (see Sichot HaRan, 32), "To Strengthen yourself in faith, completely avoid all speculation (investigation into the logic of faith – LB). Do not engage in philosophy, but believe in Hashem with innocent faith. Carefully remove all speculation from your heart. Cast it away and do not think about it at all. All you need is a pure faith in Hashem and in the true tzaddikim."
Rebbe Nachman teaches that since we have received the Torah through an unbroken chain that connects directly back to Moshe (Moses) our teacher, and it has been transmitted to us by the awesome tzaddikim of each generation, then there is no room for doubt. Inasmuch, emuna is the opposite of doubt. Interestingly, the numerical equivalent of "Amalek" (240) is identical to the numerical equivalent of "doubt", or sapheq in Hebrew, also 240.
Amalek is the philosopher that penetrates one's heart with doubts and skepticism. The flames of simple and uncomplicated emuna flush him out of the heart and burn him to a crisp. But, Amalek – aka the Yetzer Hara, Evil Inclination, and the Angel of Death – never gives up. He's a cat with far more than nine lives who always springs back to life in order to continue to attack our flanks of faith. Therefore, one must be on constant alert and constant vigil to prevent Amalek's surprise attack.
Rebbe Nachman further elaborates that the philosopher in every person's heart is the Evil One, who raises questions in one's mind. Our mission in life is to humble him and eject him, strengthening ourselves in faith and emptying our hearts of all questions and doubts, by clinging to the tzaddikim of each generation. As in any war, an experienced and seasoned soldier knows that his life depends on the degree of trust he has in his commanders, and the extent to which he implements their orders. In like manner, the only way we can be guaranteed success in our lifelong battle against Amalek is by fulfilling the advice of our great tzaddikim, particularly our Rebbe and master, Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, of blessed and saintly memory. May we all merit to see the final victory over Amalek and the full redemption of our people speedily andf in our days, amen.

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