Ki Teitzei 5775: Amalek Within

Remember AmalekAmalek is the arch-villain of Torah. This week’s portion, Ki Teitzei, refers to an incident in Exodus just after the people crossed the Red Sea. The army of Amalek attacked Israel from behind, where the old and weak straggled. Here in Deuteronomy (25:17-19) we’re told: i) to remember the evil Amalek perpetrated, ii) to wipe out his descendants and iii) to blot out his name. The three paragraphs of this prayer correspond to these three commandments.

Amalek Within
We remember
The day you set upon us from behind.
The day you attacked
The weak, the faint, the exhausted and defenseless.
We remember your savagery and your glee,
Your malice and ruthless intent.
We remember the fear, the horror,
The shrieks and the cries.

Villain, coward,
Where do you hide?
Scattered among the nations?
Or have you quietly, secretly,
Infiltrated our lives,
Hardening our hearts to one another?
Children of Israel,
Each man, each woman,
Banish Amalek from within,
And he will be destroyed forever.

When we remember,
To love and to cherish,
To build and preserve,
To walk in the way of G-d,
Then this name,
This Amalek,
Will be blotted forever
From the face of the earth.
When we remember
The pain and suffering of others,
When we exile wickedness from our hearts,
Evil will disappear forever.
We will not forget.

© 2015 Alden Solovy and All rights reserved.

Postscript: According to Targum, descendants of Amalek survived – among them Haman from the Book of Esther – and the remnant is dispersed among the nations, unrecognizable. The second paragraph of this prayer interprets the command to wipe about Amalek according to our sages who teach that part of Amalek can be found in each of us as the evil inclination.

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