Parshat Ki Teitsei 5781: Moshe’s Call to “Zachor Amalek” — Why Here?

Shalom Friends;

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Moshe Burt
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Parshat Ki Teitsei 5781: Moshe’s Call to “Zachor Amalek” — Why Here?

by Moshe Burt

In the final three posukim of our Parshat Ki Teitsei (Sefer Devarim, Perek 25, posukim 17-19), Torah informs us of the Mitzvah of remembering what enduring foe Amalek did to Am Yisrael. We are commanded to remember what Amalek did to us until the time when, as Torah Commands:

“You shall erase the memory of Amalek from under the heaven — Lo Tishkach, you shall not forget.” (Sefer Devarim, Perek 25, posuk 19 as rendered to English by Rabbi Shmuel Goldin in his sefer “Unlocking The Torah Text,” (Sefer Devarim, page 249).

Rabbi Goldin goes on to relate that these three posukim from our Parsha were eventually mandated by the Rabbanim to be read as a special Maftir Aliyah each year on the Shabbos preceding Purim, known as Shabbos Zachor — the Shabbos of remembrance. (ibid, page 249) Rabbi Goldin explains (ibid, page 249):

This reading is ordained in order to ensure the yearly fulfillment of the positive Biblical Mitzvah conveyed by the passage itself: the Mitzvah to remember the crimes of Amalek. (Rabbi Goldin citing Mishneh Megilla Perek 3, posuk 4; Tosafot, Brachot 13a; Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 785:7) The Shabbos before Purim is chosen for the fulfillment of this Mitzvah because Haman, the villain of the Purim story, was a descendant of Agag, the last king of Amalek [whose life was spared by Shaul HaMelech long enough for him to bear an offspring — MB author] (Rabbi Goldin citing Megillat Esther, Perek 3, posuk 1)

While understanding it was essential that Moshe Rabbeinu express, in his sefer Devarim monologue across the generations, the Mitzvah of “remember[ing] what Amalek did to [us]…” and to “wipe out the memory of Amalek from under the heaven…” (Sefer Devarim, Perek 25, posukim 17and 19), why does he speak of it here, at the conclusion of our Parshat Ki Teitsei?

Many thanks go out to R’ Shmuel Bisk of Ramat Beit Shemesh for helping this author find sources, as well as make and understand the connections between remembering the crimes of Amalek and the lessons of the posukim which immediately precede these final three posukim. Big-Time Mega-Dittos Tizke L’Mitzvot!

To start, we recall the three preceding posukim from Moshe’s monologue which we will learn connect to the posukim of Zachor Amalek:

“You shall not have in your house a measure and a measure — a large one and a small one. A perfect and honest stone shall you have, a perfect and honest measure shall you have, so that your days will be lengthened on the land that Hashem, Keilokecha, gives you. For an abomination of Hashem, Keilokecha, are all who do this, all who act fraudulently.” (Sefer Devarim, Perek 25, posukim 14-16 as rendered to English in The Sapirstein Edition, The Torah: With Rashi’s Commentary, pages 262-263)

Rashi explains the connection between dishonest weights and measures and Zachor Amalek:

“Remember what [Amalek] did to you.” If you were untruthful about measures and about weights, be worried about provocation by the enemy. “Dishonest scales are an abomination to Hashem,” and afterwards it is written, “Iniquity comes, and humiliation comes.” (Rashi on Sefer Devarim, Perek 25, posuk 17)

The Nitziv’s HaEmek HaDevar on Sefer Devarim, Perek 25, posuk 17 cites a Gemara in Bava Basra, at the end of the fifth perek, which seems to go further in making the connection between improper, dishonest weights and measures and Amalek’s crimes:

The sin of having dishonest weights and measures is worse than adultery. Why is this stealing worse than adultery? Why is adultery connected to dishonest weights and measures?

Chazal notes the three Major sins: idolatry, adultery and murder. Idolatry is indicative of lack of belief in Hashem. Adultery reflects one’s Yetzer Hora — one’s lust. Murder indicates anger problems toward one’s brethren.

The worst of the three Major sins is idolatry which indicates that one has no interest in Teshuva and is connected to premeditation of action regarding weights and measures and is reflective of disrespect for Hashem.

Despite having seen all of the miracles which Hashem brought the Jews, Amalek disregards them as natural occurrences, and asks: Is there a G’d or not? This reflects a total lack of belief in Hashem.

But now, a note on Rashi’s comment on Perek 25, posuk 17 (rendered to English in The Sapirstein Edition, The Torah: With Rashi’s Commentary, Sefer Devarim, page 263): “Iniquity comes, and humiliation comes.” applies the crusher:

The note cites Tanchuma 8 which cites the gemara of Sanhedrin 55 a-b associating the word “humiliation” with sodomy. Rashi sees it here as alluding to the acts of sodomy committed by the Amalekites to which he refers… “are all who do this”…. to imply that committing the abomination of dishonest weights and measures provokes attack by the enemy (attribution to Ba’er BaSadeh)

The conclusion that this author draws is that dishonesty in weights and measures being premeditated equates with putting ones’ belief, their emunah in riches, their possessions, things or beings other than Hashem. This seems to equate with Amalek’s lack of belief in, and disrespect for Hashem. Thus, the connection between faulty, dishonest weights and measures and the final three posukim of our Parsha: remembering the crimes of Amalek and “eras[ing] the memory of Amalek from under the heaven — Lo Tishkach, you shall not forget.” (Sefer Devarim, Perek 25, posuk 19)

May we, the B’nei Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them and that the thrice expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes, at government expense; both due to alt-leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized Yassamnik gunpoint. Baruch Hashem that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard is now free of his parole and restrictions and that he and his ill wife Esther Yocheved bat Rayzl Bracha are finally home in Eretz Yisrael. May the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem — as with the return in April, 2019, via Russia, of the remains of Zachariah Baumel, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of seven years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and prevent Chas V’Challila the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. And may we soon and finally see the total end to the Communist Chinese corona virus pandemic and all like viruses. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nei Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos!
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.