2016-08-13 17.19.11Our parasha ends with the commandment to remember. We are asked to remember what Amalek did to us. Amalek is in Jewish tradition the sworn enemy who attacked the Israelites in their weakest moment, right after the liberation from slavery, before Israel had a chance to form an Army or anything comparable. Only God’s protection saved the Israelites from being annihilated.

Interesting is that the Rabbis of our tradition gave this story an important twist, making it relevant for every generation, and not only a narrative about us and the others.  Amalek, the sages teach is not an external enemy, but our internal evil inclination. The one who attacks us in our weakest moments and moves us to transgress our own values, ideals, beliefs and the commandments of God. So if we have to remember Amalek, we are commanded to look into our heart, reviewing past deeds and misdeeds, and asking ourselves where we lost a battle to Amalek and how we can compensate the loss through repentance, teshuvah.

In two weeks’ time is the beginning of 5777. The weeks before Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are considered as the weeks where we should do this soul search. It is the time of year when we look inwardly, reviewing our past deeds and misdeeds. We come, searching for solace and for peace, for answers to, often, unanswerable questions or perhaps to even hear what the questions might be. Maybe we are seeking to be challenged by God, to find new reasons to continue our struggle with God, or perhaps just to say ‘thank you’ to God. Whatever our reasons, whatever our questions, spoken and unspoken, known and unknown, they are valid, and the presence of every one of you, shows how important they are.

The high holy days are a very appropriate time to be honest with ourselves and our god, by asking basic and fundamental life questions: what is it that makes me tick? What is it that I really value, not monetarily, but spiritually? Who am I and what does God, not my boss, my spouse, my children or friends, but God want of me? What if we were confronted by God right now, what would we say?

A priest frantically phones the rabbi down the street and whispers into the phone:
“Rabbi, I think Jesus just walked into my church. What should I do?” And the rabbi replies: “Look busy!”

At this time of the year it’s time for all of us to ‘get busy,’ –  it is time for us to look within and search for our true selves. Now is the time to remember our Amalek. To stand against the evil inclination within us. And to remember one second thing: As God stood at the side of the Israelites and protected them in their battle with Amalek, so is God standing on your side in your encounter with your internal Amalek.

Shabbat Shalom Rabbi Adrian M Schell (Source: dordorim.org)

Torah Reading for Shabbat Ki Teitzei

Deuteronomy 21:10-25:19

Reading: Dtn 21:10-22:11 (P 1322 / H 840)

Haftarah Isaiah 54:1-10 (P 1345/ H 857)

In our parasha Moses reviews a wide variety of laws regarding family, animals, and property. Various civil and criminal laws are outlined, including those regarding sexual relationships, interaction with non-Israelites, loans, vows, and divorce. Also Laws of commerce concerning to loans, fair wages, and proper weights and measures are given. The parashah concludes with the commandment to remember for all time the most heinous act committed against the Israelites—Amalek’s killing of the old, weak, and infirm after the Israelites left Egypt. Podcast of Rabbi Schell’s weekly Sermons Tuesdays on Radio Today (10h30) or:  http://goo.gl/LsHQrY.