Parshas Vayikra/Zachor 08

This week we read Parshas Vayikra. It is also a special Shabbos called Parshas Zachor, the Shabbos that we read about the war that Amalek waged against the Jews in the desert. The Torah tells us “Zachor es asher asa Lecha Amalek – Remember what amalek did to you” (Deuteronomy ). The famous commentator Rav Tzadok tells us that what the Torah is saying is, find the Amalek in you. It is very easy to find Amalek in someone else. We must look in a deep and penetrating way at what Amalek resides inside of us rather than looking for him in others.

As the Torah goes on to describe the episode in which we met Amalek, the Torah says “Asher Karcha” – that he met you,… Our sages teach us that the prefix Kar – is actually related to the word cold. That is, in a physical sense Amalek cooled us down in the eyes of the world. Until now the entire world was too scared to start up with the Jewish people. When Amalek came and fought with us, the fear of waging war against the Jews was “cooled” down – it became a real possibility to others.

There is a much deeper meaning to the concept of “cooling down” the Jewish people. Any physical damage that Amalek can inflict upon us, comes from a root of spiritual damage that he has done to us. The physical concept of “cooling” down feelings towards the Jewish people, is rooted in a spiritual “cooling” down that Amalek has affected us with. That is, a cooling down in our approach to the mitzvos – the commandments. When we feel an excitement in how we do our mitzvos, a freshness in them, a joy at the opportunity they give us to connect with Hashem, then we are “hot”. Our relationship with Hashem is alive and well, is felt, is savored, and vibrant. We feel good about ourselves and accomplished every time we do a mitzvah. On the other hand, when Amalek succeeds in affecting us, then all of a sudden our approach to doing a mitzvah gets “cold”. Are we excited to do a mitzvah? Do we enjoy it? Do we have a easier time getting out of bed to run to shul and to pray, or to go on a fishing trip? Do we commit more time to study or for silly things? Do we feel more accomplished when we’ve had the opportunity to help another Jew, or when we suddenly made an extra $100? These are lessons that the Torah teaches us regarding our relationship with Hashem. If we can “warm up” and make “hot” the feelings that we have for mitzvohs, enjoy them, make them the focus of our energies, then we will have succeeded in overcoming Amalek, and hopefully soon bring Mashiach.