This week’s Parsha is Parshas Tetzavaeh. It is also Parshas Zachor, which is the Shabbos before Purim when we read of the commandment to remember what the wicked people of Amalek did to the Jews when we left Egypt, and they attacked us for no reason. The first words of this small portion are very famous: Zachor es asher asah lecha Amalek – Remember what Amalek did to you when you left Egypt. Rav Tzadok explained that the Torah is telling us that we must remember what Amalek did to you – what effect Amalek has had upon us. That is, it is very easy to find the effects of Amalek in other people. What we are really supposed to do is to find the effects of Amalek in ourselves.
What was the power of Amalek? The words used in the Torah to describe that event are Asher Karcha - that he “happened” upon you. The word Kar means cold. The effect of Amalek was to be able to “cool” down the Jews. In the simple understanding, this refers to cooling down the Jewish people in the eyes of others. When the Jews left Egypt, they were very “hot” in the eyes of the world. No one dared to start with them. They had just experienced the infliction on their enemy of the ten plagues, and the crossing of the Sea of Reeds. When Amalek came and started with them, he cooled down this perception in the eyes of the world. Following the example of Amalek, fighting with the Jews was a viable possibility. This was a terrible effect that came upon the Jews from Amalek.
In a deeper sense, Asher Karcha - that he cooled you down, refers to our relationship with G-d. When we are relating to G-d the way a healthy child relates to his or her parent, there is warmth and excitement in the relationship. We don’t only do a favor for our parent when we have to, but because we want to. This attitude is supposed to be similar in the way we serve G-d. There should be feelings of warmth and passion in serving G-d and doing His will. If we are slow, or sluggish in doing any of the Commandments, that indicates a feeling of coldness in doing them. That coldness we trace to Amalek. When we look for asher asah lecha Amalek – for the effects that Amalek has left upon us, we must make sure that our excitement and warmth in doing the mitzvos, in serving G-d and connecting to Him is alive and healthy. If it isn’t then we must find this penetration of Amalek within ourselves and eradicate it.