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Dvar for Ki Tetzei (Deuteronomy 21:10-25:19)

Parashas Ki Tetzei contains many laws, including the one to erase the memory of Amalek because of what they did to the Jews on our way out of Egypt (25:17–19). Because Amalek no longer exists as a nation, the only reason we are to speak of them now is because the Torah memorializes this law. If we’re commanded to forget them, why would the Torah mention it as a law, ensuring that we never forget the law?

Rabbi Ami Silver suggests that while the Jews have been attacked many times, Amalek specifically targeted the helpless and weak while the nation was tired and weary of all their travels. It’s not Amalek that we need to forget; it’s actually the lesson of Amalek that we must commit to memory — the concept of protecting the vulnerable.

This concept is even more evident in the battle of Amalek itself. While Amalek fought the Jews, Moshe stood on a mountain and lifted his arms to the heavens. When his arms got weak, Aharon and Chur helped him by holding up his arms. In contrast, while Amalek attacked the weak, Aharon and Chur supported the weak Moshe. It’s clear from our understanding that the law of erasing Amalek is more of a moral directive relating to the vulnerable, helping those who are weak rather than taking advantage of their weaknesses. This is a common theme among many of the laws and highlights the beauty of the Torah and its guided sensitivities meant to enrich our lives.