Schechter Logo for Print

Shabbat Zachor: Where Do We Find Amalek Today?

This Shabbat is titled Shabbat Zachor, inwhich we are commanded to remember Amalek and what they did to us. Why should we bother to remember Amalek still today? Rabbi Professor David Frankel, Associate Professor of Bible at Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies, explains to us that in every generation we have our own Amalek, and defines the utter importance of remembering them.

Watch the video and read the article:

This year Parashat Vayikra comes out on Shabbat Zakhor. On Shabbat Zakhor we remember “et asher-asah lecha amalek” (Deuteronomy 25:17). We remember “that which Amalek did” as the Israelites came out of Egypt, how they attacked from behind those who were straggling, and those who were weak. They showed no fear of god. 

The question I’d like to ask is why has this parsha, become such a central part of the Jewish tradition? It is a special mitzvah to always remember “that which happened to Amalek”. I would like to suggest that Amalek here is not just a one-time event. Amalek represents that which is evil, destructive, and reflects a lack of morality and a basic sense of decency. The fear and the danger that the Torah wants to warn against is that we may forget that this is humanity. That this is part of humanity. We may think that we are somehow in a new era, that mankind has advanced, civilization has advanced, and so we can plan our world for a brighter future without worry. The Torah teaches us “zachor”, always remember because what happened with Amalek is paradigmatic of the human character and nature. The evil which is within humanity does not go away, we have to fight it in each generation, and therefore the Torah also says “Milchamah ladonai ba’amalek middor dor.” (Exodus 17:16) The fight against Amalek is a fight that is continuous. It never disappears. There are ups, there are downs, but we have to remember and strengthen our resolve against the evil in the world because the fight for a better society is a never-ending fight. And we must always build up that conviction and resolve remembering what humanity can do.

Shavua Tov from Schechter.

David Frankel is Associate Professor of Bible at the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies. He has been on the faculty since 1992. He earned his PhD from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem under the direction of Prof. Moshe Weinfeld. His publications include “The Murmuring Stories of the Priestly School,” and “The Land of Canaan and the Destiny of Israel.”  From 1991 to 1996, Frankel was rabbi of Congregation Shevet Achim in Gilo, Jerusalem.

Join our mailing list

Sign up to our newsletter for the newest articles, events and updates.

    * We hate spam too! And will never share or sell your email or contact information with anyone

    Skip to content