Rabbi Ari Hart
Parashat Zachor is a challenge for many modern readers. What does it mean to remember an event that happened thousands of years ago? Who or what isAmalek today? What do we do with verses from the Torah which appear to be an exhortation to genocide?
Scholars have offered many interpretations, ranging from national-political to the personal-psychological. An interpretation I find compelling is Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch's. He wrote that Amalekis the force "which only finds its strength in the might of its sword and its love of glory in treading down all unprepared weaker ones." Amalek is the love of power, of oppression, and violence for their own sakes. And why must we remember Amalek? So we do not become like it.
But how do we remember? Does reading a few pesukim in shul really do the job? Perhaps looking at the verses in a broader context might help us understand the call to zachor. remememrance.
The verses immediately preceding parashat Zachor: (Deutoronomy 25:15) are:
A perfect and honest measure you shall have, that your days may be lengthened on the land which the Lord, your God gives you. For an abomination of the Lord your God are all who do this, all who act corruptly.
And the verses after the remembrance of Amalek describe the how to do the offering of bikkurim, first fruits, to God (Deutoronomy 26:1) "My father was a wandering Aramean, and he went down into Egypt... But the Egyptians mistreated us and made us suffer, subjecting us to harsh labor. Then we cried out to God... and God heard our voice and saw our misery, toil and oppression. So the Lord brought us out of Egypt... and brought us to this place and gave us this land... and now I bring the firstfruits of the soil that you, God, have given me... Then you and the Levites and the strangers residing among you shall rejoice in all the good things the Lord your God has given to you and your household."
What precedes and follows the commandment to remember the memory of Amalek are clear calls to:
1. Establish justice by acting honestly and justly in our most mundane affairs
2. Never exploit others economically
3. Remember our humble beginnings
4. Be grateful for what we have
5. Include those who are less fortunate in our communities.
That's the prescription for the defeat of Amalek. The Baal Shem Tov writes that the threat from Amalek is spiritual, and it comes from within. The verses before and after the story of Amalek are the Torah's tools to remind ourselves to never turn into our own worst enemy.
Rabbi Ari Hart is a co-founder of Uri L'Tzedek, an orthodox social justice organization. Rabbi Hart currently serves as Associate Rabbi at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale and as Director of Admissions for Yeshivat Chovevei Torah. Ari learned at Yeshivat HaKotel, Machon Pardes, and graduated from Grinnell College in 2004 with a bachelor's degree in music theory and composition.
for additional insights on this week's parsha and others, visit The JTS Torah Commentary archive: http://www.jtsa.edu
May Their Memories Be For a Blessing
3/14/2014 (12 Adar II)
3/17/2014 (15 Adar II)
3/21/2014 (19 Adar II)
Jewel Dorothy Shuback
3/24/2014 (22 Adar II)
3/25/2014 (23 Adar II)
3/30/2014 (28 Adar II)
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Shabbat Tzav/Shabbat Zachor
Friday, March 14th
6 p.m. Kabbalat Shabbat/Maariv,
Saturday, March 15th
9 a.m. Services, Sanctuary
10 a.m. Supervised Youth Activities,
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We warmly welcome new members Barrettt and Karyn Zeff and their sons Luke and Dane to the B'nai Israel Synagogue Family.
Looking forward to celebrating Purim this Saturday evening, 8:45 p.m. at Beth Ahm, and Sunday morning, beginning at 9 a.m., at B'nai Moshe.
Sunday, April 27-Sunday, May 4th
Laurel Park Place, Livonia
Used Book and Media Sale, Supporting the Need to Read
Upcoming TKA/BI Joint Opportunities
SOUTH OAKLAND SHELTER
HOUSING OF GUESTS AT TKA/BI,
MARCH 23-30, 2014
TKA will once again be housing guests for one week from South Oakland Shelter. There are many ways to get involved and help. Everyone's help is needed! Chuck Seigerman and Steve Dines are the BI point people for this. Click here to sign up online or e-mail Steve or Chuck with any questions.
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Upcoming Youth and Family Activities
FAMILY CAMP 2014 MARCH 21st-23rd
Family Night at Minyan, one Sunday/month.
Bring your family to help make minyan at 5 p.m. and enjoy pizza dinner in the social hall following services. MARK YOUR CALENDAR: 4/27, 6/1.
APRIL 17TH AND 18th
Upcoming Shabbat Youth Activities
SHABBAT CHILDREN'S WORKSHOP DATES for youth ages 7-12. 30 minutes of tefilla and parsha fun.
11-11:45 a.m., ROOM 9
APRIL 5th, MAY 3 (10:30 A.M.) JUNE 7 YOUTH SHABBAT
SHABBAT TEEN ACTIVITIES
D'VAR TORAH COCOA CAFE
for ages 13-17,
11:00-11:45 a.m., Social Hall
Listen to the D'var Torah in the main sanctuary, then give your take over cocoa and cider. Kiddush lunch following, with Spirited singing and Birkat Hamazon led by teens. e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. FUTURE DATES:
APRIL 5TH, MAY 3RD
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"Reflections on the Siddur," with Dr. Mitch Parker
Saturdays, 11-11:45 a.m.
March 22 April 12 and 26
May 10 and 24 June 7 and 21
Mitch will focus on Ashrei, Aleinu, the Kaddish, Adon Olam, Yigdal, Hallel and Birkat Hamazon.
Class meets in the lower level, Room 9.
Lunch and Learn Series
with Hillel Buechler, Ramah Fellow
First Tuesday of every month
Next session: 12:15 p.m., April 8th.
Meet at Barnes and Noble on Orchard Lake Road Bring your own lunch. There is no charge to attend. Please e-mail Hillel Buechler if you plan to attend.
Shabbat Shiur Series
Shabbat Afternoons, last Saturday of the month following lunch and prior to minha. Shiur (class) will meet in the chapel. All our welcome. There is no charge to attend.
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29 Brittany Beider
29 Mark Webber
30 Ryan Schmeltz
31 Sharon Knoppow
31 Meredith Weingarden
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