Divrei Torah

PARSHAS R'EI 5777

Towards the end of this week’s Parsha, the Torah commands us “in order that you should remember the Exodus from the Land of Egypt all the days of your life.” There is a Mitzva to remember the Exodus daily. It is one of six events that we are commanded to remember on a daily basis. The other five events are: 1) G-d giving us the Torah at Mount Sinai, 2) the war against Amalek 3) the incident of the Golden Calf 4) Miriam’s punishment for speaking Lashon Hara against Moshe and the last event is the Shabbos.

Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l makes note of two differences in the manner we remember two of these mitzvos – the Exodus from Egypt and the war against Amalek. Each of these mitzvos has a leniency and a stringency that does not apply to the other mitzva. 

In addition to the mitzva of remembering the Exodus, there is also an obligation to mention it twice daily –in the morning and again in the evening. On both occasions, we fulfill our obligation when we recite the last verse of the Shema. In contrast - the mitzva of remembering Amalek is daily, however the obligation is only one time per year. 

When we fulfill our annual obligation to mention the war with Amalek, we must do so from a Torah scroll. On the other hand, the obligation to remember the Exodus can be fulfilled in any manner that jogs our memory. Why are there these distinctions in the manner that we remember these events?

Rav Moshe explains that the purpose of remembering the Exodus is to strengthen our faith in the might of G-d. This can be accomplished through anything that recalls the miracles associated with the Exodus. Therefore, a Torah scroll is not required when remembering the Exodus.

However, the purpose of remembering the war with Amalek is to teach us that anybody who does not have the protection of the Torah can sink to the level of Amalek. That lesson requires studying Torah. Studying Torah – the Chumash – the Written Torah - requires a Sefer Torah. 

Rav Moshe explains, the only way to ensure that we will remember something is through constant repetition. To that extent, we must mention the Exodus twice daily. However, a potential pitfall to learning in this manner is that it can become habitual, thus losing our proper train of thought and concentration. So, Amalek is mentioned only on an annual basis to ensure that when it is time to perform that mitzva, we will take it seriously and concentrate properly.

We must mention the Exodus twice daily. We remember Amalek annually. We need repetition while keeping the matters fresh and advanced at the same time. An idea perhaps unique to Judaism - repeat and repeat, yet it never gets old.