February 19, 2021
7 Adar 5781
Candle Lighting: 5:17 p.m.
This Shabbat, the Shabbat before Purim, is known across the world as Shabbat Zachor. We are supposed to remember the existential threat that the Amalekites posed to the Israelites as they wandered through the desert. We read this story the Shabbat before Purim because Haman, the villain in the Purim story, also posed an existential threat to the Jewish community. According to the Rabbis, he was a descendent of the Amalekites.
When it comes to the Amalekites, the Torah actually gives us two seemingly contradictory commandments. We are told that we must erase them from our memory, but that we also must never forget them. Upon further reflection, I think that this pairing is speaking to two different dimensions of Zachor, of what it means to remember. When the text says we want to erase the Amalekites from our memory, I think it may be referring to the surprise, the pain, and the shock we felt when they attacked us. We want that pain to go away. But we will never forget what they did to us, as well as the perseverance, the strength, and the resilience the Israelites showed amidst the pain and the chaos in that moment.
For Tifereth Israel, this Shabbat will also be a Shabbat Zachor, a Shabbat of Remembrance for a different reason. It is the second Yartzeit, of our dear friend, our teacher, and our Rabbi, Leonard Rosenthal. We remember the shock, the pain, and the sadness that we all experienced at his passing. After he passed, every time I thought about him and the impact he had on our Tifereth Israel community, and on me, I was filled with immense sadness, and my eyes would fill up with tears. We will never forget Rabbi Rosenthal and what he means to all of us. We will always mourn his passing. But just as is the case for Shabbat Zachor, as time has passed, the pain has subsided. Now, when I reflect on his life, when I think about our friendship, his legacy, and the honor I have to follow in his footsteps, I am filled with gratitude and with thanks for his presence in my life, and the blessings he bestowed on all of us.
To aid us, and support us in our remembrance, I encourage you to watch Cantor Leberman chanting the El Malei Rachamim below, the traditional memorial prayer, in Rabbi Rosenthal’s memory.
May the Memory of HaRav Aryel Leb Meir Ben Yizchak U’Michal always be for a blessing.
Wishing you all a Shabbat of Peace, of Comfort, and of Remembrance,
Rabbi Josh Dorsch