Replacing Doubt With Clarity

This is a translation of the first section on Purim from Reb Zalman’s book Yishmru Da’at available from Aleph.  The Hebrew text is found after the English below.  Happy Purim.  Gabbai Seth Fishman, BLOG Editor

“Remember what Amalek did to you…  He chilled you on the way – put you down…  When [God] will grant you rest…  Blot out the memory of Amalek… Don’t Forget.”  (Deut 25;17,18,19)

“Blot out the memory of Amalek…”  That is, no memory of Amalek shall remain with you.  And at the same time, “Don’t forget?”  It’s strange.  How can we remove our memory of him and yet not forget him?  Why it’s a contradiction!  A paradox that can’t be understood on face value.  And so it raises safeq / doubt regarding this commandment.

How to explain? Like so:  Amalek in numerical value is safeq / doubt.

70 (ayin) + 40 (mem) + 30 (lamed) + 100 (kuf) = 60 (Samech) + 80 (feh) + 100 (kuf)

And what main doubt [is Amalek’s legacy]?  In everyone, there is a deep-seated urge for self-destruction, to sabotage oneself, stemming from [the angel’s] strong arguments [as to why mankind should not happen], and Azael, and as written in the section on Yom Kippur in the Sefer Beit Yaakov (Izhbitze).  This accusation [against mankind] is found in the Christian “Original Sin,” the sin of the Tree of Knowledge.

Granted, there are some times when the sense that, “All’s well with the world,” is replaced by one that says, “All’s corrupt.”  At such times, it is critical to remember, (Deut 4;10) “The day you stood before God at Chorev,” (cf., Sabbath 146a) and their impurity ceased (cf., ketubot 111b), and Torah’s dew rescuscitated him, or to grow in strength through the Holy Name.  “Your essence is as a precious scent; therefore do the maidens – (i.e., the worlds – alamot olamot) love You.”

And so, in times of trouble, when there is war, strife, or  a journey (Jer, 2;2) “into the Wilderness, a land that was not sown,” it is extremely difficult to erase this Amalek memory-trace, doubting the value and reason for existence.  But while it’s true that we’re told, (Ps.8;5) “What is the human that you’d be mindful of him,”  in other places, it also says, (ibid, verse 6)  “You have made them only a little less than God,” and,  (Ps. 34;10.)  “There is no lacking at all for those who fear God,” no lacking even to the point where the separation between oneself and God vanishes altogether.

It is for this reason that Scripture warns us that when there is a situation causing anxiety or despair, don’t give up.  Instead, “Remember what Amalek did to you,” i.e., [remember] the doubt that had cut you off from the deepest, innermost places when you were leaving Egypt, that your faith had been truncated, that you believed with the Egyptians that the only way to better yourself was to return to slavery.  And they put you down, i.e., they truncated your faith, that you believed your place only last, not first, and they threw you the notion that (Num 24;20), “The principal among nations,” i.e. Amalek,” but you had no good value at all.  And you were tired and weary. And all the fear lowered you, in a sense, because you couldn’t reach to the level of, “There is no lacking to those who fear Him;” and so you feared not God.

“It shall be when God will give you respite from all the enemies surrounding you,” at such a time, it is a human tendency that a residual depression is not addressed.  But the Torah commands us for such a time, “When you have respite from enemies surrounding you,” remember to erase the memory of Amalek, the Zikr Amalek drummed into you.  And knowing that the doubting has a toll on you, replace it with a new Zikr, don’t forget to install the good Zikr for yourself:  (Deuteronomy 26;18)  “God has bespoken you… and you have bespoken God.”






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