A Dvar Torah 25 Years in The Making

This dvar Torah is 25 years in the making. Yes, I delivered one for my Bat Mitzvah; no, I did not read the portion myself (wasn't allowed to) and whatever I spoke about (of which I have no recollection) clearly did not make any memorable impact on my life. Alas, here we are.

Ki Tetzei means "When You Go Out" (to battle, since thats the next word in the sentence). This Torah portion contains the most Mitzvot (rules) in all the Torah, 72 to be precise. From rules about marriage, sexuality, to how to care for the land, Moses lays it all out with precise detail. That is a whole lot of rules to remember. If you read the list closely, you notice that almost every rule has a "balance" to it: "Do not plow with an ox and a donkey together", "Do not wear linen and wool together". It also outlines the rules on how to relate to one another: "Keep your promises", "When collecting debt, you shall do so in a righteous way". The majority of the portion is straight forward and, for the most part, taking into account when it was written, pretty common sense-ish.

Then, there's the last piece, when Moses reminds the Israelites about Amalek and his awful deeds. He tells the people zachor v'lo tishkach (remember and do not forget). But, in the same breath, he tells them timcheh et zecher (blot out the memory). How are we supposed to remember something but erase it all at the same time? Why am I being told to erase a memory and not forget it?

Here's the thing about life lessons...when we forget a wrong, we are more likely to make the same mistake. Amalek was the enemy, and what Moses is asking the Israelites to do is to erase their existence, but do not forget the impact that it had on the journey. We are not asked to forget the wrong, but those who wronged us; the wrong is what we remember in order to prevent it from happening again. Its existence fuels us as we move towards a stronger, more united future in our Jewish communities. We take the power out of their existence, and reclaim it as our own weapon as we go into battle. 

I enter this Shabbat fighting my own personal battles; choosing who to give power to, and who's power to take and reclaim for myself. I enter this 25th anniversary of my Bat Mitzvah (oy, this is why my kids call me old) reclaiming an opportunity that was taken from me and rewriting my story. My wish is that you do the same: take your place, reclaim your power, and enter your own battles with a renewed sense of commitment, without forgetting what you enemies and trials lead you to be who you are today. May we all find our voice and continue changing the world.


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