To Forget A Holocaust Is To Kill Twice

Every morning at the end of our prayers we recite the six remembrances, one of which is to remember Amalek.

From a young age I have been perplexed by this passage, for in it lies a contradiction. It starts: “Remember what Amalek did to you on your journey out of Egypt,” and goes on to say, “you must erase any reminder of Amalek from beneath the skies.”

How can we both blot out any memory of Amalek and at the same time remember him?

I am sure this question has previously been addressed and received many an answer. I too extrapolated another meaning from this.

This week saw a lot of focus on the Holocaust as we commemorated seventy years since the liberation of Auschwitz. I watched a short clip about the concentration camp and I was moved by the closing remarks of the TV presenter: “Auschwitz will probably never be forgotten, but as a warning and deterrent against genocide, it has already failed.”

I found an answer to our initial question. It is not a contradiction to blot out the memory of Amalek while remembering him.

The commandment to remember Amalek is incumbent on the individual. That is, remembering what they did and to educate oneself so that it will not happen again.
While the mitzvah to obliterate his memory is for the community to erase the possibility for such actions to transpire ever again.

However we have not yet succeeded.

I spent last Pesach in Mogilev Podolski, a small Ukrainian village previously a host to a Nazi death camp. We arrived at the Holocaust museum on the day commemorating seventy years since it’s liberation, only to find a smashed window and swastikas sprayed on the door.

Just a few days ago while many were mourning the atrocities of the past, a convoy of our soldiers was attacked by a group of merciless Hezbollah terrorists. In Europe, after seeing a brutal attack on a kosher supermarket in France, Jews are once again expressing fear for their future.

As a young girl, my grandmother was forced to flee Germany shortly before the war began never to see her parents again. She constantly reminds me that the Germans were the most sophisticated nation of their time, but their elitist ideology led to the most inhumane and systematic genocide the world has ever seen.

To remember requires our action, and our actions must be directed toward the eradication of hate.

May humanity as a whole see that indifference to evil is intolerable, and its existence must be crushed.

About the Author
Shlomie Cohen attends Mayanot Institute of Jewish studies. In July of this year he is due to qualify as a Rabbi and receive a Bachelors degree in Judaic studies. He grew up in the UK and he has since attended Yeshivos around the world, standing in occasionally as Synagogue Rabbi in a number of congregations.
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