Introduction to Jewish Meditation – Part 11

The Six Continuous Commandments and the Six Remembrances (continued)

3. The third remembrance of Amalek at the end of our daily prayers corresponds to the rear, the continuous commandment to shield one’s mind from negative thoughts of heresy and lust. And so is the idiom of the Torah: “how he met you on the way, and cut down [lit., ‘tailed you,’ the tail being a symbol of the rear] all the weak who straggled behind you.” As we shall see, Amalek is the archenemy of Israel, who attacks from the rear. The Ba’al Shem Tov teaches that Amalek is the source of heretical thoughts, which themselves provoke thoughts of lust (as also alluded to in the symbol of the “tail”).

4. The remembrance of the sin of the golden calf most clearly corresponds to the continuous commandment not to serve idols. Instead of relying solely upon God, the Provider of all our needs, the people placed their reliance in a molten image.

5. The remembrance of the punishment God meted out to Miriam corresponds to the continuous commandment to fear God, for when we see that even the most beloved to God are held accountable for their deeds, and become (temporarily) severed from His presence–Miriam, punished with leprosy, was ostracized from the camp–we come to fear being severed from God and we stand in awe of His presence.

6. Finally, the remembrance of the day of Shabbat corresponds to the continuous commandment to believe in God’s absolute unity, to know His infinite mercy over all. Shabbat is the revelation of “the higher unification,” as expressed in the first verse of keriat Shema, “Hear, O’ Israel, God is our God;God is one.” The final letters of the three words that precede this verse in the Torah, “flowing with milk and honey” spell Shabbat.

 

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