Parashat Tetzaveh (You Shall Command)
Shemot (Exodus) 27:20-30:10
Special reading for Shabbat “Zachor” (Remembrance) Deuteronomy 25:17-19
Haftarah: 1 Samuel 15:1-35
In this week’s reading there is a special reading for Shabbat “Zachor” (Remembrance), which is the Shabbat (Sabbath Day) before the feast of Purim.
In our special reading of this week’s Parashah we read:
Remember what Amalek did to you on the way when you came out of Egypt, how he confronted you on the way and attacked among you all the stragglers at your rear when you were tired and weary; and he did not fear God. So it shall come about, when the LORD your God has given you rest from all your surrounding enemies in the land which the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance to inherit, that you shall wipe out the mention of the name Amalek from under heaven; you must not forget.”
God’s instruction was to wipe out the name of Amalek from under the heaven. In our Haftarah portion this week, we read of the tragic account that took place after Samuel anointed Saul as King, and that Saul did not follow God’s clear instructions to Israel, which Samuel had repeated to Saul:
Then Samuel said to Saul, “The LORD sent me to anoint you as king over His people, over Israel; now therefore, listen to the words of the LORD. This is what the LORD of armies says: ‘I will punish Amalek for what he did to Israel, in that he obstructed him on the way while he was coming up from Egypt. Now go and strike Amalek and completely destroy everything that he has, and do not spare him; but put to death both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’
1 Samuel 15:1-3
Saul did not do as the Lord instructed him to do:
But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the more valuable animals, the lambs, and everything that was good, and were unwilling to destroy them completely; but everything despicable and weak, that they completely destroyed.
1 Samuel 15:9
Saul’s disobedience eventually cost him his kingship over Israel.
You may be wondering why these two Scripture portions are included in the special reading on the Shabbat before Purim. It has to do with the consequences of our disobedience. King Saul’s disobedience affected the children of Israel for many years after the fact, and in the Book of Esther, we read of an evil man who is believed to be a descendent of Agag the Amalekite (whom Saul spared!):
After these events King Ahasuerus honored Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, and promoted him and established his authority over all the officials who were with him.
As we know from the story, Haman plotted to destroy the entire Jewish people, a plot that not only failed big time, but also cost his and his family’s lives.
My dear brothers and sisters, one of the main things that one can learn from this week’s special reading is the importance of listening to and obeying everything that the Lord has commanded you. Our disobedience will not just affect us, but possibly generations after us. However, on the other hand, our obedience will bless not only us, but generations after us!
In the Book of Esther 4:14, we read of the famous words that Mordechai told Esther:
For if you keep silent at this time, liberation and rescue will arise for the Jews from another place, and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?
I believe that God predestined for you and me to live in “such a time as this”, and that is not for us to simply claim that, but to embrace the fullness of what God has called us to.
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