Parshas Zachor: Remember, Do Not Forget

The Shabbos before Purim is known as Shabbos Parshas Zachor, and before we celebrate the miraculous redemption and salvation of Purim, we remember Haman m’zerah Amalek, and what he planned to do to Am Yisrael.  To fulfill the mitzvah d’Oraisa of Zachor, we will all listen to these ancient, yet timelessly relevant, words read aloud, and fulfill – with intent – the mitzvah of remembering, so that we shall never forget.

זָכ֕וֹר אֵ֛ת אֲשֶׁר־עָשָׂ֥ה לְךָ֖ עֲמָלֵ֑ק בַּדֶּ֖רֶךְ בְּצֵֽאתְכֶ֥ם מִמִּצְרָֽיִם

You shall remember what Amalek did to you on the way, when you went out of Egypt

אֲשֶׁ֨ר קָֽרְךָ֜ בַּדֶּ֗רֶךְ וַיְזַנֵּ֤ב בְּךָ֙ כָּל־הַנֶּֽחֱשָׁלִ֣ים אַֽחֲרֶ֔יךָ וְאַתָּ֖ה עָיֵ֣ף וְיָגֵ֑עַ וְלֹ֥א יָרֵ֖א אֱלֹקים

That he happened upon you on the way and cut off all the stragglers at your rear, when you were faint and weary, and he did not fear G-d

וְהָיָ֡ה בְּהָנִ֣יחַ האֱלֹקיךָ לְ֠ךָ֠ מִכָּל־אֹ֨יְבֶ֜יךָ מִסָּבִ֗יב בָּאָ֨רֶץ֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר האֱלֹקיךָ נֹתֵ֨ן לְךָ֤ נַֽחֲלָה֙ לְרִשְׁתָּ֔הּ תִּמְחֶה֙ אֶת־זֵ֣כֶר עֲמָלֵ֔ק מִתַּ֖חַת הַשָּׁמָ֑יִם לֹ֖א תִּשְׁכָּֽח

And it will be, when the Hashem grants you respite from all your enemies around in the land which the Hashem gives to you as an inheritance to possess, that you shall obliterate the remembrance of Amalek from beneath the heavens. You shall not forget (Devarim 25:17-19).

At the time of the attack of Amalek against Am Yisrael, Hashem commanded Moshe (Shemos 17:14): כְּתֹב זֹאת זִכָּרוֹן בַּסֵּפֶר, וְשִׂים, בְּאָזְנֵי יְהוֹשֻׁעַכִּימָחֹה אֶמְחֶה אֶתזֵכֶר עֲמָלֵק, מִתַּחַת הַשָּׁמָיִםHashem said to Moshe, Inscribe this as a memorial in the book, and place it into the ears of Yehoshua, that I will surely obliterate the remembrance of Amalek from beneath the heavens.

The Rav, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik zt’l, teaches, “The eternity of the Jewish nation is based upon continuity, and this continuity in turn is based mainly on memory.  Here lies the fundamental difference between the non-Jewish world and the Jewish nation.  The world etches its history on tablets, stones, statues and pyramids, while our cultural history is based primarily on memory.  At the same time that Moshe commanded Yehoshua to write, he also commanded him to remember.  While the modern world suffers from memory deficit, our attaining the State of Israel is thanks to the eternal memory of Knesses Yisrael” (Chumash Masores Ha’Rav, Shemos, p.143).

Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch writes, “Remember what Amalek did to you on the way when you were leaving Egypt – The nation as one unit (lecha – to you) was ba’derech, on the road, preoccupied with thoughts and worries far from war.  It was a journey of a homeless multitude traveling in the wilderness with women and children, and one would expect that their plight would arouse in every human heart only humane sympathy, not hostility.  And each one of you had experienced and become aware of the invisible G-d, Who broke the bonds of each individual and released him from Egyptian slavery, a fact that, one would think, should have served to protect and shield the unprotected among you against any wanton attack… That he chanced upon you on the way – You were just proceeding on your way, and you had no reason to assume that an enemy would attack you.  His attack was entirely unprovoked and was strictly the result of bloodthirstiness; or perhaps he sensed the threat posed to him by your entry into history, for you represent the pure humane principle of faithfulness to duty, which contradicts his principle of the power of the sword” (Commentary of RSRH to Devarim 25:17-18).

Every morning at the cemetery in Kadima-Zoran in central Israel, Yaakov Lubinevsky, 99 years old, moves slowly using his scooter together with his caregiver Anna. He comes here every day to visit the grave of his late wife, Mazel. In recent months, he has also been visiting the graves of the late Staff Sergeant Yaron Shay and Staff Sergeant Ofek Russo, HYD.

“Two years ago I lost my wife, Mazal, age of 93. I come here and I tell her what’s going on in our family, what’s going on in the country, sit with her as long as necessary, water the flowers until Anna tells me that we have to move,” he says.

Yaakov is a veteran resident of Kadima-Zoran, small in stature, still lucid. He worked for years as a forest ranger. In recent months, he has also moved between the graves of the two IDF soldiers who were killed at the beginning of the war. 

“In the beginning, it was just the grave of Yaron, who served in the Nahal reconnaissance unit and was killed on the first day of the war defending Kerem Shalom. He is the son of former government minister Izhar Shay, an amazing person in my eyes. The day after Yaron was killed, another hero warrior, Ofek Russo, who fell in Kibbutz Be’eri, was buried. Both were 21 years old, at the beginning of their careers, young men who went to war and never returned,” he says.

Yaakov describes his daily routine. “The first thing I do every morning after I visit my wife’s grave is to come here, to the military section. I water the pots next to the two graves of the heroes, arrange the pictures if they fell in the wind, arrange the stones, so that everything remains as it is. Even if one of the beer bottles on Yaron’s grave falls, I of course make sure to put it back in place.”

“It’s a terrible situation for the families, for the friends,” Yaakov says, “I’m here all the time, taking care of them as if they were my sons. I ‘adopted’ these two fallen soldiers’ graves. We must be here, helping their families. The pain is great, but life must go on. I will make sure to tell everyone who Yaron and Ofek were.”

Yaakov says he has five children, nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. “I try to encourage the families of the fallen,” he says, “I want to help them start living a little, after all, their lives were completely shattered after the terrible disaster. I say that there is a point in getting up in the morning, that there is a point in life. You can be proud of your sons, in the way you taught them to be heroes, young fighters who fell in defense of the country. I am proud to talk about these two soldiers. Look at how many photos their friends have arranged here, they are greatly appreciated.”

Former minister Izhar Shay praised Lubinevsky over the weekend in a social media post: ”Yaakov is a Holocaust survivor.  He lost his entire family in the inferno and arrived in Israel alone after his entire world fell apart.  And here he somehow managed to pull himself up, marry and start a family.  And live a full life, maybe even a happy one.  He knows the price and the horror of life.  And he told us the very first time we met: ‘It hurts terribly, the most painful thing in the world. But know that there is a reason to live, there is something for your Yaron and for you, always remember, there is a reason to live’” (

You shall remember, zachor… you shall not forget, lo tish’kach.

בברכת שלום לעם ישראל, ארץ ישראל, ומדינת ישראל,


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