I connect to the idea of mitzvah as commitment, rather than commandment. Ki Ketze ends with the mitzvah to remember a tragedy – Amalek’s surprise attack of the hungry and weary Israelites in the desert.
Kit Tetze begins like a football coach’s speech to pump up the team, “When you take the field as a warrior against your enemies…” It’s football season – I love sports, the art of the team working together striving for perfection. Sports can display human greatness. And the culture surrounding sports can display some of the saddest aspects of humanity.
What does it mean to be committed to remembering? Why remember a tragedy like Amalek’s attack in the desert? I think being committed to remembering means we can learn from tragedies of the past, big or small. We can learn from Amalek’s attack that life is fragile.
We can learn from personal mistakes; a bad decision at a football pre-game does not need to define someone for eternity. Remember the mistake and learn from it.
Remembering also means to celebrate and enjoy life, while recognizing that every action has a reaction. What we do, big or small, makes a difference in this world.
Davey Rosen is Associate Director at University of Michigan Hillel.