Balance the balance
The balance of our life's work
Balanced by G-d's hand
“Remember what Amalek did to you on the way (BADERECH) when you were leaving Egypt,
and how he happened upon you/cooled you down on the way (BADERECH)” – Devarim 25:17. Why two references to DERECH in one line?
Rabbi Bernard Weinberger in his sefer Shemen HaTov asks and answers this question: Amalek lives inside us, it is the yetzer hara. It attacks us using two techniques, which are both alluded to in this pasuk by the double mention of the path on which we encountered Amalek. When we’re up high and feeling great the negative force inside us pushes us too far, toward haughtiness and beyond. And when we’re (rachmanah litzlan) in dire straits and feeling a bit down, the Amalek within pulls us into depression and inaction.
This ties in with an explanation that I heard from Rabbi Ephrayim Polyakkof. Why is it that immediately preceding the pasuk we just cited is the ruling that we must have even weights and measures? If we consider Amalek to be the Yetzer HaRa, the emphasis here on balance becomes more clear. The Amalek inside us thrives on extremes and waits to pounce on any trace of imbalance inside us. When we gravitate too far toward one side we run the risk of having our Amalek pull or push us down to the depths or up over the edge.
This is one explanation of our appeal to G-d (in Hashkiveinu) to remove the Satan from before us and behind us. Sometimes our Amalek pushes us too far up, and sometimes he pulls us too far down. Our only hope is to monitor our own balance and pray to G-d for help.
A Chassidic Rebbe was once imprisoned and his roommate was a circus performer - a tightrope walker. The Rebbe asked the fellow what the secret was behind his success. The man explained that the key was looking forward, not back, and not to the sides. As long as he moved evenly forward without being distracted by other directions, he did not fall. The Rebbe later said that it was to learn this life lesson that he had needed to be in that jail at that time.
Rabbi Weinberger ends his comments on this pasuk observing that we read these lines imploring the remembrance of Amalek twice annually - before Pesach and before Rosh HaShana (this parsha ). As Pesach approaches, the world is experiencing the joyous rebirth of spring, and we are celebrating our freedom and our nation’s birth. At this time we must be wary of Amalek, lest we carry our elation too far. And now fall with its looming darkness and deterioration approaches, along with our days of awe and the judgement of all. At this time we must work to not allow our Amalek to drag us into despair.
May we be blessed with a meaningful Shabbos and Ellul. Ketivah Vechatimah Tovah.