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Parashat Ki Tetzei: A Love that Lasts

Have you ever experienced loving in an irrational way? I mean those loves that burst into your life and take over your body, your soul, and carry you away. Those loves, according to the Mishnah, are loves that last; not like the loves that have some kind of reason or conditioning. The loves in which for some reason one feels attracted, and time or some event passes, and the cause that motivated that supposed love vanishes. And then the love ends.


This is how it happened, as in the last example, with Amnon, the son of King David, and Tamar. Amnon loved Tamar terribly, but he loved her because it was a forbidden love; she was his half-sister. And the Mishnah compares that love with that of David and Jonathan, which was unconditional and huge and enduring. The same goes for hatred.


Our Torah portion this week brings us that famous passage:


"Remember what Amalek did to you, remember and blot out Amalek from history, blot out the people of Amalek."


What's the difference between Amalek, the Amalekite people, for example, and the people of Egypt, the Egyptians?


It says precisely also in Deuteronomy that we have to somehow forgive them, or that we must forgive them after four generations. And that we should always remember that we too were slaves and foreigners in Egypt, and that if they are foreigners in our land, we must welcome them. The malignant Amalek is not forgiven.


The point is that Egypt perhaps had some incomprehensible reason for us, but it had some motive to enslave the people of Israel, a utilitarian motive, a motive of hatred, a motive of wealth. It had some motive. And that motive is similar to the love of Amnon and Tamar; with time, it fades away. However, Amalek had no motive. Perhaps it was envy, perhaps it was fear, whatever it was. But it came from behind, where all the weak were, and attacked the people of Israel. That's what is not forgiven.


Perhaps in each of our relationships, we have to see and measure what we are putting at stake. Whether we set some condition to become enemies or something unconditional to love a person, or if our feeling is truly pure and unconditional. When it's for love, it's perfect not to have conditions. When it's for hatred, seek what the motive is, what leads to hate or enmity. Of course, we have to work on it, because when time passes and it fades away, perhaps that enmity may turn into love.


We have just begun the month of Elul, the month of reviewing our actions and our connections with those around us. Let's encourage that unconditional love and let hatred have a cause, a motive, and over time... fade away.


Shabbat Shalom,


Rabbi Gustavo Geier

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