By Rabbi Shloime Lindenbaum
The Baal Haturim points out in the beginning of this week’s פרשה that Moshe’s name is not found at all in our פרשה. He explains that after Klal Yisroel sinned with the Golden Calf, Moshe asked Hashem that if He does not forgive them then Moshe’s name should be erased from the Torah. R’ Gedaliah Schorr explains that Moshe was not being punished because of his harsh bargaining with Hashem. Rather, when Moshe asked to be erased from the Torah unless Hashem forgives the Jews, he was displaying tremendous self-sacrifice on behalf of the Jewish nation. He reached such a high level through this selfless act that it was almost as if his essence disappeared in his disregard for his own needs. One of the things that separate us from Hashem is when we think too much of ourselves, and therefore by Moshe completely removing his own self interests he reached a much greater level of attachment to Hashem. A person’s name represents his essence. To express the utter nullification of Moshe’s essence for the needs of Klal Yisroel, the פרשה omits his name, thereby praising Moshe tremendously for his self-sacrifice and greater attachment to Hashem.
כי יד על כס קה מלחמה לה’ בעמלק מדר דר (בשלח פרק יז פסוק טז)
We are commanded to remember that which עמלק did to us after leaving Egypt, to forever hate them and eventually take revenge by wiping them out. This seems to be a strange מצוה- after all we are usually encouraged to forgive and forget, and yet here we are specifically commanded to forever hate an entire nation? R’ Ahron Kotler explains that our war with עמלק isn’t absolving a personal vendetta, rather the תורה tells us that as long as עמלק exists, the true glory of Hashem is hidden. The world cannot fully appreciate Hashem’s greatness and honor while the evil of עמלק impacts society. The goal, therefore, to remember and destroy the nation of עמלק is so that the world can attain it’s ultimate mission of expressing Hashem’s honor. This is how we can understand a מצוה to hate and obliterate עמלק.