The “Men of the Great Assembly” ruled that the portion1 “Remember what Amalek did to you on the way as you came out of Egypt... you shall blot out the memory of Amalek” is to be publicly read on the Shabbos that precedes Purim.2

Although the Torah commands us to remember any number of seemingly more important things, including the Exodus,3 the giving of the Torah,4 the day of Shabbos,5 etc., only the remembrance of Amalek is singled out for a public Torah reading. Why is “Remembering what Amalek did to you” of such vital importance?

Amalek, who had just witnessed the numerous miracles G‑d performed on behalf of the Jewish people and who nevertheless went to war against them, exemplifies the individual who “knows his Creator and is intent on rebelling against Him.”6

In terms of man’s spiritual service, this means7 that a Jew must ensure that within himself there is no room for “Amalek,” even on a subtle level:

It is possible that, within our hearts, there resides an “Amalek” who endeavors to get us to rebel — heaven forbid! — against G‑d. When one assiduously remembers the harm that can come from such an “Amalek,” one can rest assured that all such “Amalekian” tendencies will be successfully eradicated.

This is why remembering Amalek is the only remembrance requiring a special Torah reading: Torah is master of the world;8 associating the remembrance of Amalek with a special Torah reading makes possible a level of remembrance that will eradicate “Amalek” from the person’s soul.9

Although it is difficult to imagine that the crass form of Amalek — “He knows his Creator and is intent on rebelling against Him” — could exist within a Jew, a more subtle form may be found.

What is this more subtle form of Amalek that we are commanded to guard against?

The more subtle Amalek10 is not all that bothered by a Jew’s knowledge of G‑dliness and Torah; on the contrary, Amalek himself is regarded as possessing knowledge of G‑d: “He knows his Creator.” What Amalek rebels against is the translation of this knowledge into love and fear of G‑d in thought, speech and deed, i.e., leading a life based on Torah and mitzvos.

This subtle Amalek is an even greater rebel than an Amalek who is an ignoramus. Knowing G‑d — understanding how one is to feel about Him and behave with respect to Him — and nevertheless rebelling against the translation of this knowledge into feelings and action involves a truly vehement rebellion against G‑d.

On an even subtler level, knowing the Creator and being intent on rebelling against Him does not only mean that one’s knowledge does not lead to any positive feelings or actions; it also means that one’s knowledge of Torah and G‑dliness is not translated into feelings and deeds that are commensurate with one’s knowledge.

This “refined Amalek” must be eliminated from within each of us, for it is quite possible that whatever one’s spiritual station in life, one’s feelings and actions relating to G‑d will not live up to what one’s knowledge is of Him.11

This also explains why the battle with Amalek took place so soon after the Exodus, before the Jewish people received the Torah. For in a spiritual sense, Amalek seeks to deny G‑d’s granting us the Torah.

By granting us the Torah in this world, G‑d demonstrated that the ultimate purpose of Torah is not found in a rarefied heavenly atmosphere, far removed from the world of action; rather, it is the Torah’s impact on our daily conduct that is of primary import.12

Amalek sought to keep the Torah from affecting one’s deeds. Thus, remembering and obliterating Amalek consists of always translating our knowledge of Torah and G‑dliness into practical feelings and actions.

Based on Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXI, pp. 190-196.