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The liberation from Egypt and Amalek

bidussaBy David Bidussa

Jewish memory has defined two paradigms of the danger of annihilation and the defeat of the annihilator. Both are in Shemot a few chapters away. The first is the liberation from Egypt; the second the episode of Amalek. The first entered the civil calendar with a history of liberation. The second one does not have a date and has become a concept. The first is a place of Remembrance (it has a festival, a ritual, a text, a practice). The second is a metaphor, which does not have a date, which is encountered, as is said “generation after generation” [Ex., 17,16]. In any case, the victory over Amalek has not become a holiday. Why? I try to answer myself like in this way: if it is possible to have an understanding of the arch only by describing each stone, as Marco Polo does to Kublai Khan (in “The Invisible Cities” of Calvin), so we can recount the liberation with a ritual but then only by meeting with Amalek in every generation we can get to an idea of ourselves.

*David Bidussa is a historian of social ideas.