Several successful people have the same thing for lunch every day and perhaps even consider it a factor in their success. Eating the same lunch every day has some positive attributes like regularity and discipline (assuming the lunch choice is healthy). On the other hand, we might think of someone who eats the same thing every day as boring or lacking creativity.
In Judaism, regularity can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, someone who goes to Synagogue, puts on tefillin, has a daily schedule for Torah learning or performs any mitzvah consistently is undoubtedly praiseworthy. On the other hand, regularity can lead to rote. For example, do we put on tefillin with the same enthusiasm as someone who never put them on before?
The Talmud in Megillah 18a comments:
זכור יכול בלב כשהוא אומר לא תשכח הרי שכחת הלב אמור הא מה אני מקיים זכור בפה.
Where do we know that “Zachor,” the remembrance of Amalek, involves reading the Torah portion aloud? Perhaps it requires merely reading it silently. The Talmud answers: Since it says subsequently: “You shall not forget” (Deuteronomy 25:19), what then is the meaning of “Zachor”-“remember”? Instead, it means that the remembrance must be expressed with the mouth.
Rav Yaakov Moshe Charlop notes that it is unusual that there should be a mitzvah not to forget Amalek in one’s heart. What does the heart have to do with the memory? He suggests that, in reality, every time we perform a mitzvah, we should be even more excited to do it the next time. Energy and inspiration come with observance of mitzvot which should propel us to want more each time we perform them. Amalek introduced to Am Yisrael the concept that mitzvot aren’t acts of holiness, but can be viewed as natural activities, part of our daily routine. “אשר קרך בדרך,” (from the word קר) – Amalek cooled down the energy that comes from mitzvah observance. As such, it is a constant struggle to infuse our daily mitzvot with inspiration and holiness. That is what is meant by “שכחת הלב,” forgetting in one’s heart. We can’t forget to put our hearts into mitzvah observance. It’s not enough to perform the mitzvot. We need to do so with enthusiasm, which is a fulfillment of the mitzvah to remember Amalek.
If our mitzvah observance becomes part of our daily routine – praying at the same time each day, eating the same sandwich, wearing the same clothes etc., we should be proud of our regularity and discipline. However, the critique of those who eat the same lunch every day, that they lack creativity should be taken more seriously regarding mitzvah observance. Our goal should be to try to harness our creative energy so that the daily mitzvot we perform tomorrow are (at least) as exciting to us as freshly baked hamantaschen are to someone who has never eaten anything other than a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
This Shabbat, we will be fulfilling the Torah obligation of reading the portion, remembering what Amalek did to us when we came out of Egypt. I look forward to seeing you on Shabbat for this important mitzvah and for a delightful Megillah reading with festivities for the whole family on Purim – Monday at 6:45 pm and Tuesday at 7 am.
Shabbat Shalom & Purim Sameach,
Rabbi Shlomo Gabay
Parshat Tetzaveh/Shabbat Zachor – Eating the same lunch every day