Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Parshas Zachor - The Mitzvah to Wipe out Amalek Every Generation: Who is Amalek?

This week is "Parshas Zachor" - the second of the four special Torah readings, it deals with the obligation of every Jew to wipe out Amalek in every generation:

"Remember that which Amalek did to you on the path at the time that you left Egypt. That he met you on the path and he attacked all of those who were lagging behind you and you were tired and weary and [Amalek] did not fear G-d. And it shall be when HaShem, your G-d, will give you rest from all of your surrounding enemies, in the Land which HaShem, your G-d, has given you as a portion to inherit you shall wipe out the memory of Amalek from below the Heaven, do not forget." (Divarim: 25: 17 - 19)

This year, Purim falls out the day after we read "Parshas Zachor". In the special Torah reading on Purim, we read as follows:

"...For you shall surely destroy the memory of Amalek from below the Heaven... And [Moshe] said, for a hand is upon the Throne of HaShem, a war for HaShem against Amalek from generation to generation." (Parshas Bishalach: Shmos: 17; 14, 16)

On this week's special haftorah for Parshas Zachor, the Malbi"m comments on the five unique aspects of Amalek that set them aside from all other nations. In the haftorah, we read of HaShem's command to King Shaul to completely wipe out the nation of Amalek and destroy all of their animals, as well as to destroy all of their property. Shaul did not properly follow the command of HaShem and left Agag alive, as well as sparing some of the animals. For this sin, HaShem determined that Shaul would lose the kingship and would be replaced by David, "your fellow who is better than you". (Shmuel I: 15; 2 - 34)

The Malbi"m explains that the differences between Amalek and other nations are as follows:

1) Nations often fight against other countries in order to conquer a country. However, Amalek attacked the Jewish People when they were merely on the path, not for territorial gain.

2) A nation may fight a war out of fear of an approaching nation that may be posing it danger. However, the Jewish People were distant from Amalek's land, having just left Egypt.

3) Due to quarrel or enmity. However, Amalek just "happened" upon the Jewish People "on the path", without any previous contact.

4) In order to demonstate a nation's might, they may decide to fight against another nation. However, Amalek attacked all of the those stragglers who were tired and weary.

5) The religious belief that G-d wishes to wipe out a nation due to their lack of belief in the religion and G-d. However, this didn't apply, for Amalek "did not fear G-d".

However, in truth, it was due to Amalek's denial of HaShem and their wish to show that HaShem is not capable of bringing the Jewish People into the Land of Israel, and their declared war against HaShem that led them to attack the Jewish People, they being HaShem's Chosen Nation.

The commentator, Sforno, when discussing the Torah portion related to the destruction of Amalek in the end of Parshas Bishalach, quotes the gemara in maseches Sanhedrin (20b), which teaches that, upon entering The Land of Israel, the Jewish People were commanded concerning three things: 1) The appointment of a king, 2) The destruction of Amalek, and 3) To build the Beis HaMikdash.

Yonasan ben Uziel comments that Amalek is to be destroyed from "the generation of the world, from the generation of Mashiach, and from the generation of The World to Come."

We read in the haggadah every year about the nations which rise up every generation, unsuccessfully seeking the destruction of the Jewish Nation. "Rather, in every generation they rise up over us to annihilate us. And The Holy One, Blessed is He, saves us from their hands."

It is interesting to note that in the Haggadah of the Tashbeitz, he mentions the Persians as one of the nations which have risen up against the Nation of Israel in the past. Today, of all the nations, Iran (Persia) is the nation which is the most outspoken in their desire to destroy Israel. However, HaShem will save us from their hands and if they try to attack Israel, chas v'shalom, they will be the one's who are assured of loss.

Concerning these types of nations which seek to annihilate us, we read from Psalms and from Eichah, as follows:

"Pour out Your anger against the nations who do not know You and upon the kingdoms who do not call out in Your Name. For they have consumed Ya'akov and have laid his
Beis HaMikdash in waste." (Tehillim: 79; 6 - 7) "Pour out Your wrath upon them and [allow] Your outward anger overtake them." (Tehillim: 69; 25) "Pursue them with wrath and destroy them from below the Heaven of HaShem." (Eichah: 3; 66)

The third pasuk quoted above from sefer "Tehillim" is interesting. The RaDa"K comments that
HaShem's Anger overtaking these evildoers occurs in a manner in which they are unable to flee from that anger. Furthermore, the term "pour" could refer to water. The pasuk immediately following is interesting in this context: "Their large buildings shall become desolate, in their tents there will not be a dweller." (Tehillim: 69; 26 - based on MaLBI"M) In addition, it is interesting that David, in this chapter of Tehillim, prays to HaShem to save him from from the depths of the water and from the destructive, quickly flowing waters and asks HaShem to "Save me from mire and I shall not drown, save me from my enemies and from the deep waters." (Tehillim: 69; 15) Thus, David is asking HaShem to save him from two things which can threaten the safety and well-being of a person - destructive waters and his enemies.

We ask HaShem, that just as those who are evildoers are compared to destructive water, midah k'neged midah - measure for measure, that, iy"H, they be punished with a destructive type of water, while those who are good, should, in contrast, iy"H, benefit from waters of blessing.Amein! Click on this paragraph for a further discussion of waters of blessing and of punishment, largely in the context of the salvation of the Jewish People and, l'havdil, destruction of the Egyptian army during the K'rias Yam Suf (Splitting of the Sea of Reeds).


Nowadays, there is a group of people who live in the Land of Israel and have, on the most part, been bred to live a life of death. These people murder Jews because they are Jews. They attack the defenseless, attack a Nation who believes in HaShem, they attack a Nation which is known for its military might, thus with no realistic hope of overcoming them. The Jewish Nation has time and again reached out to these people to offer them peace and Land, but, in exchange, have been the victim of violent terrorist attacks. They know that the Jewish People are a peaceful Nation and, therefore, do not fear their presence in the Land of Israel. This sounds just like the five characteristics of Amalek, described above. This also sounds like the current-day "Pilishtim", for the most part.

Interestingly enough, we read of the following description of the "Pilishtim" in sefer "Yichezkhel" (25, 15 - 17):

"So says HaShem Elokim, because the Pilishtim acted with revenge, and they took revenge with contempt of the soul, to destroy with eternal enmity: Therefore, so says HaShem Elokim, behold, I am stretching My Hand upon the Philishtim, and I am cutting off (V'hicrati) the Kereisim, and I am Destroying the remnant of the seashore: And I Shall do in their midst great acts of Revenge with Rebukes of Anger, and they shall know that I am HaShem when I Place My Revenge in their midst:"

Yechezkhel's description of the Pilishtim - "contempt of soul" and "eternal enmity" directed against the Jewish People, certainly bears resemblance to the description of Amalek's inbred hatred of the Jewish People.

The above description of the punishment of the Pilishtim may be referring to a future event directed against them, ostensibly a tsunami. For a related discussion click here.

Whoever Amalek truly is, in advance of this Shabbos Parshas "Zachor", we ask HaShem to help us rid the world of Amalek and thus bring about true peace. Amein!

[Posted 12:09]