web analytics
November 22, 2014 / 29 Heshvan, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
IDC Herzliya Campus A Day on Campus

To mark IDC Herzliya’s 20th anniversary, we spent a day following Prof. Uriel Reichman, IDC’s founder and president, and Jonathan Davis, VP for External Relations, around its delightful campus.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

What You Need To Know About Amalek


In reading Parshat Zachor (Deut. 25:17-19) we fulfill the commandment to remember what the nation of Amalek did to us. The sages instituted its reading just before Purim in order to link this mitzvah to the feast day on which we celebrate the blotting out of Haman, who was of Amalekite genealogy.

In order to better understand both our relationship with the nation of Amalek and the great importance the Torah places on the remembrance of this nation’s evil acts, we must take note of the fact that there are three explicit Torah commandments dealing with Amalek.

The first commandment is to “Remember that which Amalek did to you on the way, while you were leaving Egypt” (Deut. 25:17). In addition to being commanded to remember what they did to us, we are commanded not to forget, as it is written: “Do not forget” (ibid. 19). Lastly, there is a positive mitzvah to obliterate the entire nation of Amalek from the world, as it is written, “And when God allows you to rest from all of your surrounding enemies, in the land which the Lord your God has given you as an inheritance to possess, obliterate all memory of Amalek from under the sky” (ibid.).

Since the reading of Parshat Zachor is a Torah-based commandment, great care is taken that it be read with exactness and incantation from a choice Torah scroll. It is preferable that each individual hear it in the incantation and pronunciation of his own family’s custom. But even if one hears it in a different incantation and pronunciation, he has fulfilled his obligation.

(There are conflicting opinions as to whether or not women are obligated to hear Parshat Zachor. Most authorities rule they need not hear it. Still, it is preferable they hear it, or at least read it to themselves.)

What did Amalek do to cause the Torah to take such an extreme stand, commanding us to “obliterate all memory of Amalek from under the sky”?

Amalek was the first anti-Semite. The nation of Israel has a problem in this world. It appears the faith-related and ideological message of the Jews causes the evil people of the world to attack us.

This is not the place for an in-depth examination of the motives of anti-Semites throughout history, yet one thing is certain: There has never been a nation in the world so hunted down as the nation of Israel. Ink and paper would run out before all the stories of evil done to our people by the nations could be told.

And all of this began with Amalek. At the very birth of our nation, while we were leaving Egypt and even before we had an opportunity to organize and unify ourselves, Amalek came and attacked us for no cause or reason.

Amalek is a nation that, by its very existence, gives expression to hatred of the people of Israel, and, in turn, to hatred of the Torah and of the idea of perfecting the world through God’s kingship. Therefore, the Torah commands us to wipe that nation out.

But while the Torah commands us to obliterate the nation of Amalek, once an individual Amalekite decides to take upon himself the fulfillment of the seven mitzvot of Noah’s sons, there is, according to Jewish law, no longer an obligation to kill him. The Rambam writes that it is forbidden to declare war on anybody without first attempting to settle things peacefully; if an adversary agrees to our peace terms – the main condition of which is the adversary’s acceptance of the seven mitzvot of Noah’s sons – then we are forbidden to attack.

That is, the obligation to kill the Amalekites only applies when they refuse to accept the fundamental mitzvot the Torah places upon the children of Noah: not to worship idols, not to commit adultery or incest, not to murder, not to steal, not to curse God, not to eat flesh from a living animal, and to establish courts of justice to rule ethically and justly. When an Amalekite takes these mitzvot upon himself, he is no longer considered an Amalekite but rather a son of Noah.

There are conflicting opinions among Torah authorities regarding the question of Amalekite conversion to Judaism. In the Mechilta, Rabbi Eliezer teaches that God swore by his Throne of Glory that if an Amalekite should come to convert, he would not be accepted.

About the Author: Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, a leader of Israel’s religious-Zionist community, is dean of Yeshiva Har Bracha and a prolific author on Jewish Law. His books “The Laws of Prayer,” “The Laws of Passover” and “Nation, Land, Army” are being translated into English. He can be contacted at yonaton@yhb.org.il.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “What You Need To Know About Amalek”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Colleagues of the hanged Arab bus driver whose death continues to be referred to as murder despite autopsy finding of suicide. These are Arab drivers of Egged buses, claiming they suffer discrimination by Israelis.
Arab Pathologist Singing New Tune: Murder (By Jews) Not Suicide
Latest Indepth Stories
Dalia Lemkos, HY"D Is this the image you think of when you hear the word "settler?"

The “Media” didn’t want us to know what a kind, giving, loving young woman Dalia was.

A “Palestine” could become another Lebanon, with many different factions battling for control.

Temple_Mount_aerial_from_south_tb_q010703bsr-300x225

Maimonides himself walked and prayed in the permissible areas when he visited Eretz Yisrael in 1165

voting

Having a strong community presence at the polls shows our elected officials we care about the issues

Israel’s Temple Mount policy prefers to blames the Jews-not the attackers-for the crisis.

When Islam conquered the Holy Land, it made its capital in Ramle of all places, not in Jerusalem.

I joined the large crowd but this time it was more personal; my cousin Aryeh was one of the victims.

Terrorists aren’t driven by social, economic, or other grievances, rather by a fanatical worldview.

The phrase that the “Arabs are resorting to violence” is disgraceful and blames the victim.

Tuesday, Yom Shlishi, a doubly good day in the Torah, Esav’s hands tried to silence Yaakov’s voice.

Because of the disparate nature of the perpetrators, who are also relatively young, and given the lack of more traditional targets and the reverence Palestinians have for their homes, one now hears talk of Israel returning to a policy of destroying the houses of terrorists’ families.

In any event, the Constitution gives Congress what is popularly described as the “power of the purse” – that is, the power to raise revenues through taxation and to decide how the money should be sent.

It is difficult to write about such a holy person, for I fear I will not accurately portray his greatness…

There was much to learn from Judge Kramer and the examples he set remains a source of inspiration and a resource from which to learn. He was and remains a great role model.

More Articles from Rabbi Eliezer Melamed
Hamas leader Ismail Haniya speaking with Arab security officers, before giving a speech on the first day of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.

Islam’s approach to God extends to all interpersonal relationships, which are based on honor.

In recent times we have witnessed increasing support for Israel on the part of evangelical Christians. They view the establishment of the State of Israel as the miraculous fulfillment of the vision of the biblical prophets.

The recent appalling murders in Itamar shocked everyone – not just settlers but every Jew without exception, because it wasn’t the Fogel family alone whom the enemy wished to murder, but rather each and every one of us.

We are told that “a soldier must have a commander, and it isn’t a rabbi.” The defense minister of Israel accuses us – this writer and other Hesder rabbis – of “destabilizing the foundations of Israeli democracy, inciting toward insubordination, damaging the spirit of the Israel Defense Forces,” adding, “there is no room for such things in a civilized state.”

Once again, Israeli leftists, with assistance from the media, are composing songs, lighting candles and organizing dances around a new golden calf. This time it is the demand to do “everything possible” to bring home the captured soldier Gilad Shalit.

In reading Parshat Zachor (Deut. 25:17-19) we fulfill the commandment to remember what the nation of Amalek did to us. The sages instituted its reading just before Purim in order to link this mitzvah to the feast day on which we celebrate the blotting out of Haman, who was of Amalekite genealogy.

Rabbi Avraham Isaac HaCohen Kook (1865-1935) was an extraordinary Torah giant. His genius was astounding – there was no field of Torah study he had not mastered. His recall was astonishing – great scholars related that no matter what Torah subject they discussed with him it would appear as if he had just recently learned the issue in depth.

With the arrival of the new year, we must stop to reflect upon our deeds in order to pave the way for self-improvement. The current crisis here in Israel indicates that there is a serious problem. By drawing the necessary conclusions now, we can emerge from these difficulties into the light of solace and salvation.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/what-you-need-to-know-about-amalek/2009/03/04/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: