Close your eyes, breathe in deeply, now exhale slowly… That was easy, wasn’t it? Not for everyone…
Yet the Rambam appears to hold that it is permissible to receive a convert from the nation of Amalek, for, as the he explains in Mishneh Torah, any nation that converts, taking upon itself all the mitzvot of the Torah, becomes just like Israel – except for Ammon, Moab, Mitzrayim, and Edom. (Though these nations can convert, restrictions are placed on them when it comes to marrying Jewish women.)
In this light it is important to note that we are taught in the Talmud (Gittin 57b) that “the grandchildren of Haman the wicked taught Torah in [the city of] Bnei-Brak.”
In other words, it appears the grandchildren of Haman converted and even became leading disseminators of Torah.
There are those who explain that this was a case where a Torah court, not in keeping with Jewish law, accepted these Amalekite converts – but that once they were accepted their conversions became completely valid and from them came leading disseminators of Torah.
Another explanation is that an Amalekite raped a Jewish woman, and she gave birth to a child who, because his mother was Jewish, was considered Jewish. This opinion does not view the story of Haman’s grandchildren as proof that Amalekites may convert.
Still another possibility is that we are dealing with an Amalekite who took on himself the seven mitzvot of Noah’s sons, leaving his people and joining another. After becoming integrated into this other nation, one of his children decided to convert to Judaism, and from him came leading disseminators of Torah.
In any case, it is imperative that all Jews take the opportunity this week to “remember that which Amalek did to you….”
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 email@example.com.
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