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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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.
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