Latest update: January 27th, 2013
Rav Hirsch continues, “It is not Amalek who is so pernicious for the moral future of mankind but zecher Amalek, the glorifying of the memory of Amalek which is the danger.” He explains that as long as mankind glorifies those who accomplish their objectives through violence and force Amalek will endure. Only when the divine laws become the sole criterion for the worth of man and society will Amalek finally be vanquished. Only when there is no longer any trace of his nefarious agenda, i.e. his memory is blotted out, will Amalek himself cease to exist.
Klal Yisroel is involved in a perpetual war with Amalek. “Amalek’s greatness lies in ‘destruction.’ Israel’s mission is ‘building,’ the peaceful human building everything earthly up to G-d.” One of the great lessons of the commandment to blot out the memory of Amalek, while at the same time remembering the havoc that he wrought, is to realize that “building” will at times require battle. Our mission to be the nation of builders entails that we be prepared for combat to defend our cause. The war may be fought with an unconventional arsenal of weapons, but it is a war nonetheless.
On September 30, 1938 English Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain signed the Munich Pact with Adolph Hitler. The pact, part of the Allies’ efforts at appeasement, granted Hitler the Sudetenland. When he returned to England, Chamberlain addressed throngs of cheering crowds. He concluded his address with haunting words: “My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honor. I believe it is peace for our time… Go home and get a nice quiet sleep.”
The Amalek of our time is as virulent and enmity-filled as ever, but there are many who refuse to see it. We simply have a hard time believing the extent of the evilness of Amalek. How much blood has been spilled trying to pacify and appease Amalekites who have never had intentions of making peace?
Judaism is not a “religion of love”; Judaism is a religion of G-d and fulfillment of the Divine Will. The wisest of men stated,“There is a time to love and a time to hate”. Our mission is to spread holiness and to wage war against those who seek to destroy it.
In the late 1960s during the era of hippies, flower children, and free love, Rav Shlomo Freifeld zt’l told a self-proclaimed “lover of humanity” that he was paying lip service to an ideal that he didn’t really believe in. He continued with a powerful thought: “You say that you are in love with everything. But if nothing makes you angry, then you don’t really love. If you don’t hate you can’t love! Ohavei Hashem sinu rah – those who love G-d abhor evil!”
When someone loves someone passionately he wants to honor and glorify that person as much as possible. If someone dedicates himself to defaming the person he loves, he will inevitably feel disdain for that person. If he doesn’t, his love was not genuine.
Our battle against Amalek has not yet reached its resolution. It serves as a reminder of the capability of man to descend into a state of human beastliness. We maintain our enmity for Amalek, not merely for our own welfare, but because Amalek has dedicated himself to the desecration of all that is holy and Divine. As the years pass Amalek may wear different masks, but his mission has never changed.
Our sages warn that one who has inappropriate mercy for an evil person will end up suffering for it. This was demonstrated quite clearly in the time of Shaul HaMelech. Shaul had been instructed by Shmuel HaNavi to destroy all of Amalek, including all women, children, and animals. Out of compassion Shaul spared the sheep. Shaul did not realize that the Amalekite King, Agag, had magically transformed himself into a sheep and thus escaped the sword. From Agag came Haman, the villain of the Purim story.
About the Author: Rabbi Dani Staum, LMSW is the Rabbi of Kehillat New Hempstead, as well as Guidance Counselor and fifth grade Rebbe in ASHAR, and Principal at Mesivta Ohr Naftoli of New Windsor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit him on the web at www.stamtorah.info.
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