Remember and Do Not Forget
By Rabbi Dr. Hillel ben David (Greg Killian)
On the Shabbat before Purim, two Torah scrolls are taken from the ark; one for the regular Parasha and one for the Maftir. The Maftir commands us to ‘Remember what Amalek (עמלק) did to you’. Because of this reading, it is called, Shabbat Zakhor (Remember). The Haftarah also deals with Amalek.
Whenever something is “written in a book”, it is done so with the idea that the issue needs to be remembered.
The readings, relative to Amalek, for Shabbat Zakhor are:
Devarim (Deuteronomy) 25:17-19
Devarim (Deuteronomy) 24:19 25:19
Shmuel alef (1 Samuel) 15:1-34
Devarim (Deuteronomy) 25:19 Therefore it shall be, when HaShem thy God hath given thee rest from all thine enemies round about, in the land which HaShem thy God giveth thee [for] an inheritance to possess it, [that] thou shalt blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven; thou shalt not forget [it].
Devarim (Deuteronomy) 25:17 Remember what Amalek did unto thee by the way, when ye were come forth out of Egypt;
Devarim (Deuteronomy) 25:19 Therefore it shall be, when HaShem thy God hath given thee rest from all thine enemies round about, in the land which HaShem thy God giveth thee [for] an inheritance to possess it, [that] thou shalt blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven; thou shalt not forget [it].
Since we have three mitzvot relative to the destruction of Amalek, it is important that we have a good understanding of our opponent and of his nefarious deeds. Armed with this knowledge we will be positioned to fulfill these mitzvot at the appropriate times.
Devarim (Deuteronomy) 25:17-19 Remember what Amalek did unto thee by the way, when ye were come forth out of Egypt; How he encountered you by the way, and smote the hindmost of thee, [even] all [that were] feeble behind thee, when thou [wast] faint and weary; and he feared not God. Therefore it shall be, when HaShem thy God hath given thee rest from all thine enemies round about, in the land which HaShem thy God giveth thee [for] an inheritance to possess it, [that] thou shalt blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven; thou shalt not forget [it].
The Torah shows us that עמלק, Amalek, is intimately associated with evil in this world. We will see that Amalek really does represent evil. When Amalek is eliminated, so too is evil.
Amalek, and therefore evil, will be with us until Mashiach finally destroys it. Our Sages teach us that “In every generation Amalek rises to destroy us, and each time he clothes himself in a different nation”.
The ways of Amalek, in every generation, are always the same and they provide the clue that we are fighting Amalek. The Midrash provides an intriguing insight into the methodology of Amalek, which helps us to understand the mitzvot to remember and not forget. The Hebrew word Karcha, encountered you, also translates cooled you off. Thus the Midrash says:
Midrash Tanchuma What is the incident (of Amalek) comparable to? To a boiling tub of water which no creature was able to enter. Along came one evil-doer and jumped into it. Although he was burned, he cooled it for the others. So, too, when Israel came out of Egypt, and HaShem rent the sea before them and drowned the Egyptians within it, the fear of them fell upon all the nations. But when Amalek came and challenged them, although he received his due from them, he cooled the awe of them for the nations of the world.
1. Conventional war is fought in order to protect one’s territory from a belligerent nation. Amalek’s territorial integrity was not being threatened by the exodus of the Jews from Egypt. Why then did they have to initiate a war against them?
2. When winds of war loom on the horizon of any society, it is most common that the aggressor will announce his intentions to go to war. Here, Amalek didn’t at all announce its intentions to attack.
4. For some absurd reason Amalek feared the Jews. Remember, though, that these were tired slaves, awed by their sudden reversal of fate, but weary nonetheless. These Jews cast fear over the camp of Amalekites. But HaShem, the great warrior on behalf of the Jews, they did not fear. How come? Abarbanel accordingly concludes: The utter absurdity of this attack when measured against conventional war for all times marked Amalek as the target of annihilation by the Jewish people. Indeed, this is HaShem’s personal war also.
The Rambam, in Sefer Hachinuch, teaches us that the penalty for theft is greater if we steal when the owner is not around. This greater penalty is levied because it shows that we do not fear HaShem, but we do fear the owner. Thus we must conclude that Amalek’s penalty will be greater than those enemies who fear HaShem.
Bereshit (Genesis) 36:8-16 Thus dwelt Esau in mount Seir: Esau [is] Edom. And these [are] the generations of Esau the father of the Edomites in mount Seir: These [are] the names of Esau’s sons; Eliphaz the son of Adah the wife of Esau, Reuel the son of Bashemath the wife of Esau. And the sons of Eliphaz were Teman, Omar, Zepho, and Gatam, and Kenaz. And Timna was concubine to Eliphaz Esau’s son; and she bare to Eliphaz Amalek: these [were] the sons of Adah Esau’s wife. And these [are] the sons of Reuel; Nahath, and Zerah, Shammah, and Mizzah: these were the sons of Bashemath Esau’s wife. And these were the sons of Aholibamah, the daughter of Anah the daughter of Zibeon, Esau’s wife: and she bare to Esau Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah. These [were] dukes of the sons of Esau: the sons of Eliphaz the firstborn [son] of Esau; duke Teman, duke Omar, duke Zepho, duke Kenaz, Duke Korah, duke Gatam, [and] duke Amalek: these [are] the dukes [that came] of Eliphaz in the land of Edom; these [were] the sons of Adah.
The progeny of Amalek are the archetypal enemy of the Jewish People. Their very existence is diametrically opposed to the Torah. The Sages describe the people of Amalek as being the essence of all the evil in the world.
Bereshit (Genesis) 27:41-42 And Esau hated Yaakov because of the blessing wherewith his father blessed him: and Esau said in his heart, The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then will I slay my brother Yaakov. And these words of Esau her elder son were told to Rebekah: and she sent and called Yaakov her younger son, and said unto him, Behold, thy brother Esau, as touching thee, doth comfort himself, [purposing] to kill thee.
Iyov (Job) 42:7 And it was [so], that after HaShem had spoken these words unto Job, HaShem said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me [the thing that is] right, as my servant Job [hath].
Eliphaz was Esau’s son. According to the Midrash (quoted by Rashi in Bereshit 29:11) he was bidden by his father to pursue Yaakov and slay him. Owing, however, to the influence of the teachings of Isaac, which he had imbibed, he forbore to do this, and as a compromise, in order not to disobey his father wholly, he deprived Yaakov of all his possessions, because a man without possessions is reckoned as dead.
Thus we see that Esau, Eliphaz, and Amalek all want to kill Yaakov. Amalek is following in his father’s footsteps. Amalek comes from an infamous family line. This family also had some royal blood, as we see from the Talmud:
Sanhedrin 99b A propos, what is the purpose of [writing], And Lotan’s sister was Timna? — Timna was a royal princess, as it is written, alluf [duke] Lotan, alluf [duke] Timna; and by ‘alluf’ an uncrowned ruler is meant. Desiring to become a proselyte, she went to Abraham, Isaac and Yaakov, but they did not accept her. So she went and became a concubine to Eliphaz the son of Esau, saying, ‘I had rather be a servant to this people than a mistress of another nation.’ From her Amalek was descended who afflicted Israel. Why so? — Because they should not have repulsed her.
Midrash Rabbah - Genesis LXXXII:14 AND TIMNA WAS CONCUBINE TO ELIPHAZ ESAU’S SON (XXXVI, 14). R. Simeon b. Yohai taught: What purpose is served by the verse, AND TIMNA WAS CONCUBINE TO ELIPHAZ?-It is to inform us of the greatness of the house of our father Abraham and how royalty wished to become allied [through marriage] to him. For what was Lotan? He was a son of one of the chiefs, as it says, The chief of Lotan, etc. (ibid 29). Now it is written, And Lotan’s sister was Timna (ibid 22), and yet, AND TIMNA WAS CONCUBINE, etc.! She said: Since I am not worthy of being his wife, let me be his handmaid. Now may we not here draw a conclusion a fortiori: If kings ran to cleave to the wicked Esau, who had to his credit but the one pious deed of honouring his father, how much more will they run to cleave to Yaakov, who fulfilled the whole Torah!
The child of Timna was Amalek, the archenemy of the Jewish people. This was not accidental. When a potential convert, with genuine intentions, is distanced from the Jewish people by being made to feel unfit, the consequences for the Jewish people can be disastrous. The same occurred to Orpah. When she was discouraged from joining the ranks of the Jews, her children were given vast powers over the Jewish people. One of these children was Goliath, another was Yishbi; both of them were massive warriors who focused their efforts on fighting against the Jewish people.
Though the name Amalek refers to a nation that actually existed, it also describes a character trait within ourselves. Just as Amalek stood in direct opposition to the Jewish people, the trait symbolized by Amalek defies the very foundations of our divine service.
Devarim (Deuteronomy) 25:17-18 “Remember what Amalek did to you...as you came forth from Egypt, how he encountered you on the way and cut down all the weak who straggled behind you.”
The Midrash explains that the Hebrew word “Karcha” (“he encountered you”) can also be rendered as “he cooled you off”. Amalek represents the cold rationality, which makes us question everything we do or experience.
The Targum Pseudo Yonatan add some insights to the above passage:
Targum Pseudo Yonatan to Devarim 25:17-19 Keep in mind what the house of Amalek did unto you in the way, on your coming up out of Mitzrayim; 18. how they overtook you in the way, and slew every one of those among you who were thinking to go aside from My Word; the men of the tribe of the house of Dan, in whose hands were idols (or things. of strange worship), and the clouds overcast them, and they of the house of Amalek took them and mutilated them, and they were cast up: but you, O house of Israel, were faint and weary from great servitude of the Mizraee, and the terrors of the waves of the sea through the midst of which you had passed. Nor were the house of Amalek afraid before the Lord. [JERUSALEM. Who overtook you in the way, and slew among you those who were thinking to desist from My Word, the cloud overcast him, and they of the house of Amalek took him and slew him. But you, people of the sons of Israel, were weary and faint; nor were they of the house of Amalek afraid before the Lord.] 19. Therefore, when the Lord has given you rest from all your enemies round about in the land that the Lord Your God gives you to inherit for a possession, you will blot out the memory of Amalek from under the heavens; but of the days of the King Messiah you will not be unmindful.
Rashi also lends some insights to this passage:
17 You shall remember what [Amalek] did to you [The juxtaposition of these passages teaches us that] if you use fraudulent measures and weights, you should be worried about provocation from the enemy, as it is said: “Deceitful scales are an abomination of the Lord” (Prov. 11:1), after which the [next] verse continues, “When willful wickedness comes, then comes disgrace.” [That is, after you intentionally sin by using deceitful scales, the enemy will come to provoke you into war, and this will be a disgraceful matter to you].-[Tanchuma 8]
18 how he happened upon you on the way Hebrew קָרְךָ , an expression denoting a chance occurrence (מִקְרֶה). -[Sifrei 25:167] Alternatively, an expression denoting seminal emission (קֶרִי) and defilement, because Amalek defiled the Jews by [committing] homosexual acts [with them].-[Tanchuma 9] Yet another explanation: an expression denoting heat and cold (קוֹר) . He cooled you off and made you [appear] tepid, after you were boiling hot, for the nations were afraid to fight with you, [just as people are afraid to touch something boiling hot]. But this one, [i.e., Amalek] came forward and started and showed the way to others. This can be compared to a bathtub of boiling water into which no living creature could descend. Along came an irresponsible man and jumped headlong into it! Although he scalded himself, he [succeeded to] make others think that it was cooler [than it really was].-[Tanchuma 9]
and cut off [The word וַיְזַנֵּב is derived from the word זָנָב, meaning “tail”. Thus, the verse means: Amalek] “cut off the tail”. This refers to the fact that Amalek cut off the members [of the male Jews,] where they had been circumcised, and cast them up [provocatively] towards Heaven [exclaiming to God: “You see! What good has Your commandment of circumcision done for them?”]-[Tanchuma 9]
all the stragglers at your rear Those who lacked strength on account of their transgression. [And because these Jews had sinned,] the cloud [of glory] had expelled them [thereby leaving them vulnerable to Amalek’s further attack]. -[Tanchuma 10]
you were faint and weary faint from thirst, as it is written, “The people thirsted there for water” (Exod. 17:3), and [immediately] afterwards it says, “Amalek came [and fought with Israel]” (verse 17:8). -[Tanchuma 10]
and weary from the journey. -[Tanchuma 10]
He did not fear [God] i.e., Amalek did not fear God [so as to refrain] from doing you harm.-[Sifrei 25:167]
19 you shall obliterate the remembrance of Amalek Both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep [camel and donkey] (God’s command to King Saul: see I Sam. 15: 3), so that the name of Amalek should never again be mentioned (נִזְכָּר) , from the word (זֵכֶר), even regarding an animal, to say: “This animal was from Amalek”.-[Midrash Lekach Tov]
Amalek, in terms of our spiritual service of HaShem, is symbolic of coldness and apathy for all that is holy. Of Amalek it is said, “He cooled you off”, i.e., the physical Amalek dampened Israel’s eagerness and enthusiasm for the Torah they were about to receive at Sinai following the exodus from Egypt; the spiritual Amalek lurks in the recesses of our hearts. The tikkun (correction) for this trait is Torah study.
Chazal teach that Amalek, the descendant of Esau, will fall by the hand of Rachel’s children. Yehoshua from Ephraim was the first to fight and succeed (partially). King Saul, the descendant of Benyamin, took up the challenge, and Mordechai, the descendant of Benyamin, succeeded against Haman.
The Haftarah for Shabbat Zakhor recalls the war with Amalek during the time of the prophet Shmuel and King Saul. The leader of the Amalekites at that time was King Agag, an ancestor of Haman, who is one of the central characters in the story of Purim.
Shmuel Alef (1 Samuel) 15:1-33 Samuel also said unto Saul, HaShem sent me to anoint thee [to be] king over his people, over Israel: now therefore hearken thou unto the voice of the words of HaShem. Thus saith HaShem of hosts, I remember [that] which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid [wait] for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass. And Saul gathered the people together, and numbered them in Telaim, two hundred thousand footmen, and ten thousand men of Judah. And Saul came to a city of Amalek, and laid wait in the valley. And Saul said unto the Kenites, Go, depart, get you down from among the Amalekites, lest I destroy you with them: for ye showed kindness to all the children of Israel, when they came up out of Egypt. So the Kenites departed from among the Amalekites. And Saul smote the Amalekites from Havilah [until] thou comest to Shur, that [is] over against Egypt. And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword. But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all [that was] good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing [that was] vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly. Then came the word of HaShem unto Samuel, saying, It repenteth me that I have set up Saul [to be] king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments. And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto HaShem all night. And when Samuel rose early to meet Saul in the morning, it was told Samuel, saying, Saul came to Carmel, and, behold, he set him up a place, and is gone about, and passed on, and gone down to Gilgal. And Samuel came to Saul: and Saul said unto him, Blessed [be] thou of HaShem: I have performed the commandment of HaShem. And Samuel said, What [meaneth] then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear? And Saul said, They have brought them from the Amalekites: for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto HaShem thy God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed. Then Samuel said unto Saul, Stay, and I will tell thee what HaShem hath said to me this night. And he said unto him, Say on. And Samuel said, When thou [wast] little in thine own sight, [wast] thou not [made] the head of the tribes of Israel, and HaShem anointed thee king over Israel? And HaShem sent thee on a journey, and said, Go and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, and fight against them until they be consumed. Wherefore then didst thou not obey the voice of HaShem, but didst fly upon the spoil, and didst evil in the sight of HaShem? And Saul said unto Samuel, Yea, I have obeyed the voice of HaShem, and have gone the way which HaShem sent me, and have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice unto HaShem thy God in Gilgal. And Samuel said, Hath HaShem [as great] delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of HaShem? Behold, to obey [is] better than sacrifice, [and] to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion [is as] the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness [is as] iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of HaShem, he hath also rejected thee from [being] king. And Saul said unto Samuel, I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of HaShem, and thy words: because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice. Now therefore, I pray thee, pardon my sin, and turn again with me, that I may worship HaShem. And Samuel said unto Saul, I will not return with thee: for thou hast rejected the word of HaShem, and HaShem hath rejected thee from being king over Israel. And as Samuel turned about to go away, he laid hold upon the skirt of his mantle, and it rent. And Samuel said unto him, HaShem hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to a neighbour of thine, [that is] better than thou. And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for he [is] not a man, that he should repent. Then he said, I have sinned: [yet] honour me now, I pray thee, before the elders of my people, and before Israel, and turn again with me, that I may worship HaShem thy God. So Samuel turned again after Saul; and Saul worshipped HaShem. Then said Samuel, Bring ye hither to me Agag the king of the Amalekites. And Agag came unto him delicately. And Agag said, Surely the bitterness of death is past. And Samuel said, As thy sword hath made women childless, so shall thy mother be childless among women. And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before HaShem in Gilgal.
Mordechai, the hero of Megillat Esther, was a descendant of King Saul and of the same royal house. No wonder he was given the task of destroying Haman, the descendant of Amalek! This incredibly close connection suggest that the reason why Shabbat Zakhor is the Shabbat before Purim, is to drive home that the descendants of Rachel will destroy the descendants of Esau.
By the way, Hakham Shaul was also a Benjamite:
I believe that Hakham’s Shaul and his namesake, His Majesty King Saul (Shaul), had many things in common. King Saul battled physically against Amalek whilst Hakham Shaul used Torah as his weapon to eradicate the evil that is Amalek.
When we are confronted with an enemy who hates us and wants our destruction because we are different, because we remain faithful to HaShem and His Torah no matter what, because we won’t compromise our beliefs, this is when we confront Amalek, no less than did Yehoshua or King Saul or Mordechai.
Amalek: The term may be divided into amal - to toil, and the letter kuf, with the meaning ‘ejection of the life-spirit’ e.g. katal - to kill with removal of life-spirit. So Amalek means ‘becoming dispirited through loss of spirit as a result of hard labour and continuous toil’. Such detachment is negative in nature.
Amalek represents intellectual doubt, the kind that erodes one’s sense of belief that HaShem is running world. This is why the Hebrew word Amalek (in Gematria) has the numeric value of 240, which is equal to the Hebrew word safek, which means doubt.
The Feast of Purim gets its name from the lots that Haman, the Amalekite, used to choose the day of destruction for the Jews. Pur is the Persian word for lots. The Hebrew word for lots is Goral. This is an amazing thing! Haman, like all Amalekites, does not believe that there is a G-d in the world. He thinks that everything occurs by happenstance. Yet we know that the truth is quite different:
Mishlei (Proverbs) 16:33 The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof [is] of HaShem.
It is the Goral, the Pur, that demonstrates most powerfully this Hashgacha Pratis, this providence, of HaShem in every detail of the world’s existence. When a Goral is conducted, one has no input or influence on the outcome of the Goral. Thus Haman’s device to prove there is only happenstance, and that there is no G-d, was in fact proving just the opposite!
In the first encounter we find Amalek attacking the Bne Israel without provocation:
1 Shmuel (Samuel) 15:2 Thus saith HaShem of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. 3 Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.
From these two encounters we can establish a pattern:
Now we can understand why we have a celebration for Purim and for Shushan Purim. Each of these festivals commemorates one aspect of our previous encounters with Amalek. Purim commemorates Amalek’s unprovoked attack on the Bne Israel. Shushan Purim commemorates the attack of the Amalekites, by the Bne Israel, because of their unprovoked attack.
Shemot (Exodus) 17:7-16 And he called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah, because of the chiding of the children of Israel, and because they tempted HaShem, saying, Is HaShem among us, or not? Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim. And Moses said unto Joshua, Choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amalek: tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of G-d in mine hand. So Joshua did as Moses had said to him, and fought with Amalek: and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands [were] heavy; and they took a stone, and put [it] under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword. And HaShem said unto Moses, Write this [for] a memorial in a book, and rehearse [it] in the ears of Joshua: for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven. And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it HaShem-nissi: For he said, Because HaShem hath sworn [that] HaShem [will have] war with Amalek from generation to generation.
After the Jewish people defeated Amalek in war, the verse states, “HaShem will be at war with Amalek for all generations”. We have seen many times throughout history the nation of Amalek rise to power and assault the Jewish people. We saw them at war again with the Jewish people in the book of Shmuel. We saw them in the form of the wicked Haman in the Purim story. We saw them in the various tragic pogroms throughout history. We saw them in the deeds of Stalin, may his name be blotted out, who died on Purim. More recently we saw them in the form of Nazi Germany in the 1930’s and 40’s. We also saw Amalek in Iraq during the Gulf war.
King Saul failed to utterly destroy Amalek as he had been commanded, and as a consequence lost his kingship, and was slain by an Amalekite. Ever since, each generation of the Jewish people has had war with an Amalek: Haman, Stalin, Hitler, Nasser, Sadam Hussein, the Palestinian (Philistine) entity, and now Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Now, we know that King Saul killed all of the Amalekites except Agag, and the Prophet Shmuel killed Agag the following day. Thus it appears that all of the Amalekites have been killed. This presents a small problem:
Shmuel Alef (1 Samuel) 27:8 And David and his men went up, and invaded the Geshurites, and the Gezrites, and the Amalekites: for those of old the inhabitants of the land, as thou goest to Shur, even unto the land of Egypt.
If all of the Amalekites were killed by King Saul and Shmuel the Prophet, where did the Amalekites come from, who battled against King David later in history?
Rashi, in Shmuel Alef, comments on the command to kill every living being, including all of the animals. He asks why the oxen and sheep must be killed, and answers that the Amalekites knew magical arts and could transform themselves into animals, and thus, might disguise themselves and escape.
Thus a possible answer to our question is that some Amalekites escaped, disguised as animals. It could also be, however, that the story of David took place before the story of Saul. Never the less, one of the things we learn from the fact that the Amalekites could disguise themselves, is that this use of a disguise is a trait of the Amalekites that will help us identify them. Rashi shows us that they have used disguises many times and points to the following pasuk:
Bamidbar 21:1 “And the Canaanite heard... And he fought against Israel.”
The Nazarean Codicil also addresses an enemy of the noble people:
Romans 16:17-20 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Yeshua HaMashiach, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple. For your obedience is come abroad unto all [men]. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil. And the G-d of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.
The enemy that is being addressed is the one who causes divisions. The one who destroys are unity is just like Amalek. As Amalek creates doubt so too does the one who causes division within the congregation.
* * *
Bereshit (Genesis) 21:1 The Canaanites heard ...
He heard that Aharon had died and that the Clouds of Glory had lifted ... Amalek is a “punishing strap” for Israel always ready for punishment.
Sanhedrin 20b And thus R. Judah said: Three commandments were given to Israel when they entered the land: [i] to appoint a king, to cut off the seed of Amalek, and to build themselves the chosen house. While R. Nehorai said: This section was spoken only in anticipation of their future murmurings, as it is written, And shalt say, I will set a king over me etc.
The Midrash speaks of these same three requirements:
Pesiqta deRab Kahana, Midrashic Homilies for Shabbat Zakhor, Pisqa III, III:XIV “...When the Lord your God gives you peace from your enemies on every side, in the land which he is giving you to occupy as your patrimony, you shall not fail to blot out the memory of the Amalekites from under heaven” (Deut. 25:17-19): R. Azariah, R. Judah bar Simon in the name of R. Judah bar Ilai: When the Israelites entered the Land, they were commanded in three matters: to appoint a king, to build the chosen house, “And they shall make me a sanctuary” (Ex. 25:8), and to wipe out the memory of Amalek.
The Ramban comments on Shemot (Exodus) 17:16: "By saying, The hand upon the throne of the Eternal: the Eternal will have war with Amalek from generation to generation, Scripture intimates that the Israelites must first appoint a king over themselves [before they are to annihilate the offspring of Amalek], for the throne of the Eternal refers only to the king, as it is said, Then Solomon sat on the throne of the Eternal. In line with the plain meaning of Scripture, this is correct.
The eradication of Amalek comes after we have a King who is a descendant of Rachel (Either from the tribe of Yosef or from the tribe of Benyamin). I have dealt with this topic extensively in the study titled “Esther“. Only AFTER Amalek is destroyed can the Mashiach ben David restore the Beit HaMikdash.
Haman, one of the central characters of the Megillat Esther, was descended from Amalek. The Prophets says in Yeshayahu that in spite of Bne Israel’s suffering, they will prevail. The reason given is that we are HaShem’s crowning jewels and chosen nation. In contrast, HaShem’s throne will not be complete until the destruction of Amalek. This underscores the fundamental difference between Bne Israel and Amalek. Our existence is defined by HaShem’s Divine intervention, whereas Amalek defined his destiny through denying HaShem’s Presence. Naturally, this places us at impassable odds with Amalek and his children.
Amalek’s goal is the total destruction of Israel. He attempted to destroy Israel in the desert in the days of Moshe. He attempted to destroy Israel in Haman’s day. He Attempted to destroy Israel (Mashiach) in the days of Judas. He attempted to destroy them in the days of Hitler, Stalin, and Saddam Hussein. As our Sages teach, there is an Amalek who arises in every generation to destroy Israel.
Matityahu (Matthew) 26:14-16 Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, And said [unto them], What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him.
Mashiach was sold for silver, by Judas.
Israel was sold for silver by Haman.
Both Judas and Haman had to leave their wine feast.
Both Judas and Haman were hung by gallows of their own making.
Both Judas and Haman sold out to those who were glad about their enemy’s impending destruction.
Both Judas and Haman were Amalekites!
Shabbat similarly marks the connection between HaShem and His people - “Between Me and Bne Israel it is a sign forever”. Therefore, the Gemara draws a connection between desecration of Shabbat and the attack of Amalek:
Shabbat 118 “Had Bne Yisrael observed the first Shabbat after the giving of the manna, no other nation would have been able to have dominion over them. The verse states: ‘And it was on the seventh day that some of the people went out to gather [the manna],’ and afterwards the Torah states: ‘And Amalek came and fought.’“
When the Bne Yisrael desecrate the Shabbat, they also damage their connection to HaShem, thereby exposing an opening for Amalek to attempt to challenge the entire relationship between HaShem and His nation.
The Midrash states that the word Zakhor (remember) appears with regard to both Amalek and Shabbat because the two are equal. One symbolizes HaShem’s Hashgacha Pratis, His providence, and one its denial. Remembering and keeping the Shabbat strengthens the holy covenant between HaShem and His nation Israel, and this counteracts the effects of Amalek.
Devarim (Deuteronomy 25:17-18 Remember what Amalek did to you as you were leaving Egypt. He happened upon you, and struck the weakest people trailing behind, when you were exhausted. And he did not fear G-d.
Parashat Ki-Teitzei is known as the Parsha with the most amount of mitzvot, so it may not be surprising to find the mitzva to recall Amalek’s hatred of the Jewish people at the end of the Parsha, seemingly disconnected from what came before it and what comes after it.
However, the mitzva that preceded this one of remembering Amalek was that of keeping properly balanced weights and measures, so that no one will ever end up paying more than they should have for what he purchased. However, the weighing of items is a symbol for far more than the give-and-take of the business world; it also represents the idea of being deliberate in judgment. Thus, Chazal have taught:
Pirke Avot 1:1 Moshe received Torah from Sinai, and handed it over to Yehoshua; Yehoshua to the Elders; the Elders to the Prophets; and the Prophets handed it over to the Men of the Great Assembly. They said three things: Be deliberate in judgment; develop many students; and make a fence for Torah.
First the Mishnah discusses the Mesorah, the line of Torah tradition without which Torah Judaism cannot survive. Right after that, however, the first teaching to emerge is to be deliberate in judgment, to weigh issues and assess their importance.
It is as if our Hakhamim are admonishing that the Mesorah itself survives only when those responsible for it act level headed, are well-balanced, and are only interested in the pursuit of justice, HaShem’s justice. If not, then the teachings become flawed, severed from their Divine Source. The result of not properly weighing ideas: doubt, confusion, and war with Amalek!
Wait, the lesson is not over yet!
Following the command to remember Amalek comes Bikkurim, the mitzva to bring up the First-Fruits to the Temple in an elaborate ceremony. The underlying premise of this mitzvah is that HaShem has been good to the Jewish people, taking us out from the depths of spiritual oblivion to the heights of a holy life on the holy land of Eretz Israel. It is a mitzva of recognizing the good.
This is the other half of the sandwich that encloses the story of Amalek. Disgruntled people are rebellious people who tend to turn against the authorities governing their lives. If the economy is good and the standard of living is reasonably high, then leaders can get away with just about anything. But if the quality of life drops, and you’re a leader, watch out!
We expect that the battle against Amalek will begin around Pesach because we saw that Yehoshua battled Amalek on Iyar 28, and Esther and Mordechai began to fight Haman the Agagite just shortly before Pesach. We also expect that the battle against Amalek will conclude shortly before Purim because that was the time that Esther, Mordechai, and the Bne Israel triumphed over Amalek.
Shortly after leaving Mitzrayim, the Jewish people began to waver is their belief and in their Torah studies. This wavering led directly to a physical battle. The physical battle with Amalek began as a result of a spiritual problem:
Shemot (Exodus) 17:1-2 And all the congregation of the children of Israel journeyed from the wilderness of Sin, after their journeys, according to the commandment of HaShem, and pitched in Rephidim: and [there was] no water for the people to drink. Wherefore the people did chide with Moses, and said, “Give us water that we may drink”. And Moses said unto them, “Why chide ye with me? Wherefore do ye tempt HaShem?”
Baba Kama 82a The [following] ten enactments were ordained by Ezra: That the law be read [publicly] in the Mincha service on Sabbath; that the law be read [publicly] on Mondays and Thursdays; that Courts be held on Mondays and Thursdays; that clothes be washed on Thursdays; that garlic be eaten on Fridays; that the housewife rise early to bake bread; that a woman must wear a sinnar; that a woman must comb her hair before performing immersion; that pedlars [selling spicery] be allowed to travel about in the towns, He also decreed immersion to be required by those to whom pollution has happened.
‘That the law be read [publicly] on Mondays and Thursdays.’ But was this ordained by Ezra? Was this not ordained even before him? For it was taught: ‘And they went three days in the wilderness and found no water, upon which those who expound verses metaphorically said: water means nothing but Torah, as it says: Ho, everyone that thirsteth come ye for water. It thus means that as they went three days without Torah they immediately became exhausted. The prophets among them thereupon rose and enacted that they should publicly read the law on Shabbat, make a break on Sunday, read again on Monday, make a break again on Tuesday and Wednesday, read again on Thursday and then make a break on Friday so that they should not be kept for three days without Torah.’ Originally it was ordained that one man should read three verses or that three men should together read three verses, corresponding to priests, Levites and Israelites. Then Ezra came and ordained that three men should be called up to read, and that ten verses should be read, corresponding to ten batlanim.
After this spiritual problem, Amalek “just happens” to come upon the Children of Israel:
After leaving the land of Egypt, the nation of Amalek attacked the Jewish people in a place named Rephidim The Talmud interprets Rephidim (which comes from the root word ripu meaning to weaken) as “the Jews allowing themselves to weaken in their study of the words of Torah.”
Sanhedrin 106a What is the meaning of Rephidim? — R. Eliezer said: Rephidim was its name. R. Joshua said: [It was so called] because there they slackened in [their loyalty to] the Torah, as it is written, The fathers shall not look back to their children for feebleness of hands.
The Mishna illustrates the situation:
Rosh Hashanah 29a MISHNAH. [IT IS WRITTEN] AND IT CAME TO PASS, WHEN MOSES HELD UP HIS HAND THAT ISRAEL PREVAILED, ETC. NOW DID THE HANDS OF MOSES WAGE WAR OR CRUSH THE ENEMY? NOT SO; ONLY THE TEXT SIGNIFIES THAT SO LONG AS ISRAEL TURNED THEIR THOUGHTS ABOVE AND SUBJECTED THEIR HEARTS TO THEIR FATHER IN HEAVEN THEY PREVAILED, BUT OTHERWISE THEY FELL. THE SAME LESSON MAY BE TAUGHT THUS. [IT IS WRITTEN], MAKE THEE A FIERY SERPENT AND SET IT UP ON A POLE, AND IT SHALL COME TO PASS THAT EVERYONE THAT IS BITTEN, WHEN HE SEETH IT, SHALL LIVE. NOW DID THE SERPENT KILL OR DID THE SERPENT KEEP A LIVE? NO; [WHAT IT INDICATES IS THAT] WHEN ISRAEL TURNED THEIR THOUGHTS ABOVE AND SUBJECTED THEIR HEARTS TO THEIR FATHER IN HEAVEN, THEY WERE HEALED, BUT OTHERWISE THEY PINED AWAY.
It states that when Moshe raised his hands in the air during the war with Amalek, the Jewish people prevailed. Also, when his hands would be down at his side, the nation of Amalek prevailed. The Mishna explains that the Torah is teaching us, that, “as long as Israel looked heavenward and subjected their heart to their Father in heaven, they would prevail. However, when they did not, they would be defeated”.
It says: And Amalek came.
The Gur Aryeh points out an interesting consistency in the Torah. In all other instances of war described in the Torah the word used is “went out” and not “came.” See “When you go out to war”. Other examples can be found in Bereshit 14:8; Bamidbar 20:20; 21:23; Devarim 1:44; 3:1 and 29:6.
So here, when the Torah says that Amalek CAME and made war, it has the sound of an unprovoked incitement. Or we could say, it has the sound of his being invited to come! HaShem invited him to make war with Israel as punishment for Israel’s disregard of HaShem’s presence.
If the Jews would have been fully engaged in Torah study, then Amalek could have not attack them. It is interesting to note that Amalek is a descendent of Edom (which is our current exile). As the verse states, “The voice is the voice of Yaakov, the hands are the hands of Esav.” Chazal explain that as long as we use our “voice” as the “voice” of Yaakov (symbolic of Torah study) then the Jews will not fall into the hands of Esav (who is the forefather of Edom and Amalek). Amalek only has the upper hand when we are not engaged in Torah study. Thus, we can understand the Ohr HaChaim’s explanation that the ultimate redemption will come only when the Jews will be fully engaged in studying Torah for its own sake (l’shmah).
What Brings Amalek?
Devarim (Deuteronomy) 25:17ff describes the mitzva to remember Amalek. This portion ends with the command to remember and eradicate Amalek. Immediately prior to the mitzva of eradicating Amalek is the portion of honest weights and measures.
Rashi, commenting on the juxtaposition of the two portions says, the connection is to teach us that if a person is dishonest with weights and measures, he is going to be attacked by Amalek. According to this Rashi, the reason why we suffer at the hands of Amalek is because of dishonesty.
Devarim (Deuteronomy) 25 is actually the second time Amalek is mentioned in the Torah. Parshat Beshalach contains the first mention of the attack of Amalek. In the portion that precedes the section of Amalek, the Children of Israel ask the question:
In this portion we see that the faith of the Children of Israel people was lax. What happened? Amalek attacked. Why did Amalek attach us at precisely this time? Chazal teach that this attack occurred at this time because Amalek represents that force in the world that does not believe in HaShem. We see from this portion that Amalek comes as a result of a lack of emunah, faithful obedience.
The question arises: Which is it? What brings Amalek? Does Amalek come because of a lack of faith or does Amalek come because of dishonesty and theft?
Rav Moshe Feinstein, z”tl, says that Amalek comes when there is a lack of faith. The portion of dishonest weights and measures is not a portion that merely deals with theft and dishonesty. Failure to maintain honest weights and measures only occurs when people are lacking in faith in HaShem!
Those who believes in HaShem, believes that it is HaShem who gives them their livelihood. Ultimately, no matter how hard we work and how hard we try, a person’s sustenance is determined for him on Rosh Hashanah. If one believes in that, why should he have crooked weights and measures? Why is he cheating? What good will an extra dollar do for a person, if his annual income is already pre-determined?
The problem is that this person does not believe that it is HaShem who gives livelihood. This is not a crime of passion; this is not a sin of dishonesty. This is a “theological issue”. This person believes he has to steal to make money! Those who do not maintain integrity in the marketplace, and cheats others, should concern himself with the reprisal of Amalek.
Therefore both the portion in Shemot and the portion in Devarim are teaching the same lesson. Amalek comes when we say, “Is HaShem in our midst?” When one’s belief is weak, Amalek comes. And if one thinks he has to cut corners and cheat to earn a livelihood, then his belief is weak!
In our time, the major killers belonging to Amalek: Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Saddam Hussein, Arafat, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad all were allowed or even encouraged, to continue to practice their barbarities because of the tolerance, the “appeasement” extended to them by well-meaning good people. If honest people do nothing, simply because they mistakenly believe that it does not affect them directly, then Amalek will come and attack.
Chazal, Our Sages, teach us that Moshe’s hands raised towards heaven, in Shemot 17, were not the cause of the Children of Israel’s triumph. Rather, the people’s ability to subjugate their minds and heart to the service of HaShem was the determining factor in their success. Thus, Amalek’s war against the Children of Israel symbolizes our ability to withstand outside pressures in order to focus upon the real source of our sustenance, HaShem. Amalek came to extinguish our fire of belief in HaShem. He did not succeed!
* * *
Ibn Ezra indicates that these two portions are adjacent to show us that Amalek attacks the Children of Israel who had just left Egypt, and does them a disservice whilst Yitro came and did the Children of Israel a huge favor by suggesting, to Moshe, a hierarchy of judges rather than a system where only Moshe could settle disputes between people. Later in history, Amalek and Yitro appear together again. HaShem tells Shmuel, the prophet, to have King Saul destroy Amalek in its entirety. King Saul first contacts a small nation, the Kenites, and asks them to move away from their home, which is in proximity of Amalek and in danger of being destroyed by the Children of Israel in a war. There is a tradition that the Kenites are descendants of Yitro, and King Saul goes out of his way to warn them out of appreciation for the favor Yitro had done for the Jewish people in the desert. The Torah put these stories of Yitro and Amalek back to back to remind King Saul that, even when avenging Amalek, he, and every person who fights a battle, must remember to show gratitude to those who have helped them along the way.
Yitro came to Moshe right after the first battle with Amalek. Both of them were Gentiles. Amalek represents the essence of the Gentiles, the evil in its worse expression, evil per se. Yitro was also a Gentile. The first one raised his hand to destroy the holy people and the second came out to offer good advice.
We still can hear the echo of the words in the last sentences of Shemot 17: “I will utterly blot out ... War with Amalek from generation to generation”, and right after that: “Yitro, the priest of Midian, Moshe’s father in law, heard of all that HaShem had done for Moshe and for Israel, His people.” Two Gentiles standing at opposite extremes, yet the Torah puts them back-to-back. From Amalek we learn that you do not deal with the evil. You blot out him! From Yitro we learn, that an individual Gentile may be good to the Israelites, but not Midian, as a nation.
Rabbenu Bachya, a classic 14th century Torah commentator, explains that the juxtaposition, of Amalek and Yitro, highlighted the stark contrast between the responses of Amalek and Yitro to the miraculous events that surrounded the Children of Israel’s exodus from Egypt. Amalek chose to ignore all the signs that HaShem had chosen the Children of Israel as His people; and to disregard all the spectacular, supernatural occurrences performed for the Children of Israel.
The nation of Amalek chose, to not only close their eyes to the truth, but to attack those who carried its message. Yitro, on the other hand, took heed, paying very close attention to the events as they unfolded, and after witnessing one act of Divine providence after another, came to the conclusion that this nation must be very special. Yitro realized that he could not hide from the truth.
* * *
The Torah puts three things next to each other:
At a very basic level we see that that the bread from heaven was a miraculous event. Why then, were the people worried about water? If HaShem can supply bread from heaven, which had never been seen before, why didn’t the people suspect that HaShem could bring water from heaven, like He had been doing for a very long time?
We can begin to understand answers to these questions when we consider that the word manna, is spelled: המן = HaMan.
This suggests that the allusion to Haman, in the incident of the manna, is a warning of the spiritual nature of this event, not the physical nature. It is as though we can see that if we fail to learn the lesson of the manna, then we will have trouble with the Amalekites.
So, do we learn our lesson? No, we go ahead and complain about the lack of water. The Sages then see this lack of Torah and its wisdom, as the cause of the Amalekite attack.
This lesson was obscured for the generation in the wilderness. This lesson is apparent to the Torah student today. This suggests that this event will occur again and that the lesson is very appropriate to us today, as the prophet said:
Micah 7:15 According to the days of thy coming out of the land of Egypt will I shew unto him marvelous [things].
By Hakham Dr. Yosef ben Haggai
So, having learned this, we may well ask, who can we identify today as being “AMALEK”? We read in:
Amos 1:11 “Thus says HaShem; For three transgressions of Edom (I have looked away), but for four, I will not pardon them – for their pursuing his brother with the sword, and suppressing his mercy; his anger has slaughtered perpetually, and he has kept his fury for ever.”
Jewish tradition identifies Amalek as being part of EDOM, and EDOM is in turn identified with the two illegitimate religions that have sprung forth from Judaism (Christianity and Islam). Their birth was illegitimate as was that of Timnah. These two religions and peoples under their banner share in the four sins, which G-d says through the mouth of Amos, the Prophet, that “He will never pardon them.” These four sins are listed to be:
Note that no other two religions and civilizations in this world since the Romans have so mercilessly persecuted the Jewish people as these. When it was the turn for Christianity to persecute us, Islam tolerated us, and when it was the turn for Islam to persecute us, then Christianity started to tolerate us in the hope of causing our death by assimilation. Nevertheless with globalization, and in the pursuit of “peace” United Nations style, the time will come when both the Christian and Islamic world will cease their alternate mode of persecution of the Jewish people, and will join hands on this evil enterprise in unison. Already we are seeing this at various levels, for example, the meeting of minds from the Islamic world through to the Christian nations siding many a time unjustly with the criminal organization known as the PLO and exerting an enormous amount of pressure on Israel to conform to their wishes. All because of their strategic “oil” and commercial interests.
However, there is a basic Jewish principle that all wars are basically spiritual, and when the battle is lost at the spiritual level, then war at the physical level follows. Again, the great Sephardi Hakham Yaaqov Culi of blessed memory, correctly identifies this phenomenon when he states:
But a nation cannot fall until its spiritual genius (SAR) falls first. There is however, a great difference between the genius of Amalek and those of other nations. The genius of Amalek is Samael, the angel of evil. This is identical with Satan, the evil urge that causes man to sin. Thus, whenever a person sins (breaks the Law of G-d), he gives strength to Samael, and this strengthens Amalek.
Thus, while G-d breaks the power of other geniuses, it is our responsibility to undermine the power of the genius of Amalek. As long as we sin, he becomes stronger and stronger.
In his blessing to Jacob, Isaac said, “The voice is Jacob’s voice, but the hands are Esau’s hands” (Genesis 27:22). As discussed earlier, this indicates that when Jacob is lax in Torah study, prayer and good deeds, Esau’s hand becomes stronger. The reason is because when we are lax in our service to G-d, Samael, who is the genius of Amalek (Esau), becomes all the stronger. As long as its genius is strong, there is no way that Amalek can be obliterated from the world. A nation cannot fall unless its genius falls first!
This resolves an important contradiction. Here, in Shemot 17:16, we see that G-d Himself swore that He would destroy Amalek. Later, however, He gave us a commandment to do so. If G-d promised to destroy Amalek why did He have to give us a commandment to do so? In the case of all other nations, G-d first destroys the genius, and then lets us take care of the people. Here, it is the exact opposite. We must destroy Amalek’s genius by ceasing to sin and by repenting. This is our responsibility. Then as G-d ha sworn, he will take of the physical peoples of Esau.
Revelation 3:9 “Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.” –
Thus the Synagogues of Satan are also the Synagogues of Amalek which claim to be Jews and Israelites, but they are liars who have no physical Jewish or Israelite mother nor do they observe the Halacha of the people of Israel, the Jews. In other words, the main tactic of the Synagogues of Satan is to say that they have displaced or replaced the Jewish people, and therefore they are the children of Avraham and Israel par excellance and no one else.
The battle against Amalek starts in the realm of ideas, in the mind. The evil of the Inquisition came as a consequence of Christian Replacement or Displacement Theology whereby Christianity had replaced / displaced Israel. The Nazi evil came as a consequence of Luther’s anti-Semitic diatribes teaching the Jewish people, their books and their religion needed to be eliminated. In more modern times, Christianity has resorted to a different tactic. In the early 60’s at Fuller Christian Theological Seminary, a new approach to world evangelism was in a state of gestation. Its name was “Cross Cultural Evangelism” by which the Christian message needed to be firmly embedded in the culture of the target country or province, and make abundant use of its cultural trappings and signs of identification. This new tactic was unleashed upon the Jewish people under the name of Messianic Judaism, which is nothing more and nothing else than Christianity with a varnish of Jewish music and cultural signs of identification, which at times are given even a newer meaning. Most Christian denominations vigorously support morally and financially most of these Messianic so called “Synagogues.” The lion share coming from the Southern Baptist Convention and the Pentecostal denominations.
One of the characteristic traits of these groups is their total rejection of Jewish Halacha and absolute rebellion and disregard for the authority of Jewish Hakhamim, their teachings, and their legitimate courts of law. Since the nature of these groups stemming from Protestant Fundamentalist sects is to be a law unto themselves, the so called Messianic Jewish movement has fractured into a multitude of sub-sects and organizations.
Like Amalek their target audience are those Jewish stragglers who for whatever circumstance are ignorant of their Torah, traditions and Laws. Their methods are as cruel as those employed by Amalek. Jewish Orthodoxy and its teachings are to be eliminated from amongst the Jewish people and replaced by their Christian Theology. Their teachers reject the teaching of the Shulchan Aruch and have replaced them by their Christian Theologies dressed with Tzitzith.
Not content with this, some in the Messianic Jewish movement have revived recently old anti-Semitic and racist theological dogmas that were used at one time by British protestants, then the Nazis, and then a number of far-right extremist organizations and adopted by a number of Christian fundamentalists. The sadness of this deceptive tool of Amalek is that their “new” merchants ignorant of the history of ideas and the history of Christian teachings believe in their heart that they are the discoverers of this “new” doctrine.
Consider for a moment the following published in the Internet:
“According to Mizmor (Psalm) 82, Devarim (Deuteronomy) 16:18-20 and 17:8-13 (and echoed in the Chapters of the Fathers – Pirke Avot 1:1), HaShem commanded Israel to establish courts of justice and Halakhic authority for all Israel.
Referred to as “Oral Torah“ or Mesorah (tradition), it was received by Moshe Rabbenu … Later the Masorah of Y’hudaism was taken up by the Second Temple rabbis and sages and referred to as “Rabbinical authority.”
However, by the time of Yeshua HaMashiach Israel’s courts of justice and its Mesorah had become corrupted due to numerous political pressures and religious hypocrisy, resulting in the transfer of Halakhic authority (referred to as the “keys of the Kingdom”) to the Talmidim of Yeshua HaMashiach. This is recorded in Matityahu Chapters 16, 18, 21, and Acts 15 (among other places). With their new Divine authority, the Netzerim were then given the job of overseeing the Halacha of His “Kingdom.”
The problem with this replacement / displacement statement is that it suffers of intellectual myopia or and lacks any historical foundation. It is absurd to think that G-d transferred the Halakhic authority to the sect of the Nazarean Pharisees and of whom at best if we trust the unreliable accounts of the Catholic Fathers there existed up to the 13th century some small pockets in the Middle East of Nazarean Communities who were totally Torah observant, and then mysteriously disappeared leaving no trace of their Halacha and thereby since the destruction of the Temple condemning all Israel in Diaspora through almost 2,000 years without the Halacha of this “Kingdom”! This is not the G-d of the Nazareans! This is the god of Amalek! May I venture to say that the reason we do not have any Halakhic extant codes from the Nazareans is because they were Jews, and Jews are forbidden to separate themselves from the Jewish community (Pirke Avot II.5), and therefore they were active in the midst of their Jewish communities fully involved in the Rabbinical Halakhic enterprise!
Let us look at another example also published in the Internet by a, so called, Messianic Jewish organisation:
How will the two houses of Israel (house of Israel / Christianity and house of Judah / Judaism) become one house? When will the prophecy of Ezekiel (Yehezekel) 37:15-28 be fulfilled and Ephraim (house of Israel) and Judah (house of Judah) become one in the hand of the G-d of Israel? In this chapter, we will discuss how and when the two houses of Israel will be redeemed and restored to the G-d of Israel and reconciled to each other.
In order to understand how and when the two houses of Israel will be reunited, you need to understand how the restoration and unification of the two houses of Israel is related and associated with the covenant that the G-d of Israel made with Abraham (Avraham). This covenant is also paramount in understanding the prophetic significance of the nation of Israel making peace with her Arab neighbors in the end of days. By being willing to trade “land for peace” based upon UN Resolutions 242 and 338, the leadership of the nation of Israel and all Jews (house of Judah) who approve of trading “land for peace” are rejecting the covenant that the G-d of Israel made with Abraham.
The covenant that the G-d of Israel made with Abraham is an everlasting covenant (Genesis [Bereshit] 17:7. In Genesis (Bereshit) 15:18-21, the G-d of Israel promised the descendants of Abraham a land forever. In Leviticus (Vayikra) 25:23, the G-d of Israel commanded that the land is not to be sold forever.
By rejecting the covenant that the G-d of Israel made with Abraham and by being willing to trade part of the eternal Promised Land for “peace,” the nation of Israel will experience the greatest time of trouble that she has ever experienced since she has been a nation (Daniel 12:1-2). This period of time is also known as Jacob’s trouble. However, during the time of Jacob’s trouble, the two houses of Israel (Ephraim and Judah) will be reunited in the land of Israel (Jeremiah [Yirmeyahu] 30:1-7) through a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh) upon the remnant in the house of Israel (Christianity) and the house of Judah (Judaism) who believe the covenant that the G-d of Israel made with Abraham.
The restoration of both houses of Israel and a return to the land of Israel will be done by the G-d of Israel with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm in the sight of all the nations. The G-d of Israel will gather His people as a shepherd who gathers His lost sheep and bring them to the land of Israel (Ezekiel [Yehezekel] 34:11-13) from all the nations of the earth where they have been scattered (Deuteronomy [Devarim] 30:1-5). The restoration of both houses of Israel and their return upon the “mountains of Israel” (West Bank) (Ezekiel [Yehezekel] 37:18-22) will be the end of the exile of both houses of Israel into all the nations of the earth. After returning to the land of Israel following this “Messianic redemption” and the ending of the exile of both houses of Israel from all the nations of the earth, the Jewish Messiah (Mashiach) Yeshua / Jesus will set His feet down upon the mount of Olives (Zechariah [Zechariah] 14:4) and be King over all the earth (Zechariah [Zechariah] 14:9) and rule and reign from Jerusalem (Yerushalayim) teaching the Torah to the nations during the Messianic Age (Athid Lavo) (Isaiah [Yeshayahu] 2:2-3) for 1,000 years (Revelation 20:4,6).
Oy Vey! When has the House of Israel of old, ever been equated with Christianity? The first to propound this heresy in the history of ideas were the so called “British Israel” proponents prior to the Nazis, the Nazis adopted it as their official platform of beliefs to justify that superiority of the Nordic races and in particular the supreme superiority of the Arian race as the descendants of Ephraim. Later on, it has been taken by some sectors of the Pentecostal churches and popularized again by Herbert Armstrong and his cult, and subsequent splinter groups after his death. In Australia as in the U.K. most of the literature on British Israel is published by an organization called “The League of Rights” and closely allied to the Australian and British Nazi parties, as well as Herbert Armstrong’s splinter groups, all of the seed of Amalek!
In fact, in Australia during the 1950’s the bulk of the Pentecostal movement represented by the Assemblies of God, was painfully split on this issue, resulting in the extirpation to their credit of this doctrinal cancer. Other Christian denominations for fear in part of being branded in the media as supporters of the Nazi party have stayed well away from this British Israel doctrine. In the United States, there is a considerable amount of literature published by the KKK and organizations of like ilk such as the “Aryan Nation” who also teach most firmly that they are the descendants of ten lost tribes of Israel.
Judaism has never equated Christianity with the ten Tribes of Israel, and all of our Sages speak with one voice in identifying Christianity with Edom / Esau / Amalek. However, in all fairness we need to ask, how exactly have our Sages interpreted the passage of Ezekiel (Yehezekel) 37:15-28 be fulfilled and Ephraim (house of Israel) and Judah (house of Judah) become one in the hand of the G-d of Israel?
Let us look at some of the critical verses in this passage. In Ezekiel 37:21, if we follow the logical sequence of events in the chapter, the reunion of the two kingdoms is to be preceded by the gathering together of the dispersed of the ten tribes of Israel in foreign countries and their return to Zion. In v.23 we read that those Israelites who were living among the pagan nations and had adopted their idolatries, G-d will restore them to their land, but will also purge them from their heathenism and idolatrous theologies. Further in v. 24 the Messiah, a descendent of David from the tribe of Judah, who has preserved the Halacha will be king and shepherd over them. Malbim here identifies the Messiah as occupying two offices: one as king and two as a shepherd (spiritual / Halakhic leader).
In other words, Mashiach is of the House of David, and he rules by the Halacha being developed by the Sages of the Jews (Judah, Benjamin and Levi) since Moshe Rabbenu. Failure to accept and live by Jewish Halacha will therefore incur eternal damnation. Malbim in his commentary on Ezekiel explains that in v.25, though Avraham and Yitzchak were also promised the land, only Jacob is mentioned in this connection because he was the ancestor of Israel alone, whereas the other two patriarchs were also the ancestors of Ishmael and Esau respectively, who were not included in the promise. Note that our Sages clearly explain that Christianity is Esau / Edom / Amalek and Ishmael represents Islam. So the Israelites we are speaking here are neither Christianity nor Islam, and the claim that Christianity = the House of Israel is therefore untrue and out of the question according to Ezekiel 37:25.
However, these false teachers who proclaim that they are Ephraim and Israel, want to do so because they want to claim for themselves the prerogatives listed by Hakham Shaul in Romans 9:4-5 as belonging to Israel, in true replacement / displacement fashion of the Jewish people. However, Romans 9:4 does not start the sentence, but v.3 does. And Hakham Shaul claims in Romans 9:3 that his “brethren and kinsmen according to the flesh are the Israelites.” Trouble is that Hakham Shaul was of the tribe of Benjamin who joined itself to the tribe of Judah, so that the Israel he is speaking here about are at least the Jews and not the ten Northern Tribes of Israel! In a similar vein, when Hakham Yaaqov HaTsadiq writes in his Epistle, he addresses it to: “the twelve tribes which are in the Diaspora” and thereby implying that what we call Jews today or at that time contain in them elements of all the twelve tribes of Israel!
It has been my experience though, that although some of the teachers sport Doctorates in Divinity or Theology, the truth of the matter is that academic qualifications do not stand as do any other qualification from a reputable University. My experience as a Post-Graduate research supervisor in dealing with these teachers is that they utterly lack the academic rigor, intellectual discipline and honesty required from such advanced degree holders. Take for example, one of the fundamental premises of a well-disciplined mind, and polished academic thinker is that such person is consistent in his didactic methodology and expose.
Now, most Evangelical Christians, Messianic Jews, and all Orthodox Zionist Jews, believe that the first part of Ezekiel 37 dealing with the valley of the dry bones is a metaphorical description of the establishment of the Modern State of Israel. Now these teachers who proclaim themselves, to be part of the ten Northern Tribes of Israel, also believe that the first part of Ezekiel 37 must be interpreted metaphorically and not literally, yet, when we come to vv. 15-28 they switch without reason and breaking the rule of consistency to a literal mode of interpretation. The trouble is that these Amalekite teachers fail to realize that they are dealing with an Apocalyptic book which only admits interpretation based upon the Sod (secret) level of Rabbinic / Jewish Hermeneutics and not the Peshat (simple / literal) mode of interpretation. Consistency demands that if we are to read Ezekiel 37:1-14 metaphorically, then we must continue to do so from vv.15-28! Any Post Graduate supervisor or examiner would have failed any candidate for violating such elementary rule of logic and intellectual discipline, and yet we have people sporting Doctorates breaking all rules of logic, not to mention the hermeneutic Laws of Sod literature. Such is the mind and the sin of those “acting presumptuously” – cf. Bamidbar 15:30,31 and Devarim 17:12,13.
Further, if these people believe that they are Ephraimites, then the same text says that before G-d brings them to the land of Israel these have to be cleansed from their heathenism first (v.23). Further, they will need to walk in the Mishpatim (civil and criminal laws of the Jews according to Jewish Halacha) and the Chuqot (Laws for which there is no logical explanation but have been given by G-d and interpreted by Jewish Batei Din as for example Jewish Halacha regarding dietary laws). Therefore, if we were to adopt the literal interpretation of Ezekiel 37:15-28, anyone who claims to be of the Northern ten Tribes of Israel is de facto claiming that they have not been yet cleansed by G-d from their heathenism, and that they have not yet accepted the Mishpatim and the Chuqot of the Jewish people as per Jewish Orthodox Halacha. Oy! Such is the nature of deception, for as Hakham Shaul said, “But malicious men and impostors shall advance worse upon worse, misleading, and being (themselves) misled” (2 Timothy 3:13).
Lastly as noted by Gesenius, “the Mount of the Amalekites” (i.e. the seat of government of the Amalekites) was part of the land of the tribe of Ephraim (Judges 12:15; compare Judges 5:14), this was the town of Pirathon, which is not far from the present day city of Nablus (Shechem), under PLO control. After King Solomon’s death Jeroboam I, an Ephraimite, led a secession from the rule of Judah to become the king of the Northern Kingdom, and consequently also led an apostasy from normative Judaism. Jeroboam was the first man in history to establish an “iron curtain” (a la Soviet Union style) preventing anyone from the Northern ten tribes to travel to Jerusalem or to worship G-d at the Temple in Jerusalem. It seems that Jeroboam I inherited all the traits of Amalek. The title and surname of the King of the Amalekites was Agag, this is the same title and surname, which Haman had (Esther 3:1). According to Gesenius this names comes from an Arabic Root meaning “to burn” or “to blaze.” Some philologists like M. Astour point out that the Greek name Ogygos is a Semitic name derived from Agag and meaning, “to flame.” We also know that one of the divinities of the peoples inhabiting Canaan was Molech, which required either the sacrifices of children by throwing them into a raging fire, or given to be trained in the temple of this idol as prostitutes. The Amalekites are identified as the first among the nations in the region and it is greatly possible that their cultic practices included the worship of Molech. Further the word Amalek can be divided into A (Ayin) and the word MLK which in Hebrew are the same consonants for Molech. Thus A-Melekh can also mean Ayin (the eye) of Molech. How fitting that the fire of Gehinnom (Hell) is reserved for the genius of Amalek, which is Ha-Satan, as well as for all Amalekites.
In summary, this doctrine that Christian or Messianics = Ephraim is but a new form of British Israel doctrine revived at this time by neo-Amalekites who are bent in the destruction of Judaism by bringing in the pollutions of their idolatry which prevents the ignorant of being cleansed from their idolatry and being taught by His Majesty King Yeshua the Messiah the Halacha of Judaism as recorded by His faithful servant the Spanish Hakham Yosef Karo in the whole of the Shulchan Aruch. These neo-Amalekites teach that Mashiach will heal the rift between the literal ten Northern tribes (supposedly them) and the literal tribes of Judah, Benjamin and Levi. However these miserably fail to observe that according to Ezekiel 37:24 this rift can only be healed when these (supposedly Ephraimites) hear the voice of Mashiach and start accepting and subjecting themselves to Mishpat Ivri and the Chuqot as spelled out by Mashiach’s servants His Jewish Orthodox Hakhamim and written down in such codes of Jewish Law as the Shulchan Aruch (Yeshayahu 8:16), otherwise the light of His Majesty King Yeshua our Mashiach has not yet dawned in the inner recesses of their minds and souls (Yeshayahu 8:20).
Relating to these deeds of the Amalekites we read from Hakham Shaul in Romans 16:17-20 –
1. Now I exhort you, brethren, to watch for those which are making divisions and offences contrary to the (oral) teaching which you learned; and turn away from them.
3. For your obedience (to the Oral Torah) has reached unto all. I rejoice therefore over you: but I wish you to be wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil.
In verses 19-20, Hakham Shaul makes the same statement that Hakham Yaaqov Culi, of blessed memory makes, that is, that we overpower the genius of Esau / Amalek by our study and observance of the Torah, and in doing so, G-d erases the memory of Esau / Amalek and his cohorts. As the Psalmist concludes in Psalm 147 – “He relates His (oral) word unto Jacob, his statutes (Chuqot) and his judgments (Mishpatim) unto Israel. He did not do so for any other nation: and as for His judgments (Mishpatim), they know them not. Halleluiah!”
Gog, according to the Septuagint, is Agag, a generic term used for kings of Amalek. Any war against the Children of Israel, meant to annihilate them, has to involve Amalek.
The word Gog uses not only the same consonants but has the same meaning as Agag; namely roof, or that which covers.
Chazal have taught us that the battle with Gog and Magog will take place during Succoth, on the eve of the Messianic era. The mitzvot of Succoth are the survival mechanism for this great war. The Succah and the waving of the lulav and etrog are essential to our survival during this war. Complete trust is the critical requirement against a foe who trusts only in his own might.
The Haftarah on Shabbat chol HaMoed is taken from Ezekiel 38, which contains a prophecy of the terrible war of Gog and Magog. This will be the last war ever to be fought, but it will engulf the whole world. Then will come a new era of peace, when HaShem will be recognized by all the nations of the world. The prophecy is very similar to that of Zechariah 14, read on the first day of Succoth.
Shemot 33:12 – 34:26
Yehezekel 38:18 – 29:16
Every Shabbat chol HaMoed Succoth we read the Haftarah (Yehezekel, Chapter 38) about the final confrontation at the end of days between Gog / Magog and the Children of Israel. How does Succoth connect with Gog and Magog and the end of days? Every year, when the Jew leaves his home for a week to eat, sleep and live in a Succah; a flimsy structure with a roof made of bits of wood, reed, bamboo, etc., he actualizes the idea that his ultimate care and protection come only from HaShem. The word “Gog” in Hebrew means roof.
The ADMOR of Zejichov, who lived some 200 years ago, wrote in his book a commentary about Exodus 4,13. The Hakham asks, how come the word “NA” (which is translated in English to ‘please’) is written in the verse. And he writes:
Know this: Gog and Magog war will start at Hosha-Na Raba
Wherever you find someone with a fanatical, implacable and illogical enmity to the Jewish People, you have found Amalek. His very existence is founded on his antipathy and hatred for the offspring of Yaakov.
The Torah states, “Amalek is the ‘rosh’ of the nations”. Rashi explains “rosh” to mean the “first”, as Amalek was the first nation to do battle with the Jews after they went out of Egypt. But Kabbalah explains “rosh” literally, as “head”; Amalek is the “head” of the evil nations in the world and supplanted the Primordial Snake, which first brought death and impurity into the world. It is this negative force which implants doubt and indecision in the minds of those who would serve HaShem faithfully and without question. In fact, the Baal Shem Tov points out the numerical value of “Amalek” is “safek”, Hebrew for “doubt”.
Shemot (Exodus) 17:14 And HaShem said unto Moses, Write this [for] a memorial in a book, and rehearse [it] in the ears of Joshua: for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.
However, Israel is called the “firstborn”, as the verse states:
Shemot (Exodus) 4:22 “My child, my firstborn, Israel”
The way Yaakov, and Israel, blot out Amalek is through whole-hearted devotion to the study of Torah we must have such a passion for Torah that we cannot be cooled down, even by Amalekites. Amalek, the essence of evil, is nullified by a love for HaShem and His Torah. This is the only way to eradicate evil, Amalek is the essence of evil!
Our Sages state that the war with Amalek was one of the necessary preparations for the Giving of the Torah. Similarly, our Sages state that the Jews did not fully accept the Torah until the time of Purim. This suggests that Torah is the tikkun (correction) for Amalek and, indeed, all evil.
“If one reads the Megillah in the wrong order (literally, ‘backwards’), he has not fulfilled his obligation.”
The Baal Shem Tov explained that this refers to a person who reads the Megillah believing that the story it tells occurred only in the past (that is, he reads it “backwards,” as a retrospective account) and that the miracle of Purim does not endure into the present. Such a man has not fulfilled his obligation, for the purpose of the reading of the Megillah is to learn how a Jew should behave in the present.
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Within Shechem itself is an allusion to the disturbingly divisive power of Amalek, alluded to by the pasuk:
Why is “Throne” written “kais” and not “kisei”? And why is HaShem’s Name divided in half [yud-heh]? The Holy One, Blessed is He, swears that His Name will not be whole nor His Throne whole until the name of Amalek is completely eradicated. (Rashi)
The existence of Amalek is analogous to the division of HaShem’s Holy Ineffable Name (the Tetragrammaton Name that is not said the way it is written), or, at least, our perception of it. The doubt that Amalek causes, either directly or indirectly, results in the appearance of a separation between the “yud-heh” and the “vav-heh” of HaShem’s Name. Therefore, when we recite the following tefilah before doing a mitzva:
“Amalek—the first foe to attack the people of Israel after they had come out of Egypt as a free nation; twice designated in the Pentateuch as the one against whom war should be waged until his memory be blotted out forever—became in rabbinical literature the type of Israel's arch-enemy. In the tannaitic Haggada of the first century Amalek stands for Rome; and so does Edom (Esau), from whom Amalek descended. A kinsman of the Israelites, Amalek nevertheless displayed the most intense hatred toward them: he inherited Esau's hostility to his brother Jacob. When other nations hesitated to harm God's chosen ones, his evil example induced them to join him in the fray. "Like a robber he waylaid Israel"; "like a swarm of locusts"; "like a leech eager for blood"; "like a fly looking for sores to feed on"; Amalek ('am laḳ = the people which licketh) hurried over hundreds of miles to intercept Israel's march.”
There were noteworthy descendants of Agag: Sages of the Oral Law who learned and taught Torah in Bne Brak! What is the meaning of this dual lineage – Haman on the one hand, and Torah sages on the other? The idea is this: when Amalek lives, there is a gap between the world and the Creator, there is darkness in the world. But because there is darkness there is the opportunity to generate light. Amalek is the darkness, and Torah is the light. If the world is dark, Torah can bring light: because of the darkness there are Sages of the Oral Law who teach Torah, who bring HaShem into the world, as it were. The very same act which creates the gap, which allows an Agag to live and a Haman to be born creates the opportunity for Torah to light the world.
That was Adam’s aim, that was at the root of his calculation to increase his free will, to widen the gap of the world. He was not without justification, he was not without a very compelling logic. Surely, it was wrong. It was not the wish of the Creator, and we are still paying the price; but we can at least glimpse the enormity of the ordeal which he faced. He disobeyed and failed; Hashem wants obedience rather than the greatest of sacrifices, as Shmuel put it: “Are offerings and sacrifices as desirable to HaShem as listening to HaShem’s voice? Behold, hearing is better than a sacrifice, to listen (better) than the fat of lambs.” But from that failure emerged the possibility of correction, from the downfall emerged the possibility of arising.
Amalek’s defeat at the time of Moshe and Yehoshua was great, but Haman’s defeat at the time of Esther was greater. To see the light when it is overpowering is not difficult; to cause the light to shine when darkness seems overpowering is heroic. Purim is the time of masks; HaShem has gone into hiding in Jewish history, He has donned a mask. But He is not distant; if one is distant he does not need a mask to avoid being identified, the distance achieves that. No, a mask is necessary when one is very close and yet wishes to remain hidden.
The world is His mask; nature hides His Presence. But this same world, this same nature, needs only to be peeled back to reveal its Source. The ordeal is doubt; all may appear coincidental, and the Amalek ideology may be found in the culture of today – nothing has absolute meaning or value, all is accident. The mask is heavy and convincing. But that should not deter us from our function, the function of revealing the Reality behind the mask.
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This study was written by
Rabbi Dr. Hillel ben David
Comments may be submitted to:
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 Devarim (Deuteronomy) 25
 Mishnah Berurah OC 685
 Me’am Loez; Devarim vol.3 p. 977
 Amalek’s mother was the illegitimate daughter of Amalek’s father
 Bereshit (Genesis) 36:4
 I Samuel 17:4
 II Samuel 21:16
 Cf. Sefer HaMaamarim 5679, p. 294.
 Our Sages
 see Rabbenu Bachya Shemot 16:17
 Divine Providence
 I learned this insight from: Purim In A New Light, as revealed through the writings of Rabbi Yitzchak Hutner, interpreted and adapted by Rabbi Pinchas Stolper.
 Emunah – faithfully obedient
 Shemot (Exodus) 17:16
 Rashi’s source can be found in Sifrei (Parshat Ki-Teitzei), Mechilto (Parshat B’Shalach), Pesikto Zutr’si (Parshat Ki-Teitzei)
 The Amalekites were great sorcerers and used to transform themselves into animals to escape the attacks of their enemies in war.; See Ketab Tamin 61 and R. Bachya in Ki-Teitzei in regards to the text of Pirke DeRabbi Eleazar 39.
 Rashi, 21:1. and 33:40
 Sanhedrin 20b
 The holy Temple
 I Samuel 8.
 Ibid. 25:19
 Ibid. 12:10. The three were to be in that order.
 [Ms. M. ‘R. Nehemiah.’]
 Ibid. 17:14.
 It was not a command to appoint a king, but a prophecy that Israel would demand one; then, a king having been appointed, he would be subject to the laws stated in the section.
 I Chronicles 29:23. Ramban thus brought proof to the opinion of those scholars mentioned above, who interpret this verse as containing a hint that the reckoning with Amalek is to be deferred until there will be a king in Israel.
 Yeshayahu (Isaiah) chapter 43
 Shemot 31:17
 Tanhuma, Ki Teitzei 7
 A translation of the Tanach into Aramaic
 Shemot 17:11
 Devarim 21:10
 Devarim (Deuteronomy) 25:19
 Bamidbar (Numbers) 24:20
 Sharei Ora
 Shabbat 88a
 Shemot (Exodus) 17:14-16, Devarim (Deuteronomy) 25:19/
 Bacher, "Ag. Tan." i. 146 et seq., 211 et seq.
 Bereshit (Genesis) 36.
 Tan. Ki Teẓe, ix., and Pesiḳ. iii. 26b
 World Mask, Rabbi Akiva Tatz.
 Ibid. 50
 Ibid. 50
 Ibid. 50