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Why were we not commanded simply to expel Amalek, like the other nations inhabiting the Land? Why did we have to eradicate them?

Eliminating Doubt

Eliminating Doubt

Eliminating Doubt
Why were we not commanded simply to expel Amalek, like the other nations inhabiting the Land? Why did we have to eradicate them?

It is a positive precept from the Torah to eradicate the memory of Amalek, as it is said:
"Remember what Amalek did to you ....Eradicate totally the memory of Amalek" (Deut. 25:17-19)

The question is asked, "Why of all the nations of the earth are we commanded to eradicate Amalek?" In the Torah portion Ki Tisa, it is written: "And I expelled the Cananites, the Emorites the Hittites, the Prizites and Chivites and the Yevussites and, also, the Girgashites." Why are we commanded only to expel them but not to eradicate them?

The seven nations alludes to the seven bad qualities.

It is known that the issue of the seven nations alludes to the seven bad qualities, as is written in the Ba'al Shem Tov's book on the Torah. (Parashat Shemot, comment #12). "Cananite" alludes to love and the passion of coupling associated with the Sefira of Chesed. Hittite is a linguistic allusion to fear, i.e., "evil awe" associated with the Sefira of Gevura. Emorite is the equivalent of pride associated with the Sefira Tiferet. Prizite is equivalent to boldness associated with the Sefira Netzach, i.e., "without awe." The Chivite is associated with the Sefira Hod, an allusion to sadness [the letters of Hod, inverted, spell "Davve" which means "sad"). The Girgashite represents laziness.

The issue of human qualities is that they are not to be annihilated but each quality is to be modulated according to the correct measure [measure and quality are the same word in Hebrew]. Each quality has its good measure that we must pursue diligently. Just as there is destructive envy, there is constructive envy and emulation, i.e., the motivating jealousy amongst students; just as there is good love, there is bad love, good awe and bad awe, etc. Accordingly, we are not commanded to annihilate these nations but to conquer them and bring them within the sacred.

This is not the case with Amalek whose essence is the matter of planting doubt in the existence of divine supervision, as stated in the Torah portion, "Beshalach," that Israel tested the L-rd saying "is G‑d among us or not?" [Ex. 17:7]. and in our opening passage [Deut. 25:17], where it describes, "asher korcha baderech"--"that he happened upon you on the way" implying that everything is accidental. Thus the numerical value of Amalek is the same as that of 'safek,' which means 'doubt.' And since the source of all doubt is the lack of faith in divine supervision, so Balaam prophesied, "Amalek is the first of the nations, and his end is to be destroyed forever" [Num. 24:20], i.e., the root of transgression in thought, the source of the idea that there is no divine supervision in the world.

The early root of Amalek is the primordial serpent that caused all sins.

The early root of Amalek is the primordial serpent that caused all sins, as is written, "the serpent tempted me and I ate" [Gen. 3:13]. The word "tempted," in Hebrew, uses the same letters as the expression, "Is there nothing?" [in Hebrew, "HaYesh Ayin?"]. Only the revelation of the Light of Wisdom can correct this flaw. Through the Torah it is possible to reveal the Creator's supervision over His creatures, and then the doubt will disappear and be replaced by the realization of "Eye to eye they will see when G‑d will return to Zion." Thus there is no sense in conquering ["expelling"] the quality of Amalek; one can only eradicate it by revealing the light of the Torah and then doubt disappears.

Our Sages said, "There is no joy so great as the elimination of doubt." During Purim we benefit from happiness by means of the revelation of the Light of Wisdom that is alluded to by drinking wine. That is why we are commanded to become inebriated etc. until there is confusion between "cursed be Haman and blessed be Mordechai." After the revelation of divine supervision, evil disappears and all is transformed into good; then, indeed, there is no further distinction between "cursed be Haman" and "blessed be Mordechai."

Now we can understand from what those Sages of blessed memory said, "There is no complete throne or complete name of the Creator until the name of Amalek is eradicated," because the Creator's divine supervision and the complete name of the Creator that alludes to "tov umetiv"- "He is good and does good" will be revealed by the light shining from Zion, and this revelation depends upon the eradication of Amalek that is the root of denial of His supervision.

In the verse at the end of BeShalach [passage cited above] "ki yad al kess Yud Keh," the letter "Aleph" is lacking from the word Kess [meaning chair, or throne] and the letters "Vav Keh" are lacking from the name of G‑d. This hints to the secret of "And then from Zion the revelation of light," as it is said, "And light shall go out of Zion" and also, "the L-rd will bless you from Zion." His throne and His Name will both be complete at the time when Amalek shall be annihilated.

Delivered orally; translation by Avraham Sutton.

Copyright 2003 by, a project of Ascent of Safed (// All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this work or portions thereof, in any form, unless with permission, in writing, from Kabbala Online.

Rabbi Avraham Brandwein, the former Rebbe of Stretten,was descended from many of the great chassidic masters including the Maggid of Mezritch, Elimelech of Lizhensk and Levy Yitschak of Berdichev. Born in Israel in 1945, Rabbi Brandwein was the seventh generation in his family to live in Israel. (His family originally settled in Tsfat, the city of Kabbalists.) He was the Rosh Yeshiva of Kol Yehuda Yeshiva of Kabbalah in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, founded in 1967 by his father Rabbi Yehuda-Zvi Brandwein, who was the principal disciple and right hand of Rabbi Yehuda HaLevi Ashlag (Baal HaSulam). Since 1985 he taught Torah, Kabbalah and Chassidut throughout Israel and edited more than twenty volumes of classical Kabbalistic texts. He also served as a rabbi in the Absorption and Immigration Department of the Jewish Agency providing spiritual assistance to many new immigrants. He was known for his openness to people from all walks of life. He passed away a few days before Purim in 5773 (Feb. 2013) after a long struggle with illness.
Avraham Sutton is an Orthodox Torah teacher and author. Born in 1949 in Los Angeles to Syrian Sefardic parents, he has lived in the Jerusalem area since 1974, where he and his wife Esther have raised a family. For over 25 years, he has been learning and teaching Kabbala, Talmud, Midrash, prayer and meditation. He has translated, edited and/or authored over 15 major works in English on the deeper significance of Torah for our age. These include Innerspace -- Introduction to Kabbalah, Meditation and Prophecy from transcripts of classes given by the late Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, and Pathways to the Torah, the official sourcebook used in Arachim and Discovery Seminars worldwide.You can partake of his lectures on YouTube -- search for "Rabbi Sutton".
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Mattisyahu NY February 22, 2013

Thank you, dear Rav Brandwein, may your memory be a blessing to all Yisrael. Reply

Mrs. Beatriz Reis March 2, 2012

Thank you so much for conveying a deeper understanding of the meaning of Amalek. (Planting) doubt in the existence of divine supervision....serious business, very serious business. Thanks again. Reply

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