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Wipe Out Amalek, Today?

Wipe Out Amalek, Today?

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Question:

I like your modern interpretations of biblical Judaism. But it seems that you pick and choose what commandments are still relevant, and just ignore the primitive ones. For example, the Torah commands the Israelites to wage an eternal war against the nation of Amalek, and to wipe them out totally. If the word of G‑d is eternal, why aren't you armed and dangerous, seeking out Amalekites to kill?

Answer:

I've got news for you -- I do seek out Amalekites. Between you and me, I've even killed a few. You should try it, it's not nearly as bad as it sounds. No one gets hurt, and it feels great. But first you have to learn to identify who Amalek really is.

Amalek was an ancient Middle Eastern nation that had an inborn hatred towards Israel. The Amalekites took any opportunity to attack Jews for absolutely no reason. There was no land dispute or provocation that caused this hatred - it was an intrinsic pathological need to destroy G‑d's people. Such hatred cannot be combatted through diplomacy. There was no option to re-educate the Amalekites or review their school curricula. Their hatred was not taught - it was ingrained. As long as an Amalekite walked the earth, no Jew was safe. It was a clear case of kill or be killed. A Jew had to take the command to kill Amalek quite literally - his life depended on it.

In time, the Amalekite nation assimilated into the people around them. Their inborn hatred became diluted as their national identity dissolved, and the command to kill them became impossible to fulfill. This was no accident of fate. The G‑d who authored the Torah is also the Author of history. He decided that the time had come that this command should no longer apply in its literal sense. It was time for the Jewish people to move on.

But this doesn't mean that Amalek has disappeared. Amalek is alive and well today, albeit in a different form. No longer a foreign nation, today's Amalek is an internal enemy. We each have an Amalekite lurking within our very self. The inner Amalek is unholy cynicism. That little voice inside each of us that derides, belittles and attacks truth and goodness; our irrational tendency to mock people who act morally, to be cynical when we see altruism, to doubt our own or other's sincerity - these are the modern day Amalekites. They wage a lethal war with our soul. If we let it, cynicism can kill our every attempt to improve ourselves and smother any move towards refining our character and expressing our soul.

There is only one effective response to Amalek's attacks: Annihilation. Don't argue back, it won't work. The power of cynicism is that it is irrational. The most inspiring, uplifting and profound moment of spiritual awakening can be dismissed in an instant by Amalek's sarcastic taunts. The most logical and sound arguments can be deflected with his quick one-liners -- "Get real!", "Who ya kidding?" or "Hey, you think you're so holy-moly?" There is no answer to such cheap pot-shots. You can't fight cynicism with reason. Just wipe it out. No dialogue. No compromise. Erase it from the face of your soul.

Next time your cynical Amalekite raises his ugly head, stomp on it. Beat him at his own game: Do good things for no good reason. Be kind without an explanation. Love your fellow irrationally. Become the hero of your own inner battle, and free your captured soul--kill an Amalekite today.

Aron Moss is rabbi of the Nefesh Community in Sydney, Australia, and is a frequent contributor to Chabad.org.
About the artist: Sarah Kranz has been illustrating magazines, webzines and books (including five children’s books) since graduating from the Istituto Europeo di Design, Milan, in 1996. Her clients have included The New York Times and Money Marketing Magazine of London.
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Discussion (86)
December 26, 2013
RE: Baby Amalek
That is an excellent (and deeply troubling) question. Here is an article where you can see an enlightening perspective from Rabbi Tzvi Freeman.
Anonymous
Montreal
December 9, 2013
Baby Amalek
I still don't understand why Jewish people had to wipe out baby Amaleks. It would be better to kidnap them so they would grow up in a normal house. Why kill the babies?
Josh P
March 21, 2013
Wipe out Amalek today?
People like Gerald Collins like to take the 'intellectual' high ground and dismiss spiritual strongholds as irrelevant.. But his 'just so' dismissal is unfounded. The Amalek spirit is anti-Israel and ask those people how secure they feel as Iran races towards nuclear bomb capability.

To deny spiritual strongholds both within and external to the Nation of Israel is to be totally ignorant of eschatological scriptures. The spiritual realm is more real than the so-called 'natural' or created realm.

Yes, skepticism and 'rationalism' are modern diseases, as is apathy. Only believe.
Phil
Chaing Mai
March 18, 2013
Amelekites are dead
Saul king of Israel kill the last of them and they are to be remembered no more. There is no record after King Saul engaged King Agag. No mention of them is found in the biblical record.
You appear to be fighting a straw man that you have created, leave them dead where they fell.
Gerald Collins
January 20, 2013
Agree & Disagree
Sure, we all have to defeat the “Amalek” within . . . but make no mistake, Amalek is a Muslim and he still wants to wipe the Jews off the face of the earth. Call it what it is . . . It’s Islam and it’s Satanic!

I pray for Israel regularly.

Blessings,

Bret
Bret McElroy
USA
September 6, 2012
What a beautiful heart you have, Phil.
May G-d bring you blessings in Thailand. It is good to know people there do support the Israeli existence. Thank you!
Karen Joyce Chaya Fradle Kleinman Bell
Riverside, CA, USA
jewishriverside.com
September 5, 2012
Chosen and rejected people
Maybe, just maybe, if the Children of Israel had followed G-d's command to exterminate all Canaanites/Amalekites including their livestock, Israel would be at peace today, instead of waiting for Iran and its extremist Islamic and other allies to annihilate Israel.

I believe G-d was showing how communicable sin is, and that coexistence would lead to depravity/idolatry, which happened. Now is a new dispensation and only G-d has the right to judge and remove unteachable people and races from the scene.

The above comment re: "God's Chosen People" is excellent. The Children of Israel were chosen to be a moral example to the World, a rather onerous task! We can ALL chose to be "chosen", simply by welcoming G-d as Father into our lives. "Many are called, but few are chosen" means few want to be chosen, tragically.
Phil
Chiang Mai, Thailand
September 1, 2012
An alternative view
The author says, "The most logical and sound arguments can be deflected with his quick one-liners -- "Get real!" or "Hey, you think you're so holy?" There is no answer to such cheap pot-shots. You can't fight cynicism with reason. Just wipe it out. No dialogue. No compromise. Erase it from the face of your soul."
I agree that you can't win using logic. But you might connect through understanding. What is the person feeling and needing? So if they hate us, why not ask what needs of theirs are being met by that hate? Last time I tried, it turned out he was angry because he thought we called ourselves the chosen people and he was jealous, he wanted respect, to know that God 'chose' him too. By explaining what is meant by 'chosen', not that we are better but that we have a job to do and that if we are God's 1st born that means he is God's child too, all this helped him feel at ease; it took the sting out of his anger. The Talmud says: Who is mighty? He who can turn an enemy into a friend.
Marty
Denver
August 31, 2012
Third way
When looked at closely the short portion of the mitzvah to remember what Amalek did to you and the statement to blot out the memory of Amalek point to another way of looking at the text. Rashi tells us that the word karchaw expresses cold and heat. Amalek wanted to cool the Jews off from their devotion to G-d. Looked at this way , anyone or anything that will try to cool us off from serving G-d properly is an Amalek and ( since destroying people in these times is not good) must be avoided and demonized in a person's own mind. Remember we are told to remember what Amalek did to us. His memory is not at all important. His actions, driven by hatred need to be shunned at all costs.
Nissen
August 31, 2012
Again, if we had a textbook in school
And told the children just to disregard what it says because it REALLY means something quite different, one would ask, then, logically, why the need for the text in the textbook?
Karen Joyce Chaya Fradle Kleinman Bell
Riverside, CA, USA
jewishriverside.com
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