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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.
Artwork by Sarah Kranz.
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Discussion (91)
January 1, 2015
Totally agree, Francine - indeed, Chabad had a fascinating video about a guy who was the son of a nazi, and converted to Judaism and addressed a Chabad conference (can't do links, but search on the Chabad site for "I am the son of a nazi"). So change is possible, and this is what worries me about any commandment to "wipe out" the entire "seed" of a nation or tribe. If the son of a nazi can overcome that upbringing, surely the far, far descendants of a king who lived 3,000 years ago can do the same!
Chris
Leicester
December 31, 2014
problem with the idea that the Almalekite attitude is "inborn"
If a person believes that other people have "inborn" attitudes there will always be prejudice and hatred. Yes, fight antisemitism, but don't assume anyone is incapable of choosing their attitudes (although some people have a greater chance of being prejudiced against things they don't understand, and this is true for Jews and non-Jews alike. These people usually are psychologically unstable, as well as often being poorly taught). Don't single out a group of people, whether Jew or Gentile.
Francine Allen
Northville
December 1, 2014
Amalek Nemesis of Godliness
I agree with you that Amalek still exists today, but not as a country with citizens. However, I disagree that it has morphed and is inside of each one of us. Amalek exists in the people in ISIS, Hamas, and Hezbollah, and any other group who wants to wipe out the Jewish people and any people who support the Jews. Amalek was evil incarnate, and it still exists today. This is why God is the one who will destroy them utterly when the time comes, because He alone will know who is Amalek and who is not. This is all of Israel's enemies--this is Armeggedon. Only He can see people's hearts and what's in them.
JD Judah
Colorado Springs, CO, USA
November 12, 2014
Hmm so Amaleks attacked when Jews left Egypt. Where did they get all the supplies, food, money and substances needed for the impossible trip. They randomly attacked because of "inborn hatred"? And Ramses came back because he changed his mind? or because somehow riches might have been stolen from Egypt or Amaleks. Lets look into that.
Anonymous
September 6, 2014
The Amalekites Are Still Alive and "Kicking"
King Saul did not kill all the Amalekites. He spared their king, Agag. That was one of his big blunders. It was Samuel who executed Agag later on, the last of the Amalekites. At last the commandment to wipe out the Amalekites had been fulfilled. And so it seemed. But not really. Hundred of years later a descendant of Agag came out of the blue. His name was Haman. How could that be? I do not know. But the Book of Esther said so. And so today, hundred of years later, there is nothing new under the sun, Ecclessiates points out. They're still here, desirous to "kick" us out.
Billy Balano
Toronto
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
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