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Wipe Out Amalek, Today?

Wipe Out Amalek, Today?



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?


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
Artwork by Sarah Kranz.
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Anonymous August 23, 2017

@Anonymous 11/12/14: Your accusation doesn't even make logistical sense. If someone stole the supplies you needed for daily survival, would you still be hunting down the thieves forty years later?
The rest is very well covered in the Scripture itself. A "mixed multitude" of Hebrews and their allies left with as many of their existing possessions as they could carry, including voluntary donations from sympathetic Egyptian civilians. Long-term clothing and food needs were covered miraculously: Clothes were prevented from wearing out, and food literally rained from the sky. God constantly brought them water fountains from underground. That doesn't sound like a very expensive trip after all.
(I'm morbidly curious as to what you think Haman's real issue was.)
As for the pharaoh's behavior, it's striking how similarly he acts to a domestic abuser. Constantly changing his mind, violently overreacting to the slightest perceived challenge, getting even worse when she tries to escape for real? Reply

LB TX July 13, 2017

killing in words is not Biblical Reply

Anonymous March 9, 2017

המן who was from amalek tried to annihilate the Jews. Reply

Bro. Barry Davis USA November 5, 2016

"love your fellow irrationally" I would like to know a little more into your thoughts regarding this statement.... Reply

Phil Thailand November 21, 2015

The Amalekite Spirit The reason the Children of Israel wandered for 40 years in Sinai area, instead of a 2-week trip, is that they're always second guessing G-d. Most are still in a spiritual wilderness: if you think Iran, Hizbollah, Hamas, palestinian radicals, ISIS et al are"internal threats", then I have little hope for some of you, despite my affection for you. Time to look outwards and upwards.
Have you considered the rise of the Turkish Ottoman Empire (TOE) again? It has been mortally wounded 98 years already. I believe it is the toes of Daniel's vision of a huge idol, representing the great Kingdoms of the Middle East. This won't be an internal threat: read Ezekiel 38,39.
G-d bless you
Your challenge is to find the "rock, not cleaved with human hands" that crushes this idol. I have, why not you? Reply

Y ahcov Yahudah Yisrael September 23, 2017
in response to Phil:

I hear you , loud and clear. Reply

gerrit morren netherlands November 20, 2015

Real or transitive? If this mitzvah (commandment) is nowadays to be taken as confronting an internal enemy, why didn't it have that meaning at the time the Amalakite nation was destroyed from man to woman to child to cattle when the command was forged?

Do the ultra-orthodox think of this divine commandment as transitive? Or are they discussing among themselves if Amalek is still in this world and should be physically destroyed? Reply

Chris Leicester 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! Reply

Francine Allen Northville 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. Reply

JD Judah Colorado Springs, CO, USA 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. Reply

Anonymous 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. Reply

Billy Balano Toronto 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. Reply

Anonymous Montreal 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. Reply

Josh P 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? Reply

Phil Chaing Mai 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. Reply

Gerald Collins 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. Reply

Bret McElroy USA 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.


Bret Reply

Karen Joyce Chaya Fradle Kleinman Bell Riverside, CA, USA via 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! Reply

Phil Chiang Mai, Thailand 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. Reply

Marty Denver 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. Reply

Nissen 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. Reply

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