At the conclusion of the portion Beshallach ,1 the Torah relates that Moshe appointed Yehoshua to lead the Jews against the attacking Amalekites. During the entire battle Moshe’s hands were raised in prayer that the Jews be victorious. As long as Moshe’s hands were raised, the Jews prevailed.

The Torah goes on to say that when Moshe’s arms grew weary, a stone was taken and placed under him. Rashi2 comments: “Because he was sluggish in performing the commandment [of leading the Jews in battle] and appointed another in his stead, his hands became heavy.”

Why does the Torah tell us that Moshe’s hands grew heavy as a result of his slothful attitude — something entirely uncomplimentary — when the Torah does not even speak directly of the stigma of an unclean animal? It seems inappropriate for the Torah to speak badly of Moshe, the “select of mankind.”

Herein lies an invaluable lesson to all Jews in all places and times with regard to their spiritual battle with the Amalekites of every generation.

Amalek was only able to affect the Jews who straggled so far behind spiritually that as a result of their sins they were evicted from the Jewish encampment and the Clouds of Glory.3 Those who remained within the camp were not at all affected by the Amalekites.

In our times as well, most Jews find themselves spiritually within the “Jewish camp,” within the framework and protection of the “Clouds of Glory” of Torah and mitzvos , which protect them from all ill winds4 — especially from Amalek’s frigid attitude toward Torah and mitzvos.5

There are, however, Jews who for whatever reasons find themselves “on the outside” — their lifestyle is not yet wholly in keeping with Torah. Amalek — whose numerical equivalent is “doubt”6 — is therefore able to attack them by causing them to doubt G‑d’s limitless ability, and by making them “cool” towards matters of holiness.

It is therefore possible that a Jew who finds himself “within the encampment” should question his relationship with those outside, reasoning that since they have no connection with him, he doesn’t want anything to do with them.

Such an individual might well think that leaving his warm nest of Torah and mitzvos to search for Jews lost in the wasteland of doubt is out of the question.

Herein is the lesson provided by the first war the Jews had to wage after their exodus from Egypt, their battle with Amalek:

When Amalek starts up with a Jew who is “outside the encampment,” even if his being there is a result of his own misdeeds, the Jews “within the camp” must leave it in order to protect their weaker brother. In fact, only G‑d-fearing Jews have the ability to vanquish Amalek. Thus we find that it was Yehoshua, an individual “who never left the tent”7 of Torah, who was placed in charge of the battle.

The Torah goes further: Even Moshe, who essentially led the whole war — it was he who appointed Yehoshua as his emissary to lead the battle, and it was Moshe who spiritually led the fight by praying for the welfare of the Jewish people — should have participated in the actual battle. His failure to do so was considered slothfulness.

Herein is a lesson for even the greatest: Spiritual participation in the ongoing battle against Amalek is not enough. Merely praying for the welfare of those attacked by Amalek, or sending one’s emissary, is neither adequate nor acceptable; the person himself must do whatever is necessary to keep his fellow Jews from the clutches of Amalek.

Compiled from Likkutei Sichos , Vol. XXI, pp. 89-99.