Rabbi Shlomo Sobol
Former Rosh Kollel in Detroit
The struggle between Amalek and Am Yisrael will accompany the Jewish People throughout history until the Redemption at which time the memory of Amalek will be wiped away from the face of the earth and the name of Hashem and His holy throne will be united and complete.
The first time we encounter Amalek is immediately following the Exodus from Egypt when Am Yisrael is at the early stages of its development as a nation. At the end of the battle with Amalek, the Torah tells us that Hashem says to Moshe, “ I shall surely erase the memory of Amalek from under the Heavens.’ The Torah continues, “Moshe built an altar and called its name “Hashem is my Miracle; and he said, For the hand is on the throne of God; Hashem maintains a war against Amalek, from generation to generation.” (Shemot 17:14-16)
The second time Amalek is mentioned in the Torah is just before Am Yisrael is about to enter Eretz Canaan. There we are commanded to “Remember what Amalek did to you. . . It shall be that Hashem, your God, gives you rest from all your enemies all. . .you shall wipe out the memory of Amalek from under the heaven – you shall not forget!” (Devarim 25: 17-19) We might think that once we settle Eretz Yisrael and live a peaceful life in our own land that we can then forgive Amalek. The Torah tells us that even then we must continue in our efforts to erase the memory of Amalek.
The third time we encounter Amalek is once again in battle during the reign of Shaul and the fourth time is during the events of the story of Megillat Esther in the form of Haman, a descendant of Amalek.
Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik, in Lonely Man of Faith writes in the name of his father that any nation that arises to destroy the Jewish People is to be considered Amalek and it is a Mitzvah to fight it.
Why is this battle with Amalek so significant that it accompanies us throughout our history as a nation?
The Midrash Panim Me’erot on Megillat Esther sheds some light on this question. The Midrash teaches that the ancestors of Amalek are destined to fall “tomorrow” ,as it says, “tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.” (Shemot 17:9) and in the first book of Shmuel, chapter 9:16, “at this time tomorrow I will send a man to you from the land of Benjamin.” Esther too, in Megillat Esther, tells Achashverosh that “tomorrow she will do his bidding.”
What is the significance of “tomorrow” as it reappears in the ongoing story of Amalek ? Why does the Midrash point out the motif of “tommorow”?
It appears that the Midrash is teaching us that the war between Am Yisrael and Amalek is about “tomorrow”, about our future. Amalek attempts to detach civilization from its Creator while Am Yisrael endeavors to connect the world to its roots –back to the Creator. The battle is not about one particular local issue nor is it defined by one time or specific place. This battle for the future continues for generations and is the most important and meaningful battle of all. Will the world and its inhabitants serve as a tool for the manifestation of the greatness of Hashem or not? That is the essence of the struggle between Am Yisrael and Amalek.
Yehi Ratzon – May we merit living in a world devoid of the qualities of Amalek, a world full of goodness and light.