האתגר של עמלק
שליחה לשעבר באוסלו
This Shabbat we shall be reading Parashat Zachor.
Both men and women are obliged to hear Parashat Zachor because the Torah commands us to remember what Amalek did to us.
What did Amalek actually do to us? What is so special about this war that we had with them?
It turns out that what Amalek did is not so simple; as it says, " …. The Lord will make war against Amalek from generation to generation”. (Exodus Ch. 17, v. 16).
G-d doesn’t usually dwell on details. When He wanted to create the world, He said what had to be created and it was done immediately. There was no process. It just happened immediately.
But here we find that G-d is involved in a process. After all, war is an intermediate stage between disagreement and the settlement of an outcome, eventually favouring the stronger side. A war usually breaks out when both sides have similar strengths. However, here we seem to have a situation in which a force presents G-d with an ongoing, unresolved challenge which will carry on from generation to generation!
What is this force? How can it be that there is something in this world that G-d cannot overcome?
Let us examine who Amalek is.
We first encountered Amalek when the Children of Israel left Egypt.
The surrounding nations heard how Israel rebelled against Egypt, the largest and strongest empire in the world at the time, but they were afraid to attack us.
At this point, Amalek chose to attack.
As a nation of bandits, living on what they stole, they could have chosen a less-dangerous or less-threatening target. But they chose to attack Israel. Our Sages say that Amalek wanted to prove that it was fate that enabled Israel to conquer Egypt, not G-d’s protection.
How could they prove such a thing?
They attacked Israel.
If Amalek would have won, they would have proven that it was only luck that redeemed Israel. You win some, you lose some.
Had Amalek lost — well, that wouldn't have proven anything. It could have been that Israel again got lucky.
Haman acted the same way.
He decided to try something big: destroying the whole nation.
Of course, such a project would require precise organization and planning. We know well how the Nazis, may their names be erased, organized the extermination of the Jews.
But it is so odd that Haman decided on the starting date of the extermination of the Jews just by a throw of the dice.
You would think that such a momentous decision wouldn't be left to chance, but it was important for Haman to emphasize the element of chance.
In the Gemara, Rabbi Chanina says "Everything is in hands of G-d except for the fear of G-d." G-d intervenes and changes anything He wants except our power of faith.
G-d can create tremendous miracles, but only Man can either acknowledge the miracle and G-d's power or say that it was just a result of natural phenomena, coincidence or luck.
Amalek is the source of doubt. In every generation, it tries to prove that G-d does not protect His people and that there is no higher power but coincidence, fate, luck.
We are constantly surrounded by miracles and by proof of the existence of G-d. The fight to recognize this and to loudly proclaim the existence of miracles is the war against Amalek.