Divrei Torah

PARSHAS KI-SEITZEI 5776

At the end of this week’s Parsha, the Torah teaches us, “Remember what Amalek did to you, on the way when you were leaving Egypt.” Why is Amalek so significant? So many nations have oppressed the Jewish people. Why is Amalek alone singled out? 

The truly unique accomplishment of Amalek was that they attacked us when no one else dared. After the splitting of the Sea, the most wicked nations were sufficiently impressed by the Ten Plagues and the splitting of the Sea. They may have wanted to attack, but they were scared enough of G-d to lay off. 

Amalek, on the other hand, was unimpressed. What gave them the temerity to attack, at the very hour that the entire world recognized God's protection of the Jewish People? Why weren't they terrified, too? 

The Talmud explains that Amalek's entire philosophy is that there is no design or providence in the world. Everything is haphazard, dictated by chance, luck and fate. 

As opposed to Amalek, the grandson of Esav - the Jews, descendants of Jacob, represent conscience and morality. The world has purpose and meaning and every individual is created in the image of God. While Jacob believes that God runs the world and there is an absolute standard of morality, Esav believes that life is random ― and morality is therefore subjective. Esav’s hatred for the message of morality actually forms the basis of all anti-Semitism. Just as the Jews stand for the principle of caring for the vulnerable and weak, Amalek is the opposite ― "attacking the weakest people trailing behind". 

There are evil people actively working to eliminate God consciousness from the world. One of Amalek's battle tactics is to create doubt about God's presence, in an attempt to confuse and ultimately destroy the Jewish people. Appropriately, the numerical value of "Amalek" ― 240, is the same value as the Hebrew word safek, meaning "doubt." The Talmud teaches us that if Torah, the source of universal truths, was eliminated, then the world would revert to emptiness. That is because humanity simply cannot survive without clear moral direction. Morality holds civilizations together; its absence leads to chaos. Take a look at the direction of the United States.

The Torah tells us that Amalek will be in every generation. Our job is to defeat Amalek and its message that there is no G-d in this world.

So, how do we counteract Amalek's influence? Strengthen Torah. We cannot become lax. The Torah teaches us that God's presence will not be complete in this world until the name of Amalek is blotted out entirely.

The Torah is the Book of Life. As we approach the new year, we should resolve in our minds to pay closer attention to the Mitzvos and the lessons that the Torah teaches us – among them that G-d is in charge in the world and there is no such thing as coincidence. Then, G-d willing, we will be written in the Book of Life for a year of health, happiness and security for us and all Israel.