Tuesday, February 16, 2010

how to fulfill mechiyas Amalek

Purim and Parshas Zachor are quickly approaching; our attention at this time of year turns to the perennial war with Amalek and the opportunity to fulfill the mitzvos of zecher Amalek, the lav of lo tishkach, and the mitzvah of mechiyas Amalek. The first two mitzvos on that list are relatively easy to fulfill, but you probably think the last one is near impossible to fulfill, at least not without being prepared for a long prison stay. But not so, as we shall see. I don't think it's coincidental that Parshas Zachor is the only krias haTorah that we do which is a kiyum d’oraysa. R' Elchanan Wasserman hy"d writes in Ikvesa d'Meshicha:

ודבר זה גלתה לנ תורה בהכתוב וילחם עם ישראל ברפידים ופירשו רז״ל שנרמז לנו בזה מפני מהי׳ כח עמלק להלחם עם ישראל
שרפו ידיהם מדרי תורה ולמדנו מזה כי סיבת כחו ועיזוזו של עמלק הוא ברפיוננו בלימוד תורה. ואם כן כל מה שמתגבר אצלנו הרפיון בד״ת מתגבר כחו של עמלק. ולהפך אם נתחזק בלמוד התורה יחלש כחו של עמלק

The ability of our enemies to pose a threat is directly related to our spiritual imperfection. Chazal teach us that Amalek was able to attack because of a lack of intensity in our Torah learning. Seems to me that remembering what happened and fulfilling zecher with a public Torah reading is more than a simple commemoration -- it is a corrective action which undoes that spiritual flaw. We failed in our Torah study efforts, and so we fulfill zecher by studying and reading Torah. R' Elchanan goes a step further:

וכל אדם משראל הלומד תורה או מחזיקה מחליש במדה ידועה כחו של עמלק ויש לו איזה חלק במצות מחיית עמלק

Since Amalek was empowered by our lack of Torah learning, the mitzvah of obliterating Amalek can be fulfilled by learning Torah! Now, you might think this is a nice derasha, but not meant to be taken literally. R' Elchahan adds in the very next line:

ואין אלו דברי דרוש כי צריכין אנו להאמין בפירושי רז״ל למקראות שהן דברים כהווייתן ממש

Just because something appears in a Midrash is not license to ignore it -- Chazal meant their explication to be taken seriously. In this case it establishes a new geder for the kiyum mitzvah of mechiyas Amalek, one which is very much in our power to fulfill.

1 comment:

  1. Dr Pinchas Kohn told the Gerrer Rebbe in 1916 that Germany is Amalek

    pc :-)