Why do Chazal ask this question only about this parsha? We read earlier in Beshalacha that Moshe stretched his hand over the Yam to cause it to split, yet we don’t find a Mishna that asks, “Could Moshe’s hands have caused the Yam to split?” Why not?There is a fundamental difference between the destruction of Mitzrayim and the battle against Amalek. The plagues and the splitting of Yam Suf that destroyed Egypt were overt, supernatural miracles that proved that G-d could bend the rules of nature for the sake of Klal Yisrael. The battle against Amalek proved that G-d was with Bnei Yisrael even when they fought without bending the rules. Moshe had to choose soldiers, he had to select a general (Yehoshua), Bnei Yisrael had to use arms and go out to fight – this was war being fought as any other people wage war.
In the parsha immediately preceding the war against Amalek, Bnei Yisrael complained that they did not know, “Ha’yesh Hashem b’kirbeinu…” They knew that G-d was “out there,” so to speak, in the heavens, ready to perform miracles when needed, but what Bnei Yisrael was missing was the sense that G-d was involved in the day to day of their lives, among them and working behind the scenes to protect and help them. The war against Amalek was an answer to this complaint.Obviously the hands of Moshe have no power to bring about the supernatural. But, writes the Netzi”v, the war against Amalek was not a war waged through supernatural means – it was a war conducted b’derech ha’teva. Therefore, it is specifically in this context that Chazal ask what role Moshe’s hands played in winning or losing the battle. Why would b’derech ha’teva the raising of Moshe’s hands or the lowering of his hands have made any difference?
The answer, Chazal teach us, is that Moshe’s hands directed the tefilos of Am Yisrael. Tefilah is not a supernatural, miraculous means of getting help. Tefillah is part and parcel of how the derech ha’teva works. As Rashi writes in Parshas Braishis, the rains did not fall until Adam was there to daven for them. Rain is a natural phenomenon, but nature following its course also requires our tefilos.