Remembering And Obliterating Amalek
The "Men of the Great Assembly" ruled that the portion [ 1 ] "Remember what Amalek did to you on the way as
you came out of Egypt... you shall blot out the memory of Amalek" is to
be publicly read on the Shabbos that precedes Purim. [ 2 ]
Although the Torah commands us to remember any number of seemingly more
important things, including the Exodus, [ 3 ] the giving of the Torah, [ 4 ] the day of Shabbos, [ 5 ] etc., only the remembrance of Amalek is singled
out for a public Torah reading. Why is "Remembering what Amalek did to
you" of such vital importance?
Amalek, who had just witnessed the numerous miracles G-d performed on
behalf of the Jewish people, and who nevertheless went to war against
them, represented one who "knows his Creator and is intent on rebelling
against Him." [ 6 ]
In spiritual terms, this means [ 7 ]
that a Jew must ensure that within himself there is no "Amalek," even on
a subtle level.
It is possible that, within our hearts, there resides an "Amalek" who
endeavors to get us to - Heaven forbid! - rebel against G-d. When one
assiduously remembers the harm that can come from such an "Amalek," one
can rest assured that all such "Amalekian" tendencies will be
This is why remembering Amalek is the only remembrance requiring a
special Torah reading: Torah is master of the world; [ 8 ] associating the remembrance of Amalek with a
special Torah reading makes possible a degree of remembrance that will
eradicate "Amalek" from the person's soul. [ 9 ]
Although it is difficult to imagine that the crass form of Amalek - "He
knows his Creator and is intent on rebelling against Him" - could exist
within a Jew, a more subtle form may be found.
What is this more subtle form of Amalek that we are commanded to guard
The more subtle Amalek [ 10 ] is
not all that bothered by a Jew's knowledge of G-dliness and Torah; on
the contrary, Amalek himself is regarded as possessing knowledge of G-d
- "He knows his Creator." What Amalek rebels against is the translation
of this knowledge into love and fear of G-d in thought, speech and deed,
i.e., leading a life based on Torah and mitzvos.
This subtle Amalek is an even greater rebel than an Amalek who is an
ignoramus. Knowing G-d - understanding how one is to feel about Him and
behave with respect to Him - and nevertheless rebelling against the
translation of this knowledge into feelings and action involves a truly
vehement rebellion against G-d.
On an even more subtle level, knowing the Creator and being intent on
rebelling against Him does not only mean that one's knowledge does not
lead to any feelings or actions; it also means that one's knowledge of
Torah and G-dliness is not translated into commensurate feelings.
This "refined Amalek" must be eliminated within each of us, for it is
quite possible that whatever one's spiritual station in life, one's
feelings about G-d and his actions relating to Him will not live up to
his knowledge of Him. [ 11 ]
This also explains why the battle with Amalek took place soon after the
Exodus, before the Jewish people received the Torah; in a spiritual
sense, Amalek seeks to deny G-d's granting of the Torah to us.
By granting us the Torah in this world, G-d demonstrated that the
ultimate purpose of Torah is not found in a rarefied heavenly
atmosphere, far removed from the world of action; rather, it is the
Torah's impact on our daily conduct that is of primary import. [ 12 ]
Amalek sought to keep the Torah from affecting deeds. Remembering and
obliterating Amalek consists of always translating our knowledge of
Torah and G-dliness into practical feelings and actions.
Based on Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXI, pp. 190-196
- Back to text Devarim 25:17-19.
- Back to text See Magen Avraham 60:2; conclusion of 685; Shulchan Aruch Admur HaZakein, Orach Chayim 282:13.
- Back to text Devarim 16:3.
- Back to text Ibid., 4:9-10.
- Back to text Shmos 20:8.
- Back to text Sefer HaMaamarim 5562, p. 172; Sefer HaMaamarim 5565, Vol. I, p. 395; Derech Mitzvosecha, p. 95a.
- Back to text See Maamar titled Zachor 5665, Ch. 8.
- Back to text See Yerushalmi, Nedarim 6:8.
- Back to text See Sefer HaMaamarim 5680 p. 295. See also Likkutei Torah, Bamidbar 13c.
- Back to text See Torah Or, conclusion of portion Tetzaveh; Sefer HaMaamarim 5565, Vol. I, Maamar titled Zachor; Siddur, Shaar HaPurim; Derech Mitzvosecha, Mitzvas Zechiras Maaseh Amalek.
- Back to text See also Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XVIII, p. 153ff.
- Back to text See Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXI, p. 49 and places cited there.