November 29, 2012
Rabbi Gershon Avtzon in #858, Amalek, Moshiach & Geula

Why was Amalek singled out from all nations that fought with the Jews to be eradicated? * We will remember Amalek as an encouragement for our learning as a reminder from history as to what happens if Jews do not toil in Torah.

Dear Reader sh’yichyeh:

The Rambam writes (Seifer HaMitzvos): “The 189th mitzvah is that we are commanded to constantly verbally remember what Amalek did to us – i.e. to be the first to attack us [after we were redeemed from Egypt] – and to speak of it constantly, to arouse people to wage war against them and hate them, in order that it not be forgotten or the hatred towards them lessened with the passage of time. The source of this commandment is G‑d’s statement (exalted be He), ‘Remember what Amalek did to you. [Do not forget.]’”

Why was Amalek singled out from all nations that fought with the Jews to be eradicated? The Midrash (Tanchuma), quoted by Rashi, brings a fascinating parable: “To what is the incident [of Amalek] comparable? To a boiling tub of water which no creature was able to enter. Along came one evildoer and jumped into it. Although he was burned, he cooled it for the others. So, too, when Israel came out of Egypt, and G‑d split the sea before them and drowned the Egyptians within it, the fear of them fell upon all the nations. But when Amalek came and challenged them, although he received his due from them, he cooled the awe of the nations of the world for them.”

The Rambam (Hilchos Melachim 1:1) writes: Israel was commanded to fulfill three mitzvos upon entering the Promised Land:

To choose a king, as Deuteronomy 17:15 states: ‘Appoint a king over yourselves;’

To wipe out the descendants of Amalek, as Deuteronomy 25:19 states: ‘Erase the memory of Amalek;’

To build G-d’s Chosen House, as Deuteronomy 12:5 states: ‘Seek out His Presence and go there.’

The appointment of a king should precede the war against Amalek. This is evident from Samuel’s charge to King Saul (I Samuel 15: l-3): “G-d sent me to anoint you as king … Now, go and smite Amalek.” Amalek’s seed should be annihilated before the construction of the Temple, as II Samuel 7:1-2 states: “And it came to pass, when the king dwelled in his palace, and G-d gave him peace from all his enemies who surrounded him, the king said to Nathan, the prophet: ‘Look! I am dwelling in a house of cedar … but the ark of G-d dwells within curtains.’”

It would make sense that this Mitzva of remembering Amalek should apply until the time of Moshiach. Until then, there are still many people from the seed of Amalek that are in existence. We must constantly remember Amalek and awaken in ourselves the fire against Amalek.

There is also the spiritual Amalek that we fight in the time of exile. Of Amalek it is said, “Karcha-he made you cool off” (Ki Seitzei 25:18). That is, he cooled Israel’s fervor and enthusiasm for G-dliness after the exodus from Egypt on their way to Sinai to receive the Torah. This spiritual Amalek is anything that might cool our bond with Torah and mitzvos. It is our task to fend off this spiritual Amalek and clear a path to the revelation of the inner dimension of the Torah that will be manifested by Moshiach, speedily in our days.

Once Moshiach comes and eradicates Amalek there would seem no need to keep mentioning Amalek. Yet, the Halachic authorities (Minchas Chinuch 603, Targum Yonasan Seitzei 25:19 and others) rule that we will be mentioning the story of Amalek even in the says of Moshiach!

The Lubavitcher Rebbe (Likkutei Sichos Vol. 21, page 192, footnote 26) quotes an interesting explanation of the Mileches Shloma: The reason we mention Amalek is not just to excite us to get rid of Amalek, rather to remember what caused the ability for Amalek to wage war with the Jewish People.

The Torah (Shmos 17:8) tells us: “Amalek came and fought with Israel in Refidim.” What is the significance of knowing where Amalek fought with the Jewish people? Commentaries explain that the word “Refidim” means weak. At that point, the Jewish people were weak in their Torah learning. That allowed Amalek to start a war with the Jewish people. By remembering Amalek, it is a reminder to the Jewish people to always remain strong in their Torah learning.

In the times of Moshiach, the Jewish people will be immersed in Torah learning. As Rambam writes (Hilchos Melachim 12:4 ), “The Sages and the prophets did not yearn for the Messianic era in order to have dominion over the entire world, to rule over the gentiles, to be exalted by the nations, or to eat, drink, and celebrate. Rather, they desired to be free to involve themselves in Torah and wisdom without any pressures or disturbances… Therefore, the Jews will be great sages and know the hidden matters, grasping the knowledge of their Creator according to the full extent of human potential, as Isaiah 11:9 states: ‘The world will be filled with the knowledge of G-d as the waters cover the ocean bed.” We will remember Amalek as an encouragement for our learning as a reminder from history as to what happens if Jews do not toil in Torah.

Rabbi Avtzon is the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Lubavitch Cincinnati and a well sought after speaker and lecturer. Recordings of his in-depth shiurim on Inyanei Geula u’Moshiach can be accessed at


Article originally appeared on Beis Moshiach Magazine (
See website for complete article licensing information.