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Shabbat Zachor – The awful sin of Amalek – Rabbi Meir Kahane

“Remember what Amalek did to you, on the way, when you were leaving Egypt, that he happened upon you on the way, and he struck those of you who were hindmost, all the weaklings at your rear, when you were faint and exhausted, and he did not fear G-d. It shall be that when Hashem, your G-d, gives you rest from all your enemies around, in the Land that Hashem, your G-d, gives you as an inheritance to possess it, you shall wipe out the memory of Amalek from under the heaven – you shall not forget!” (Deut. 25:17-19, Maftir of Shabbat Zachor)

Amalek’s sin is the great and eternal sin of those who refuse “to know Hashem” and to accept His yoke upon themselves, and who thereby desecrate His Name. The Children of Israel were on the way, and the word ba-derekh (“on the way”) appears here twice, indicating that they were both on the way out of Egypt and on the way to the Land of Israel: both of these components together prove G-d’s power and might in the eyes of the nations, so that they would accept the yoke of His sovereignty. And now Amalek, the foremost and most brazen representative of “I do not know Hashem” launches himself against Israel, in an attempt to demonstrate both to Israel and to the rest of the world that G-d has no power, and that He is not the G-d of history. (Peirush HaMaccabee, Sefer Dvarim, Chapter 25)

This is the key to understanding why G-d was more angry at Amalek than at any other nation. . This was the awful sin of Amalek, regarding which it is said (Ex. 17:16), “The hand is on G-d's throne. The L-rd shall be at war with Amalek for all generations”. Our sages also comment (Pesikta Rabbati, Ch. 12): “The hand is on G-d's throne”: R. Levi said in the name of R. Chama of the school of R. Chaninah, “So to speak, as long as Amalek's offspring are on earth, G-d's name is not complete [In the verse, “G-d” is represented by the short form yud-kei], neither is His throne complete [represented by kes rather than kisei]. Once Amalek's seed is uprooted, G-d's throne is complete and His name is complete”. King David said, “Enemy! The waste places are come to an end forever, and the cities which you did uproot, their very memorial is perished” (Ps. 9:7). What follows? “But the L-rd is enthroned forever. He has established His throne for judgment.”

Amalek set out to annihilate Israel, as our sages said (Tanchuma Yashan, Yitro 4), “Why was it called 'Amalek'? Because it is am lak, 'the nation that licks'. Amalek set out to lap up Israel's blood like a dog.” Even more than this, however, Amalek came openly to insult G-d and blot out His name. Mechilta (Ibid., Parshah 1) comments regarding (Ex. 17:8), “Amalek arrived”: “Amalek came openly. In all their other attacks they came in stealth...but not here.”

Amalek attacked G-d's throne, as our sages said (Tanchuma, Ki Tetze, 11): One verse reads, “You must obliterate the memory of Amalek” (Deut. 25:19), and another reads, “I will totally obliterate the memory of Amalek” (Ex. 17:14). How can the two verses coexist? Until Amalek attacked G-d's throne, Israel were commanded to obliterate them. Henceforth, however, G-d said He would do so Himself. Can flesh and blood attack G-d's throne? Rather, because they destroyed Jerusalem, of which it says (Jer. 3:17), “At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the L-rd”, G-d said He would obliterate them.

Amalek's sin is the waging of brazen warfare against G-d, as they did when Israel left Egypt. Yet when any other nation, as well, curses and fights G-d, Amalek's sin clings to them and they become like Amalek. Thus, although Amalek, the nation, did not destroy Jerusalem, our sages say that Jerusalem's destruction constituted Amalek attacking G-d's throne. This teaches that whoever attacks G-d's throne is called Amalek. We must understand and remember this principle for our own times.

Since, in the nations' eyes, Israel's weakness and lowliness, and their suffering at the nations' hands, are interpreted as G-d's weakness and inability to save His people, and that is a Chilul Hashem, it follows that Israel's power, exaltation and victory over their own enemies and the blasphemous enemies of G-d is a Kiddush Hashem.

[For illustration, this is a quote from one of Rabbi Kahane's earlier popular books, “Listen World, Listen Jew” pp. 120-122] Do you want to know how the Name of G-d is desecrated in the eyes of the mocking and sneering nations? It is when the Jew, His people, His Chosen, is desecrated! When the Jew is beaten, G-d is profaned! When the Jew is humiliated – G-d is shamed! When the Jew is attacked – it is an assault upon the name of G-d![...] What he [the non-Jewish persecutor] is really saying is: “There is no L-rd, there is no G-d of Israel and if there is, He is an impotent and helpless god. For if He truly existed as the Omnipotent and All-powerful Sovereign of the Universe, His people would not be in exile, they could not be at my mercy, they could not be beaten and shamed and humiliated by me.”

This is the desecration of G-d's name. Every pogrom is a desecration of the Name. Every Auschwitz and expulsion and murder and rape of a Jew is the humiliation of G-d. Every time a Jew is beaten by a gentile because he is a Jew, this is the essence of Chilul Hashem. An end to Exile – that is Kiddush Hashem. An end to the shame and the beatings and the monuments to our murdered and our martyred. An end to Kaddish and prayers for the dead. A shaking off of the dust of the Exile and its shame and a return to a Jewish state of our own created with the fire and the spitting of Jewish guns. A Jewish fist in the face of an astonished gentile world that had not seen it for two millenia. This is Kiddush Hashem. Reading angry editorials about Jewish “aggression” and “violations” rather than flowery eulogies over dead Jewish victims. That is Kiddush Hashem.

The State of Israel came into being not because the Jew deserved it, but because the gentile did. It came into being not because the Jew was worthy of it but because the Name of G-d had reached its fill of humiliation and desecration. “I do this not for your sake, O House of Israel, but for Mine holy Name's sake which ye have profaned among the nations”. [...]

G-d established a principle that as long as Israel possesses a sovereign government with the power to blot out Amalek's memory, it is a mitzvah and a duty for them to do so. For this reason our sages said (Sifri, Re'eh, 67): Israel were commanded regarding three mitzvot for when they entered the Land: to appoint a king, build the Temple and destroy Amalek's seed. I would not know which one comes first if not for Scripture saying, “The hand is on G-d's throne. The L-rd shall be at war with Amalek for all generations” (Ex. 17:16). As long as a king sits on G-d's throne, we destroy Amalek's seed. How do we know that “G-d's throne” refers to a king? It says (I Chronicles 29:23), “Solomon sat on G-d's throne to reign”.

We must understand that today, with G-d kindly having restored our land and sovereignty, we must once more share with Him in blotting out Amalek if its existence is clear to us.

[Asides from current events like Arab attacks on Israel, Iran’s threats and other brazen attempts to delegitimize or coerce Israel, there is one more aspect of this in our times, mentioned by Rabbi Kahane in another one of his popular books, “Uncomfortable Questions for Comfortable Jews”, p. 271]: Jewish self-respect and honor must be resurrected with an end to the humiliating obscenity of carefree political relations with the Amalek of our times, Germany. Was there a greater abomination than that of Israel establishing relations with Germany less than a decade after Auschwitz? And for money reparations, of course! Today, there is not the slightest feeling of guilt on the part of the Israelis who happily travel on business or vacation to Munich and Frankfurt and Hamburg; many of whom live there. There is no guilt on the part of a state that regularly sends youth on cultural and sports excursions to walk on the land stained with Jewish blood. There is no guilt felt when Jewish and Israeli leaders [...] travel to Germany and eat and drink with the Germans at state dinners, or when a high-ranking German official arrives in Israel and the Israeli army band plays the German national anthem, “Deutschland Uber Alles” as the new Hebrews stand at attention with respect. The Germans owe us reparations. The money does not absolve them of one sin, of one crime, of one murder. But they owe us reparations for property and we owe them nothing. Political and cultural ties will be cut with the Germans and they will be expected to fulfill, to the letter, their obligations to the Jewish people.[...]

G-d will go forth to avenge His great name, profaned among the nations, and to avenge the Jewish People, through whose humiliation and distress at the hands of the nations His name was profaned. The Prophet Obadiah was an Edomite convert, as our sages say (Sanhedrin 39b): “Obadiah was an Edomite convert, illustrating the adage that, 'the axe comes from the very forest.' Rashi explains, “From the forest, itself, comes the wood for the handle of the axe that chops it down. Such was Obadiah to Edom and David to Moab, David being descended from Ruth the Moabite.

Who, as much as Obadiah, a former non-Jew, knew the nations hatred of the Jewish People! Addressing the redemption, Obadiah prophesied (Obadiah 8-12, 15): Surely, says the L-rd, on that day I shall destroy the wise men out of Edom, and understanding out of the Mount of Esau. Your mighty men, O Yemen, shall be dismayed, such that everyone from the Mount of Esau shall be cut off by slaughter. For your violence against your brother Jacob, shame shall cover you and you shall be cut off forever. On the day that you stood aloof, that strangers took his force captive and foreigners entered his gates and cast lots upon Jerusalem, you too were one of them. You should not have looked on the day of your brother, the day of his misfortune, nor rejoiced over the children of Judah on the day of their destruction. [...] For the day of the L-rd is near upon all the nations. As you have done, so shall be done to you. Your deeds shall return upon your own head.

As long as exile and servitude were decreed for Israel, G-d restrained Himself. Hence, the fools thought He did not exist, and they mocked the Jewish people (Ps. 115:2): “Why should the nations say, 'Where is their G-d'”? Yet His silence in the face of His name being profaned was a heroic act. G-d, despite His silence, has not forgotten the insult, there being no forgetting before His throne of glory. Revenge is concealed with Him for the future, sealed up in His treasury, and vengeance and retribution are His.

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