Mechiyas Amalek 

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By Rabbi Berach Steinfeld

In Shemos, Perek Yud Zayin, posuk tes zayin, the Torah says there should be a war of Hashem against Amalek from generation to generation. There are two places in the Torah that the war against Amalek is mentioned; at the end of Parshas Ki Seitzei, and at the end of Parshas Beshalach. At first glance it would seem that there is a difference between the two. In Parshas Beshalach a specific command for the Bnei Yisroel is not mentioned; it just says that Hashem is letting them know that He will fight their wars with Amalek, as the posuk says, “Write this as a memorial in a Sefer and repeat it to the ears of Yehoshua.” Hashem will fight the war Himself, since Hashem says, “I will erase the memory of Amalek.” In this vein we see the words of the posuk that says, “milchama LaHashem … midor dor.” Conversely, there is a command for every Jew in Parshas Ki Seitzei to remember what Amalek perpetrated even when Hashem provide a respite from war; we have a command to destroy the memory of Amalek and not to forget this. Based on this difference it would stand to reason that when the posuk in Parshas Beshalachsays  “from generation to generation,” it is not a din in the halacha of mechiyas Amalek that applies in every generation, but rather a “shvua” (promise) of Hashem for future generations. The chiyuv will only apply when there is respite from war.

The Smag in Lo Saaseh, resh chov vov says that the mitzvah of mechiyas Amalek will only apply when Moshiach arrives and Eretz Yisroel will be conquered. At that point, after there is a respite from war, there will be a mitzvah of mechiyas Amalek.

The Chinuch in mitzvah taf resh daled disagrees and says that there is a mitzvah for every Jewish male to wipe out Amalek if he has the ability to do so. This applies at any time and at any place. The Rambam in Sefer Hamitzvos Asseh, kuf peh zayin agrees and says that we can’t wait for Mashiach for this. He says every single person has the chiyuv to do it according to his capability. Based on the Chinuch and the Rambam, it would seem that the posuk in Beshalach that says that mechiyas Amalek is from generation to generation is not just a shvua of Hashem, but rather a mitzva that is incumbent upon every private Jew in every generation.

An explanation is needed to clarify the difference in the commands of Parshas Beshalach and Parshas Ki Seitzei according to the Chinuch and Rambam. In Ki Seitzei it sounds like there is only a chiyuv during peacetime after Moshiach comes, whereas in Parshas Beshalach the mitzvah applies in every generation. There must be two types of mechiyas Amalek; one that is a concerted effort of Klal Yisroel as a tzibbur to go to war against Amalek. That mitzvah will only apply when there is a respite of war during the times of Moshiach. This is in order to avoid having other nations ganging up against Klal Yisroel. There is however, a private mitzvah for each individual to wipe out Amalek at any given opportunity even when there is no respite of war.

Let us hope that we wipe out the koach of Amalek with our Torah learning.

Do you have a topic or discussion you want to read about? Please send comments or questions to hymanbsdhevens@gmail.com or berachsteinfeldscorner@gmail.com

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