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Remember What Amalek Has Done To You- Is Gaza Amalek?

הרב שי טחןח שבט, תשפד18/01/2024

South African lawyers asserted that Israeli soldiers interpreted Benjamin Netanyahu's November speech, where he invoked a biblical reference to Amalek, as a justification for killing Palestinians

צילום: יניב חניא
On Thursday last week, South Africa presented its case at the World Court in The Hague, asserting that Israel is engaged in genocide in Gaza. The legal representatives urged the court to issue an interim order, calling for an immediate cessation of Israel's military actions.

South African lawyers asserted that Israeli soldiers interpreted Benjamin Netanyahu's November speech, where he invoked a biblical reference to Amalek, as a justification for killing Palestinians. This claim, highlighting Netanyahu's use of Amalek and IDF soldiers
צילום: יניב חניא
chanting "wipe off the seed of Amalek," was presented during the first day of public hearings at the International Court of Justice in The Hague. Netanyahu's use of Amalek during the Gaza invasion had sparked international outrage, with many interpreting it as an explicit call for Israeli soldiers to kill Palestinians in response to Hamas' attack on October 7. Netanyahu stated during the broadcast, "You must remember what Amalek has done to you, says the Torah, and we do remember."
In this article, we aim to analyze whether the seeds of Amalek, referring to the descendants of Amalek, are truly represented by the Hamas faction or if they belong to another nation.

Who is Amalek?
Amalek identified as the son of Eliphaz who was the son of Esav and ancestor of the Edomites, was born to Eliphaz and his pilegesh- Timna.

Amalek are later referenced in the Torah after the Israelites departed from Egypt, accompanied by numerous miracles that gained recognition globally. Despite the widespread awareness of these miracles, Amalek chose to defy the prevailing fear and engage in battle against us. Despite the awareness that they would not survive, they deemed it worthwhile to confront and diminish the fear instilled in the nations, accepting their own demise as a means to "cool down," so to speak, the apprehension among other nations.

Because Amalek was the first to confront our nation in battle, Bilaam, in his prophecy, refers to Amalek as "the first of nations."

In the biblical narrative, King Shaul and the conflict with the Amalekites are described in the First Book of Shmuel, (chapter 15). Hashem commanded Shaul to completely destroy the Amalekite people, including men, women, children, and livestock, as a divine punishment for their earlier hostility towards the Israelites during their Exodus from Egypt.

However, Shaul did not fully carry out this command. Despite destroying many of the Amalekites, he spared their king, Agag, and some of the best livestock.

As a result of Shaul's disobedience, Shmuel declared that Hashem had rejected him as king over Israel.
The Amalekites continued to be a recurring enemy of the Israelites throughout biblical history.

Amalek in later Generations.
In subsequent generations, we encounter Haman, who was a descendant of Amalek, once again in Persia during the reign of King Achasverosh. The discovery of Haman is mentioned in Megilat Esther as "Haman the Agagi," meaning from the Agagite family. Agag is openly mentioned in the Book of Shmuel as a king of the Amalekites. Therefore, Haman is a descendant of Agag, the king of Amalek.
We encounter the Amalekite once again in recent times, specifically in Germany. The Vilna Gaon, who lived over 200 years ago, asserted that Germany are the descendents of Amalek. In the book "Yerushatenu," (חלק ח’ עמוד קצו והלאה) Rabbi Binyamin Hamburger cites various rabbis who affirmed this perspective. Among them, Rabbi Eliezer from Lezinsk and Rabbi Zusha from Manipoli, eminent Chasidic figures, were the first to express the idea that the Germans embody Amalek. This viewpoint is also echoed in the writings of the Sfat Emet and Avnei Nezer.
Accordingly, we understand that without knowledge of Amalek's lineage, we should refrain from assuming that other nations are Amalek. Therefore, when discussing Gazans, we can reasonably conclude that they are not Amalek, especially considering they are not even Caucasians like the Germans. Thus, using the term Amalek in relation to them appears to be inaccurate.

Amalek as a Concept Rather than a Nation.
A novel interpretation of understanding Amalek is that it may not exclusively refer to the descendants but rather to the ideology and cruelty that Amalek represents. Rabbi Chaim Zonenfeld elucidated that the pasuk does not specifically command the obliteration of Amalek but rather its memory. This suggests that anyone embracing the principles and actions akin to Amalek would fall into that category (a testimony from Rabbi Noah Wientrob).
Looking back in time, we find similar explanations in the Rishonim. Sefer Hachinuch (מצוה תרג) elucidates that the essence of the commandment to remember what Amalek did to the Israelites upon leaving Egypt is to engrain in our hearts the understanding that any nation causing pain to Am Israel is despised by Hashem, just as He detests Amalek for the suffering they inflicted upon us. Furthermore, the more a nation inflicts pain upon Am Israel, the more it will lead to their own downfall, as evidenced by the complete destruction of the Amalekite nation, which inflicted significant suffering upon us. This perspective suggests that Amalek is more of an idea than a specific nation—a representation of those who stand as enemies to the Jewish nation and, consequently, enemies to Hashem.

If one seeks a clear example of what appears to be Hashem's intended retribution for historical persecution against the Jewish nation, particularly in Germany, it can be observed in the influx of seemingly "peaceful" immigrants to European countries, where Hashem establishes the groundwork for the upcoming. Douglas Murray, a renowned author, extensively elaborated on this in his best-selling book titled 'The Strange Death of Europe.' Europe is grappling with a severe threat of terrorism in various forms. Additionally, examining recent events in Ukraine, a country with a history of being sworn prosecutors of Jews for generations, reveals a cruelty even surpassing that of the Germans in certain aspects.

But the truth is that this is only the beginning, as Hashem has a more fitting retribution for all those Nazis. Based on these explanations, it becomes evident that the Gazans who have killed, tortured, and kidnapped our brothers and sisters, children, and babies are indeed following the footsteps and idealism of Amalek. Therefore, labeling them with that name is appropriate.

The Jewish Amalek
An interesting question that may be asked is whether Jewish people could be Amalek. At first glance, it seems unlikely, as Jews are not descendants of Amalek and are, in fact, the victims of Amalek. However, upon further examination, a different perspective emerges.

Rav Elchanan Vaserman (אגדות ע״ד הפשט סימן י’) writes that the holy Chafetz Chayim told him that Jews who oppose the Jewish people and heritage are actually descendants of Amalek.

The Vilna Gaon (אבן שלמה, פרק חבלי משיח) also goes to the extent of saying that even Jewish individuals displaying evil and cruel traits similar to Amalek are considered Amalek. This includes many Jewish leaders who oppose the Jewish heritage.

Final words
Finally, let's delve into some hashkafa on this topic. The Holy Chafetz Chayim provided insight into the Mishna (end of Sotah) that prophesied a generation before the arrival of Mashiach, likening it to a dog. He explained that this comparison reflects the behavior of a dog, which, when a stick is thrown at it, instinctively bites the stick rather than the person who threw it. Similarly, in times of sorrow for Am Israel, such as enemy attacks, we often find ourselves fighting against the visible adversaries without recognizing the underlying cause – our sins, which give rise to these troubles. The Chafetz Chayim suggests that as long as we continue to focus on biting the "stick" – the apparent enemies – the sorrows will persist. Instead, he urges us to address the core issue, our wrongful ways, in order to bring about true rectification.
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