Today as we remember the attacks on American soil perpetrated by those who hate us, I am reminded of an age-old enemy, whose actions look eerily familiar to those who, in the early morning hours of September 11th, 2001 unleashed their evil plot, killing thousands of people. The enemy happens to be mentioned in this week’s reading from the annual cycle of Torah readings, known as Ki Tetzay – כי תצא. The enemy’s name is Amalek. Notice what it says of this enemy in the Torah reading this week.
“Remember what Amalek did unto you by the way as you came forth out of Egypt; how he met you by the way, and smote the hindmost of you, all that were enfeebled in your rear, when you were faint and weary; and he feared not God. Therefore it shall be, when YHVH your God hath given you rest from all your enemies round about, in the land which YHVH your God gives you for an inheritance to possess it, that you shall blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven; you shall not forget.” (Deuteronomy 25:17-19)
Amalek is also mentioned in the book of Exodus. In the 17th chapter, we read of a battle between the Israelites – led by Joshua, and Amalek (Exodus 17:8-16). The battle went in the favor of Israel when the hands of Moses were lifted up and in the favor of Amalek when “he let down his hand.” Aaron and Hur got on either side of Moses and held up his arms. Israel won the battle. But according to the account in Exodus 17, the story of Amalek does not end there.
“And YHVH said unto Moses: ‘Write this for a memorial in the book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: for I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.’ And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it, YHVH-Nissi. And he said; “Because a hand is against the throne of Yah – War to YHVH with Amalek from generation to generation.”
Rabbi Hertz says in his comment on this verse – “Amalek has disappeared from under heaven, but his spirit still walks the earth. In the battle of YHVH against the Amalekites in the realm of the spirit, the only successful weapons are courage and conviction, truth and righteousness.”
Since the beginning of time there has been a war between good and evil. The faces and names of our enemies may change, but the spirit remains the same. When we see evil manifested such as the attacks against America on September 11th, 2001, we must recognize that the spirit of Amalek drives the enemy. Our weapons are courage, conviction, truth and righteousness. We look forward to a day when the remembrance of Amalek will be blotted out, and with it the name and memory of America’s Amalek. May the memory of our Amalek be blotted out from under heaven! And may each successive Amalek suffer the same demise until the final Amalek is is defeated and that name is no more!