Guest post by R’ Daniel Krentzman
“ויבא עמלק וילחם עם ישראל ברפידים. ויאמר משה אל יהושע בחר לנו אנשים וצא הלחם בעמלק, מחר אנכי נצב בראש ומטה הא-לקים בידי. ויעש יהושע כאשר אמר לו משה להלחם בעמלק ומשה אהרן וחור עלו ראש הגבעה. והיה כאשר ירים משה ידו וגבר ישראל וכאשר יניח ידו וגבר עמלק”
“Amalek came and battled Yisrael in Rifidim. Moshe said to Yehoshua, ‘Choose men for us and go out, do battle with Amalek; tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of G-d in my hand’. Yehoshua did as Moshe commanded him, to do battle with Amalek; and Moshe, Aharon and Chur ascended to the top of the hill. It happened that when Moshe would raise his hand Yisrael was stronger, and when he lowered his hand Amalek was stronger”
We find that Moshe, Aharon, Chur and Yehoshua make up what can be referred to as the: “מערכת הקודש”, or “Holy Assembly”; the power of kedusha which does battle against the spiritual enemy of Amalek.
This is connected to the concept which appears in Pirkei Avos (4:17) which teaches that there are three crowns: The crown of Torah, the crown of Kehunah, priesthood, and the crown of Malchus, Kingship.
Moshe manifested the crown of Torah and Aharon the crown of Kehunah. The crown of Malchus is actually divided into two, just as the Malchus of Yisrael is made of the Malchus of Mashiach ben Yosef and of the Malchus of Mashiach ben David. Thus, Yehoshua manifested to the crown of Kingship as Mashiach ben Yosef and Chur manifested the crown of Kingship of Mashiach ben David.
We find Amalek comes against each component of the “מערכת הקודש” according to its specific character and quality. The Torah says:
“זכור את אשר עשה לך עמלק בדרך בצאתכם ממצרים אשר קרך בדרך…”.
Rashi presents three possible interpretations of the phrase:
“אשר קרך”. Each one manifests a different attack of Amalek against one of the three “crowns” of the “מערכת הקודש”:
One possible meaning of: “קרך” is a language of: “מקרה”, meaning “chance” or “happenstance”.
This is because Amalek denied G-d’s direct involvement and providence in the world and claimed that the world functioned according to nature and chance alone. This is completely antithetical to the way the Torah teaches us that G-d is involved in everything that happens in the world and guides the Jewish people according to His direct providence.
The Torah itself is all about G-d’s active role in creation and his continuous involvement in guiding the world toward its intended purpose. Thus Amaleks’ attacking the Jewish people was in essence, an attack against the “crown of Torah” and everything that the Torah expresses about G-d’s direct relationship with the Jewish people.
Also, the foundation of Torah and fulfillment of the mitzvos is dependant upon “אמונה”, “faith”, in Hashem. ChaZaL taught (Makkos 24a) that the whole Torah can be said to be rooted in having total faith in Hashem. Amalek represents lack of faith and true belief in G-d, which is why the word “עמלק” shares the same gematria as “ספק”, meaning “doubt”.
Another possible meaning of: “קרך” is a language of “קרי” and “טומאה”, “sexual impurity” and “ritual impurity”.
This relates to how Amalek is antithetical to the spiritual kedusha represented by Aharon, “the crown of Kehunah”.
Firstly, Kehunah is all about remaining holy and pure in the service of Hashem. Tumah and the approach that nothing is sacred or holy through being connected to Hashem and his Shechinah, is totally against what Aharon and the Kehunah represent.
It follows that a Kohen could only serve in the Beis HaMikdash in a state of purity and, for example, a seminal emission (called “קרי”) would disqualify him, until he purified himself. One of the most important parts of the Kohen Gadol’s Yom Kippur preparations was to remain pure from a seminal emission (Yoma 1:4).
Also, we see that “Kedushas HaBris”, “guarding against sexual impurity” is an essential part of Kehunah through that which is says regarding Pinchas ben Elazar’s reception of the Kehunah:
“הנני נתן לו את בריתי שלום””, “Behold I give him My covenant of peace”. On a deeper level, this verse connects the concept of Kehunah with the concept of “ברית”, that is, guarding one’s bris from misuse and sexual impurity (“קרי”) and remaining holy and distinguished in Hashem’s service.
This is also what Amalek came to fight against, which was expressed by their mutilation of the slain Jews’ by cutting off the area of the bris milah and casting them upward as a gesture of defiance toward G-d (Tanchuma 10, parshas Ki Seitzei).
The third interpretation of : “קרך” is a language of “קור”, meaning “cooling off” from heat.
The Midrash (Tanchuma 9) explains that Amalek’s attack against the Jewish people “cooled off” the “heat” of the Jewish people, as it were; for the nations were afraid to do battle with them, but by Amalek coming and battling with them, they opened the possibility for others to do the same, and thus “cooled off” the “heat” of the Jews, who were like a hot bath whom no one was willing to step into, until Amalek came and, although burning themselves, jumped in and cooled off the bath; encouraging others to follow suit.
The purpose of the exalted status, sovereignty and power that Jewish people are meant to obtain, is all intended to manifest the true authority and sovereignty of Hashem, in the world.
The prophets teach us that nations of the world come to recognize G-d’s providence and power over all nations and peoples through the ultimate elevation of the Jewish people; who, from their position of greatness, will come to elevate the rest of the world and teach them to know and serve Hashem.
This concept of the world in its rectified state is referred to as:
“תיקון עולם במלכות ש-די”, “World rectification resulting from the establishment of G-d’s Malchus, sovereignty”. This is achieved through the establishment of the Jewish people’s Malchus and authority, in the eyes of the nations. Only from this position of respect and reverence can the Jewish people fully guide all of mankind to reach their potential, in the knowledge and service of G-d.
When the Jewish people left Egypt, after Hashem had performed the wondrous miracles, it had established the Jewish people’s unique elevated status as G-d’s people. All the nations knew what of this and feared G-d and His chosen, sovereign people.
Amalek sought to depreciate and devalue this level of Malchus that the Jewish people had achieved and, in essence, challenge the notion G-d’s Malchus in the world. This is why the Torah says (Shemos 17:16): “כי יד על כס י-ה מלחמה לה’ בעמלק מדר ודר”, “For there is a hand on the throne of G-d: Hashem maintains a war against Amalek from generation to generation”.
The “Throne” (כסא) of G-d is missing the letter “א” and is spelled as: “כס”, to show that His Malchus (represented by the “Throne”) is not complete as long as Amalek is around to counter it.
Because Amalek, essentially represents the constant challenge against the holy Malchus of Hashem and His people, the Torah commands the Jewish king, who represents the Malchus of the nation and G-d, with going to war and wiping out Amalek (Rambam Hilchos Melachim ****). This is also why Shaul, the first king, was charged with utterly destroying Amalek; and why his f
ailure in doing so brought about the loss of his kingship (see Shmuel I, 15).
Thus, we see that Amalek comes against the holy crown of Malchus in the Jewish people, and ultimately, the Malchus of Hashem.
Therefore, to battle against Amalek successfully we must learn from the Torahs example of Moshe, Aharon, Chur and Yehoshua, and give strength to the three holy spiritual crowns of Torah, Kehunah and purity and Malchus, each person according to his abilities.
In an individual manner, it can be achieved through strengthening ourselves in Torah Li’Shmah, Torah for Hashem’s sake and not ulterior motives or as a pretense for causing dispute and disunity among the Jewish people.
Kehunah, through guarding ourselves in the area of Kedushas HaBris; and Malchus through accepting G-d’s kingship upon ourselves and sanctifying G-d’s name among each other and among the nations of the world.