Erasing Amaleiq

I heard (via YouTube) a thought in a shiur by Rabbi Yaakov Haber that I wanted to share and embellish.

When we first found out in 2012 that the Syrian government was using chemical weapons against their own people, we were shocked. It was repeatedly in the news headlines.

It is now 2019. They are still gassing their own people; the atrocity hasn’t stopped. But the news coverage and our shock did.

Things played out somewhat differently during the Holocaust; it took longer to believe that Germany was capable of such behavior, that they were literally exterminating an entire other nation. But eventually the news got out. And then too, after a while it was simply a fact. There was no continued Western outrage.

וַיֹּ֗אמֶר כִּֽי־יָד֙ עַל־כֵּ֣ס יָ֔הּ מִלְחָמָ֥ה לַה’ בַּֽעֲמָלֵ֑ק מִדֹּ֖ר דֹּֽר׃

And [Moshe] said: For [Hashem’s] “Hand” is upon Kah‘s “throne” [to swear that] there is a war between G-d and Amaleiq from generation to generation.

– Shemos 17:16

The Medrash Tanchuma (Ki Seitzei 11:1; also, paraphrased in Rashi on Shemos) writes about the incomplete words in this verse — “keis” rather than the full word “kisei” to refer to Hashem’s “throne”, and Kah rather than the full tetragrammaton to refer to Hashem Himself:

… רַבִּי לֵוִי בְּשֵׁם רַבִּי אַחָא בְּרַבִּי חֲנִינָא אוֹמֵר, כָּל זְמַן שֶׁזַּרְעוֹ שֶׁל עֲמָלֵק בָּעוֹלָם, לֹא הַשֵּׁם שָׁלֵם, וְלֹא הַכִּסֵּא שָׁלֵם. אָבַד זַרְעוֹ שֶׁל עֲמָלֵק, הַשֵּׁם שָׁלֵם וְהַכִּסֵּא שָׁלֵם. מַה טַּעַם. הָאוֹיֵב תַּמּוּ חֳרָבוֹת לָנֶצַח וְגוֹ’ (תהלים ט, ז). מַה כְּתִיב אַחֲרָיו, וַה’ לְעוֹלָם יֵשֵׁב כּוֹנֵן לַמִּשְׁפָּט כִּסְאוֹ (שם פסוק ח), הֲרֵי הַשֵּׁם שָׁלֵם וְהַכִּסֵּא שָׁלֵם. אָמֵן וְכֵן יְהִי רָצוֹן.

Rabbi Levi says in the name of Rabbi Acha beRabbi Chanina: Whenever the offspring of Amaleiq are in the world, the [Divine] name is not complete, and the [Divine] throne is not complete. Once the offspring of Amaleiq are gone, the name will be complete and the throne complete. What’s the source? “The enemy is finished, in ruins forever,[and you have uprooted their cities, their very memory has perished].” (Tehillim 9:7) What is written after it? “And Y-HV-H will eternally ‘sit’, His ‘kisei – throne established for justice.” (v. 8) Thus the name is whole and the throne is whole. Amein, and may it be the [Divine] Will!

The presence of Hashem with the full name of Y-HV-H, the name used in Tanakh when the story illustrates Hashem’s Action in ways that highlight His Mercy, and the full presence of the “throne” of justice in this world demands an war against evil that runs “ledor vador — for the course of history.” We cannot become acclimated to the world’s evil, “that’s just the way the world is”, callous to the suffering the Amaleiqs of the world perpetrate.



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