Culture, Global, Identity, Israel, Politics, Religion

Amalek's Big Toe

A few months ago, Rabbi Jack Riemer decided that Islamo-Fascists are an incarnation of Amalek.
Last week, Rabbi Marc Gellman made a similar declaration in his Newsweek column. It turns out, according to Gellman, that Amalek utilized the same tactics as Hezbollah:

What made Amalek so dastardly was that unlike any other enemy who attacked the Israelites fleeing slavery in Egypt from the front, Amalek attacked the rear. This meant that his soldiers could kill women and children, the elderly and the infirm and in so doing avoid engagement with the soldiers at the front. In this way he could produce maximum carnage and maximum terror.

Of course Deut. 25:17-19 instructs us to remember Amalek for a good reason. Sayeth Gellman:

I believe this is because the planned and plotted slaughter of innocents even during wartime cannot be condoned and must be remembered as a bright moral line which can never be crossed.

Sorry. I have a bullshit meter that buzzes whenever someone uses the Torah to score political points. But maybe that’s just me. Perhaps the Amalek label is appropriate here.
[Don’t worry. Newsweek’s erudite readers bash Gellman plenty in this week’s Letters to the Editor.]

15 thoughts on “Amalek's Big Toe

  1. Does it really matter whether the Muslim terrorists are Amaleks or not? They are clearly evil and must be destroyed, else they will take down Jews, Xtains, and our entire Western Civilization.

  2. …. so the Torah cannot be used to support the idea that killing civilians is immoral?
    Whew! What a relief – I thought you were one of those crazy fundamentalists who think the Torah is all about morality, you know, Tikkun Olam – oops!
    … but at least we can be assured that YOU won’t joint the fashionable voices denouncing Israel’s collateral damage to Lebanon – and won’t claim special Moral Outrage Bonus Points for being Jewish – because the application of Torah morality to current events sets your bullshit meter ringing.
    At least, that would be the consistent thing….
    Torah morality not applicable to modern moral dillemmas – gotta remember that one, it will come in handy when debating various uffishly self-righteous left Jews….

  3. Did Gellman not read last week’s parsha???
    Bamidbar 31–Moses gets angry because the Israelites don’t kill enough women and children–and orders them to slay everybody except the virgins, who presumably we kept on hand for rape and/or forced marriage.
    I’m not sure how to interpret this, (there are many possibilities, most of which I don’t want to touch) except to say that I don’t think we should be looking to the Torah for our advice on wartime conduct this ‘time around.

  4. Did Gellman not read last week’s parsha???
    Bamidbar 31–Moses gets angry because the Israelites don’t kill enough women and children–and orders them to slay everybody except the virgins, who presumably we kept on hand for rape and/or forced marriage.
    I’m not sure how to interpret this, (there are many possibilities, most of which I don’t want to touch) except to say that I don’t think we should be looking to the Torah for our advice on wartime conduct this ‘time around.

  5. Does Gellman mean we should slay the wives, children and animals of Hezbollah fighters? Becuase King Saul was shown the door for being lax on precisely this point with Amalek. The Torah, in Rabbinic tradition anyway, has no voice but the voice of the Rabbis. The same Rabbis who reiterate time and again that the ancient peoples in the Torah are no more – not in body nor in spirit (certain remarks by R. Hayyim of Wolozhyn notwithstanding)

  6. I have an idea: let’s all agree to kill all the Muslim terrorists and their supporters, and leave the Torah analysis for a later date.

  7. The idea that Amelek is frequently involved in a leadership capacity within a movement against Jews is hardly a new idea in Jewish tradition.
    However, to argue or even suggest that the rank and file of the Arab world is Amelek was rejected even by the known moderate Meir Kahane. To offer a more radical interpretation of him is certainly striking.
    He probably rejected this idea because in the end, it is simply not a reasonable argument. There is a narrative of sibling conflict between Yitzchak and Yishmael, and Yishmael is defintitively not Amelek.
    Additionally, attempting to point a finger at anyone and claim they are Amelek is absolutely unpragmatic. Unless you are pointing to a flock of sheep and insisting that they are actually Amelekites in disguise as they did with King Saul’s onslaught. That makes sense, and should help bolster our narrative in mainstream news periodicals throughout the West. Why is this not being addressed directly?
    Perhaps the sheep were purchased by Arabs, and when they turned back into humans, they turned into Arabs in order to blend in.
    I would very much like R. Gellman’s ideas on this possiblility, and would like them published in Newsweek.

  8. Dirrigible, PLANNING to kill, is called murder, as in you shall not commit it. My skin crawls when I hear people who consider themselves Jewish, to be lusting for blood.
    So Bush-like.

  9. Amalek… the nation that stands antithesis to what we are all about…we can cannot succeed with Amalek in the world…so i don’t offer a nation, race class that we can conveniently label.. but through many classes-particularly from Rav Daniel Cohen ( the most wicked aspect of amalek in their attack is maybe described as decontextualizing…
    us jews are here to say that there is meaning in this world, this earthly life, so precious this gift from the Creator… and not just the whole idea of LIFE, but even the littlest particulars-like kosher food, a blessing on a fragrance… Amalek attacks us through deriding our ability to value the events, lives and people around us.
    Amalek may operate by taking a picture out of the context of its story. If one thinks that this conflict with Hizbolla really started with the kidnapping of two soldiers…
    Amalek is related to the word Melika, which is to decapitate… to disconnect our heads, our holders of conscioussness to our heart and action… When the Jewish peoples’ story is told as colonial european imperialists on a land grab against dark peoples of Palestine- that is amelekian… Likewise for us to dismiss the reality faced by the peoples living in the land as we returned in soveriegnty would be ignoring reality, and amaleki… Once the context of an action is removed- we become very hesitant to feel wholehearted about anything. When we wipe out Amalek on Purim, it is exuberance, total committment and actions beyond the limits of mind that symbolize the holiday.
    Whilst in America these last few weeks- it has been amazing the incredible absence of context through which even the news reporters try to explain/challenge what is happening… This is an attack of amalek, when people whittle away your resolve to believe in what you believe. Upon writing that, I reflect on what is the light in which Amalek lives… For a force so dark, must be drawing on a crucially vital aspect of holiness…
    WHat is the light from which Amalek cast it’s unique shadow.
    Maybe it’s in thought. Our ability to think… Hiding within the crucially important light of “look before you leap” and conscious thinking lurks also Amalek who is willing to cast a doubt on any situation, to let your mind and it’s endless scenarios prevent your heart from even speaking it’s piece. THat is an element of decapitation.. Because there is always going to be more ways to evaluate the situation… and perhaps female circumsision is really a nice thing, we just culturally don’t understand (without getting involved in the depths of that debate)… It’s not that what Amalek says is a lie- it’s always addressing truth. But it is cooling the world of heart. An affect American Judaism has seen much of. TO suck the passionate life force out of our actions is Amaleks’ goal.
    Support Israel- froma distance.
    I am not suggesting we be non-critical– but if there ever was a time of pain, and a time to cry for what civilians and army are going through in our little land over there-to lose the ability to shed a tear for the people involved is losing something deep in our kishkes…
    Life without amalek will have tears and joy like we can’t imagine letting go to.. please please please may we rejoice…

  10. To all those self-righteous folk talking about the “slaughter” of Midianite women: the whole point is that they were central to the assault on the Jewish people, through their encitement to idolatry and lewdness.
    Children were not killed – just adults who took action against the Jews.
    It’s also worth noting that this is specifically cited as AN EXCEPTION to the Jewish rules of all, laid out elsewhere in the Torah – which explicitly require a starting peace offer(Deuteronomy 20:10), and explicitly prohibit murder/rape of innocent women (Deuteronomy 21:10).

  11. Children were killed (if we take it literally). Moshe became angry when the Israelite men held back and didn’t want to kill the women and children. He told them to go back and finish off the women and young boys – the underage virgins they could keep for themselves. And these were the same people who had sheltered him years earlier when they had found him wandering in the desert (not to mention the fact that they were his wife’s people, probably her family).

  12. It might do well to keep in mind Reb Chaim m’Brisk’s understanding that those who apopt the ideology of Amalek — the total destruction of the Jewish people– fall under the defenition of Amalek.
    While a 3 year old Lebanese child may not advocate our destruction, there should be no question that the leaders of Hizbullah and their soldiers do, and though ina practical sense their classifaction as Amalek means nothing, it is not yet time to fufill the positive commandment to destroy Amalek, from an ideological prospective it is important.
    It is important to recognize that the enemies of Am Yisroel want us dead and while we not always be in a state of open war with them, be it Hizbullah, Hamas, et al. in this generation, or the Nazis in the last, we must always be prepared to defend ourselfs both physically and spiritually.

  13. if it was his wife’s family, that might explain why killing them was so important to him
    I didn’t think of that!

  14. Ben-David
    In regards to the slaughter of the Mideonite women, as much as I hate to comment on this from a persepctive that could be misinterpreted as somehow Hellenist influenced, I still have to say this somehow seems like a terrible waste of ‘bitches’ who like to party.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.