Shabbat Zachor, Amalek
1א
(יז) זָכ֕וֹר אֵ֛ת אֲשֶׁר־עָשָׂ֥ה לְךָ֖ עֲמָלֵ֑ק בַּדֶּ֖רֶךְ בְּצֵאתְכֶ֥ם מִמִּצְרָֽיִם׃ (יח) אֲשֶׁ֨ר קָֽרְךָ֜ בַּדֶּ֗רֶךְ וַיְזַנֵּ֤ב בְּךָ֙ כָּל־הַנֶּחֱשָׁלִ֣ים אַֽחַרֶ֔יךָ וְאַתָּ֖ה עָיֵ֣ף וְיָגֵ֑עַ וְלֹ֥א יָרֵ֖א אֱלֹהִֽים׃ (יט) וְהָיָ֡ה בְּהָנִ֣יחַ יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֣יךָ ׀ לְ֠ךָ מִכָּל־אֹ֨יְבֶ֜יךָ מִסָּבִ֗יב בָּאָ֙רֶץ֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר יְהוָֽה־אֱ֠לֹהֶיךָ נֹתֵ֨ן לְךָ֤ נַחֲלָה֙ לְרִשְׁתָּ֔הּ תִּמְחֶה֙ אֶת־זֵ֣כֶר עֲמָלֵ֔ק מִתַּ֖חַת הַשָּׁמָ֑יִם לֹ֖א תִּשְׁכָּֽח׃ (פ)

(17) Remember what Amalek did to you on your journey, after you left Egypt— (18) how, undeterred by fear of God, he surprised you on the march, when you were famished and weary, and cut down all the stragglers in your rear. (19) Therefore, when the Eternal your God grants you safety from all your enemies around you, in the land that the Eternal your God is giving you as a hereditary portion, you shall blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven. Do not forget!

2ב
(יב) וְתִמְנַ֣ע ׀ הָיְתָ֣ה פִילֶ֗גֶשׁ לֶֽאֱלִיפַז֙ בֶּן־עֵשָׂ֔ו וַתֵּ֥לֶד לֶאֱלִיפַ֖ז אֶת־עֲמָלֵ֑ק אֵ֕לֶּה בְּנֵ֥י עָדָ֖ה אֵ֥שֶׁת עֵשָֽׂו׃
(12) Timna was a concubine of Esau’s son Eliphaz; she bore Amalek to Eliphaz. Those were the descendants of Esau’s wife Adah.
3ג

Timna was a royal princess, as it is written, alluf Timna, (Gen. 36:40) and by alluf an uncrowned ruler is meant. Desiring to join the Jewish people, she went to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but they did not accept her.

So she went and became a concubine to Eliphaz the son of Esau, saying, ‘I had rather be a servant to this people than a mistress of another nation.’

From her Amalek was descended who afflicted Israel.

Why so? — Because they (Abraham, Issac and Jacob) should not have repulsed her.

(Tractate Sanhedrin 99b)

4ד

(4) But the reason for remembering what Amalek did, is only that the hatred in our hearts not be forgotten... And it is always the Shabbat before Purim... because it is from the matter of the day, since Haman the wicked was from the seed [of Amalek]

5ה

While the etymology of the word Amalek is uncertain, there is a tradition that may come from two words – “Am Lakak”, the people who lick up – the people who selfishly take from all around without any sense of boundary or of compassion for others.

Amalek is the trait that takes, that uses up, that does not consider either the other or the context or the future – it is the greed and selfishness we are all prone to as young children, something we have to learn to rein in and control if we are to live with others and do good in this world.

6ו

Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, (1808 – 1888) saw the battle between Israel and Amalek as being between different sets of values – and Israel’s purpose is to strive to be moral and life affirming activity.

“We are warned, remember what Amalek did to you, and see to it that we ourselves should not become an Amalek within ourselves. …not to commit deeds of wrong and violence within our personal lives….

Do not forget" this [obligation to wipe out Amalek] - in case there comes a time when you will want to be like Amalek, and like him to deny your [moral] obligation and not to know God, but will only seek opportunities...to exploit your power to harm others.”