Battling the Inner Amalek - בשלח

Friday, 3 February, 2023 - 10:53 am


Battling the Inner Amalek

Amalek attacked the Jewish people when they were traveling from Egypt to Sinai. According to the Mystics, the Torah commands us to remember what Amalek did to us, because the energy of Amalek seeks to block our journey from our inner Egypt to our personal Sinai. 

The episode of Amalek concludes with the words of Moses describing the war between G-d and Amalek: "And he said, For there is a hand on the throne of G-d {spelled yud hey, the first two letters of the four letters of G-d's name} (Exodus 17:16). Rashi comments: 

Why is the Divine name divided in half? {I.e., why is the Name יָ-הּ used instead of י-ה-ו-ה ?} {The answer is that} the Holy One, blessed be He, swore that His Name will not be complete and His throne will not be complete until the name of Amalek is completely obliterated. 

The Kabbalists explain that the first two letters of the divine name, "yud" and "hey" represent the Divine attributes of "wisdom and "understanding" and were referred to as the "concealed worlds", whereas the last two letters represent the "revealed worlds", "vov'' represents emotion, and the final "hey" represents action. Amalek, then, does not oppose G-d as an abstract idea (the first two letters of G-d's name), rather, Amalek opposes G-d's presence in the real world - in the "revealed worlds'' of emotion and action. 

This is relevant to each of us. We each strive to grow and develop in our spiritual journey of self-improvement and becoming closer to G-d. Yet sometimes, we experience a block. What we know in our mind (the "wisdom" and "understanding"; the "concealed worlds'') does not seem to play out in our emotions and affect our actions (the final two letters of the Divine name; the "revealed worlds").

The Torah describes the antidote to Amalek. 

Moses commanded Joshua to choose men and battle Amalek. Yet the Jewish people were only victorious when Moses raised his hands: 

It came to pass that when Moses would raise his hand, Israel would prevail, and when he would lay down his hand, Amalek would prevail. (Exodus 17:11)

The conventional interpretation is that when the Jewish people saw Moses's hands raised heavenward, they turned to G-d and were, therefore, victorious. The Chassidic interpretation is that in order to be victorious over Amalek, we must figuratively "raise our hands above the head". We must not wait for the knowledge of the mind to trigger an emotion that will lead to action; rather, we must commit to doing the action despite the lack of feeling at this moment. 

The antidote to the inner Amalek, the cold indifference that interferes with our relationship with the people we love and with G-d, is raising the hand. Despite the temporary emotional block of Amalek, we commit to what is right for the relationship. 

Adapted from Shaar Haemunah (Miteler Rebbe) chapter 14

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