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To fight a war or not...

The Jewish people fought two battles on their way from Egypt to Mount Sinai: The battle with Egypt and the battle with Amalek. With regard to the battle with Egypt, G-d commanded them: “G-d will fight for you and you shall be silent.” With regard to the battle with Amalek, though, G-d commanded them, “Go forth and fight Amalek.”

What is the difference between the two wars? Why did G-d fight the Egyptians Himself, but commanded the Jews to go out and do battle with Amalek?

Pharaoh went to war to return the Jewish people to Egypt. Amalek, though, went to war to block the path of the Jewish people on their way to Mount Sinai to receive the Torah. Therefore, G-d commanded the Jews to go out and fight Amalek.

When one is attempting to prevent the receiving of the Torah, we must fight it with all our power. True, fighting wars is not part of the general temperament of the Jewish people. “By your sword you shall live” was the blessing given to Esau, while of Jacob, Isaac said “The voice is the voice of Jacob.” However, if a battle arises on the way to Mount Sinai to receive the Torah, this is not a time for making calculations. We must do everything we can to remove the obstacle and go forth to receive the Torah.

The Jewish people were victorious over Amalek in a miraculous way. The Jews did not go into battle thinking they would win on the basis of their superior strength and fighting ability. They went forth knowing that they are on a mission, fighting to receive the Torah. When we go forth with the power of the Torah, we are victorious!

When Amalek picked a battle with the Jewish people, the Jews were full of enthusiasm to receive the Torah. Amalek went forth to try to dampen their enthusiasm; they wanted to cool off the excitement surrounding the Jews’ miraculous exodus from Egypt and upcoming rendezvous with G-d.

Every day, we have a mitzvah to remember what Amalek did on our way out of Egypt. Amalek represents the power of cynicism and doubt — anything that comes to cool of a Jew’s enthusiasm for G-d, for Torah and Mitzvot.

From the battle with Amalek, we learn a lesson for how to confront Amalek in all its forms. When any power arises to prevent us from embracing the Torah, we must fight back with all our might. Nothing must be allowed to stand in our way of receiving the Torah. However, we must remember that we are not going with our own power. We are going with the power of Moses, and with the power of the Torah itself, and we will surely be victorious.

(Based on an address of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Likutei Sichos vol. 1, p. 144-46)

 

 


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