No Compassion for Amalek
By Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Ginsberg

The following story was told to me by R’ Bentzion Grossman, who heard it from R’ Moshe Zisholtz:

R’ Moshe Zisholtz was born in Belgium. For a long time he was very far from Torah and mitzvos. One time he was watching television (while visiting Brazil) and flipping through the channels, when he happened to stumble upon a broadcast of a farbrengen with the Rebbe Melech HaMoshiach. Moshe, who spoke Yiddish, understood a little of what the Rebbe was saying. The farbrengen made such an impression on him that he burst into tears. This proved to be the turning point in Moshe’s life, after which he decided to return to the derech ha’yashar. Today he is a successful businessman living in Monsey, New York, and a tremendous supporter of numerous Torah institutions.

Some of the organizations Moshe supports are associated with two important figures in Borough Park, Brooklyn, Rabbis Yechiel and Ezriel Tauber. These two brothers, both of whom are outstanding talmidei chachomim, were born in Hungary. Rabbi Yechiel Tauber is the head of a very prestigious kollel that trains Dayanim in "Choshen Mishpat." Rabbi Ezriel Tauber is a successful businessman, who has also written a number of s’farim and is very involved in kiruv work all over the world.

Yechiel and Ezriel Tauber were among the founders of Rabbi Yoel Kahan’s Chassidus shiur in Borough Park and still attend it regularly. They were very drawn to Chassidus, even though neither considers himself a Chabad Chassid. R’ Ezriel never met the Rebbe MH"M b’gashmiyus, and R’ Yechiel only attended one farbrengen in his life, as will soon be related.

As R’ Ezriel puts it, all of his kiruv work is the direct result of having attended these shiurim. The essential value of every Jew; that the neshama is a "veritable part of G-d Above"; "Israel and the Holy One, blessed be He, are one entity"; that Hashem chooses even the physical body of a Jew, etc. – all of these concepts are what motivate him and ultimately led him to dedicate his life to bringing Jews back to Yiddishkeit.

Over the years, the Lubavitchers in Rabbi Yoel Kahan’s shiur had tried many times to convince the brothers to come to a farbrengen. If the "hispashtus" of the Rebbe is so powerful, they said, you can only imagine what it’s like to be in the presence of the source!

At first the brothers claimed they were too busy. Maybe they were even a little worried that it might negatively affect their status in Borough Park... But eventually R’ Yechiel agreed to come, and not long afterward, found himself in 770.

When R’ Yechiel arrived it was at the height of the farbrengen. With great difficulty he squeezed through the crowd, found himself a place and began to concentrate on the Rebbe’s words. Much to his amazement, a few seconds later the Rebbe told a "joke" ("milsa de’b’dichasa"), and everyone in 770 burst out laughing. R’ Yechiel was extremely put off by this. After all his "mesiras nefesh" to come to Crown Heights, he simply could not understand how the Rebbe could find time to tell "jokes." "Is that all the Rebbe has to say to the thousands of people who have come to hear Torah?" he thought to himself.

Rabbi Tauber, of course, as a frum Jew who is scrupulous about the laws of lashon ha’ra, kept his opinion to himself. The incident was consigned to the back of his mind, where it stayed for many years. Deep inside, however, he harbored a tiny grudge, and he never returned to 770. Nonetheless, he and brother continued to attend the Chassidus shiur in Borough Park, but without any open connection to the Rebbe.

Many years passed. A few months ago an event was held in Borough Park for baalei teshuva. Shabbaton participants were housed with host families around the neighborhood, and one couple was sent to Rabbi Yechiel Tauber’s house. That Shabbos, while making conversation during the seuda, he happened to ask the couple how they had become frum.

The woman related that she had been born in Brooklyn, but had no early contact with Yiddishkeit. Even the fact that she was born Jewish was not particularly significant to her. One time, however, she happened to wander into 770 in the middle of a farbrengen. "There I was, in the women’s section, feeling very out of place and wondering what I was doing there," she recalled. "Then all of a sudden the Rebbe said something funny, and everyone in 770 started to laugh. I can’t describe what happened to me, because I really don’t understand it. But at that moment I felt such a strong sense of connection and belonging that I decided, on the spot, to throw in my lot with these people, whose lives were so full of joy and enthusiasm. It wasn’t long after that that I became completely observant."

To say that Rabbi Tauber was dumbfounded is an understatement. Despite the intervening years he remembered the farbrengen he had attended in 770 as if it were yesterday, as well as the Rebbe’s "unnecessary" joke. Only now he could appreciate the effect that joke had had, and realized that his resentment toward the Rebbe had been totally unfounded.

But not only that: The fact that this particular woman had been a guest in his house was not coincidental, but all part of the same Divine providence to bring him to a greater connection with the Rebbe shlita.

The bottom line: The Rebbe Melech HaMoshiach is an "ish Elokim," and never says anything "off the top of his head…"

What does this mean for us in practical terms? That if we ever encounter something we do not understand the fault lies in us, as our Sages interpreted the words "ki lo davar reik hu mikem" ("for it is not a vain thing for you"): "If it is ‘reik,’ empty, the fault is ‘mikem,’ from you." In the objective sense, our intellectual abilities are pathetic and coarse. "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, and My ways are not your ways." Who are we to second-guess what the Rebbe wants or means?

The whole problem with the yetzer ha’ra is not that it gives us lousy advice, but that we think it’s entitled to an opinion. As is known, the yetzer ha’ra doesn’t start off by telling us to do an aveira. In the beginning, the yetzer ha’ra is all gung ho when we do a mitzva. "Go right ahead!" it says. "This is a very important mitzva. You have my wholehearted support." The only wrong thing with this scenario is that the yetzer ha’ra is voicing an opinion at all. Who asked him? Since when do we consult the yetzer ha’ra in matters of avodas Hashem?

The lesson to be derived: Even though we are commanded to internalize everything, we must always be aware that we are not the ultimate authority. Every word must be accepted with kabbalas ol, without mixing in our feelings or intellect. This will ensure that even the lowest levels will be permeated and imbued with a level G-dliness that transcends intellect.

* * *

"Remember what Amalek did you to you." It is incumbent on each and every Jew to obliterate and completely nullify Amalek.

But what did Amalek do that was so terrible? Why is he worse than any of the others nations, none of whom have a wonderful track record when it comes to spilling Jewish blood? On a deeper level, all of the 70 nations are only different aspects of the "three klipos that are entirely unclean." Nonetheless, other goyim have a potential tikkun, and they do not have to be "obliterated" or hated to such a degree. By contrast, we are commanded to wipe out even the "remembrance" of Amalek: "Go and strike Amalek, and completely destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass."

Chassidus explains that the reason is that Amalek is the etzem (essence) of klipa, whereas all the other nations are only the hispashtus (extension). "Amalek was the first of the nations," and therefore, "and his end shall come to destruction."

The hispashtus of klipa has the potential (and obligation) to be turned into kedusha. But the only way to do it is by first destroying the etzem. If the etzem of evil still exists, nothing can be done about its hispashtus.

On the individual "soul" level, all negative midos are derived from the hispashtus of klipa, rather than its essence. To explain: The reason a person has a certain "taava" is not because he is bad, but because he thinks that the bad things are good for him. He gets mad because he feels insulted. He is jealous because he’s afraid that another person will take something that should rightfully be his away from him. But when he realizes the truth, that "Hashem hu ha’Elokim" and "there is none but Him," and that all the rest is nonsense, he will return to the "source of living waters" and abandon the false and "broken cisterns that cannot contain water."

However, this is only on condition that the etzem of klipa is taken care of first. After the etzem is destroyed, the hispashtus can be taken on, vanquished and unmasked as an imposter. All of the nations can then be transformed into kedusha, which is what will happen with the true and complete Redemption. (The preparation for this is the effort to spread awareness and observance of the Seven Noachide Laws. As is known, the non-Jews must keep these mitzvos because they are commanded by G-d, through Moshe Rabbeinu, in the Torah.) This will ultimately lead to the fulfillment of, "For then I will convert the peoples to a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the L-rd, to serve Him with one accord."

This applies to all nations except for Amalek, for whom there is no birur (refinement) or tikkun (correction) at all. The only way to "fix" Amalek is to get rid of it, leaving no survivors. Even though in general, "the ways of Torah are pleasant and all its paths are peace," and we are forbidden to be cruel or take revenge, when it comes to Amalek, all the rules suddenly change. We are not allowed to show mercy or compassion. A prime example of the consequences is what happened to Shaul HaMelech when he spared Amalek’s animals in order to bring korbanos. Even though his intentions were for the sake of Heaven he was severely punished, and the sovereignty was taken away from him forever.

Amalek cannot be fought by enlightenment. The essential nekuda (point) of klipa is not affected by increasing the light of knowledge. Amalek already "knows his Master but intentionally rebels." And the more Amalek understands Hashem’s greatness, the more deliberately and forcefully he goes against Him.

The first letters of the words "emcheh," "macho," and "timcheh" ("I will obliterate, obliterate, you shall obliterate") spell "emes," truth. For the only true way to deal with Amalek is by annihilating it.

Amalek is not any particular negative mida such as anger, jealousy, or hatred. Amalek doesn’t stoop to "dirty himself" in such "filthy clothing." Rather, he walks around in a finely tailored kapote, presenting himself as a lamdan and chochom. But the essential point that rebels against Hashem is always the same: the egotistical "I," the arrogance of "yesh." In fact, it is this perception of self as separate from Hashem that is at the root of all evil, and the antithesis of "there is nothing but Him."

When you explain to Amalek that Hashem is great and that He performs miracles, he smiles as if to say, "You’re telling me?" Amalek is already "smart"; he recognizes that Hashem is completely beyond all limitations. That is why he tries to convince us to "use our minds" to improve our observance of Torah and mitzvos! "The reason Hashem has endowed people with intelligence," he makes the claim, "is for them to be able to exercise their powers of logic. Only afterwards can they truly observe mitzvos with a p’nimiyus…"

The problem, of course, is that Amalek is being allowed into the equation in the first place. Amalek is not a metziyus, and should never be permitted to rear his ugly head. The only way to approach G-dliness and kedusha is through bittul and self-nullification. In the final analysis, there is no other access route.

* * *

And that is why we need a Rebbe who is chai v’kayam. Without a Rebbe, chas v’shalom, all our avoda can lead us in the wrong direction. Instead of bringing us closer to Hashem, it can distance us further by inflating our egos.

Concerning what our Sages said on the verse "And Yisro heard" – "What did Yisro hear that caused him to come? About the splitting of the Red Sea and the war with Amalek" – Reb Mendel Futerfas used to add that when Yisro saw that even after such an intense revelation of G-dliness an Amalek could come along and wreak such damage, he realized that he had to go directly to Moshe Rabbeinu. For without the Moshe Rabbeinu of the generation, all the G-dly revelations in the world are no protection against klipa.

When a person is connected to the Rebbe, he is aware that he is "a servant of Avrohom." The strengths and powers with which he operates are not his own. It isn’t important or even relevant what he thinks, feels or understands. The only important thing is that the shlichus gets carried out.

At a time when "the only service that remains is to greet Moshiach Tzidkeinu in actuality," each and every one of us must put everything else aside and concentrate on that. We must not stop talking about it, thinking about it, or writing about it "24/7"!

The only "immunization" against tuma is pure kedusha, which is the only effective weapon against Amalek: "the cruse of oil sealed with the stamp of the Kohen Gadol" – i.e., the essential point of hiskashrus to the Rebbe shlita. This "nekuda" of Moshiach, the "yechida ha’klalis" that has been "anointed in My holy oil," is impervious to and completely impenetrable by klipa.

This is especially relevant now, at a time when the entire world is crying out for genuine leadership. All of the manmade "isms" and philosophies have already been proven false. The time has come for all mankind (not only Jews, but non-Jews as well, through the Sheva Mitzvos Bnei Noach) to get ready for the light of Moshiach. It is not only the z’chus of every member of our generation, but our obligation.

Amalek is apathy and coldness, and we can and must obliterate every remnant of him. With joy and enthusiasm we will carry out our mission, till the whole world is singing the "new song" that is already catching on everywhere:

"Yechi Adoneinu Moreinu V’Rabbeinu Melech HaMoshiach L’olam Va’ed!"


The only wrong thing with this scenario is that the yetzer ha’ra is voicing an opinion at all. Who asked him? Since when do we consult with the yetzer ha’ra?




Even though we are forbidden to be cruel or take revenge, when it comes to Amalek, all the rules suddenly change. We are not allowed to show mercy or compassion.





When a person is connected to the Rebbe, he is aware that he is "a servant of Avrohom." The strengths and powers with which he operates are not his own.


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