A Time for War – Parashat Beshalach

January 14, 2019 at 2:21 AM , , ,

“….And Moshe said to Yehoshua, “Choose men for us, and go out and fight against Amalek…” – Shemot 17:9

וַיֹּאמֶר משֶׁה אֶל יְהוֹשֻׁעַ בְּחַר לָנוּ אֲנָשִׁים וְצֵא הִלָּחֵם בַּעֲמָלֵק – שמות יז, ט

When Bnei Yisrael were under imminent threat of attack by Pharaoh and his army, Moshe told them not to fear the Egyptians nor to wage war against them, for “G-d will fight for you” (Shemos 14:14).  When attacked by Amalek, however, Moshe instructed Yehoshua to band together a group of fighters and to immediately take military action. Moshe did not suffice with the “fight waged by G-d” as he had before, resorting instead to actual warfare, because Amalek represented a very different kind of threat than the one posed by Pharaoh.

Pharaoh pursued Bnei Yisrael with the goal of enslaving them and denying them of their physical rights, but his objectives weren’t necessarily to interfere with the Giving of the Torah. Amalek, on the other hand, aimed to stop Bnei Yisrael from proceeding on in to the desert to receive the Torah at Mt. Sinai.

A Time for War

Under normal circumstances, physical combat and warfare are entirely foreign to a Jew. Of a Jew, the Torah states, “The voice is the voice of Yaakov, and the hands are the hands of Eisav” (Beraishis 27:22). Fighting is in Eisav’s realm, not in Yaakov or in his descendants’ –the Jewish people.

But all bets are off when the challenge that faces the Jewish people interferes with receiving and internalizing the Torah. Therefore, when Amalek attempted to stop Bnei Yisrael from proceeding to receive the Torah, Moshe instructed them to take the route most unnatural to a Jew, physical combat, (though this battle too would be won through miraculous means.) To teach us, that when a Jew’s connection to the Torah is being challenged, all the normal considerations – such as what we are naturally suited for and what not – must be put aside, in order to bring him to the gift of Torah that is his to receive

—Likkutei Sichos vol. 1, pp. 144-145


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