See No Evil
By Rabbi Raymond Beyda
Dedicated in Loving Memory of Harry Mitnick [Tzvi Herschel bar
by his granddaughter, Rita Matcher Silverman.
"YOU SHALL SURELY OBLITERATE THE MEMORY OF AMALEK FROM UNDER THE
One of the 613 commandments of the Torah is called "Zakhor" - that is, to
mention and thereby remember what Amalek did when the Jewish people left
Egypt and crossed safely through the sea. Hashem also commanded that we
physically annihilate the nation and all of its possessions completely.
What makes this nation so different from all our other enemies that they
were singled out for destruction? Our Rabbis explain that although the
rule is that even a really bad person is not completely wicked – the
people of Amalek were totally evil – they were the essence of evil in the
After Shaul was anointed as King of the Jews, the prophet Shemuel
instructed him to carry out this commandment He gathered his troops and
fought a successful battle but stopped short of completing the task. He
did not kill the cattle and left Agag, the King, alive. His misplaced
mercy resulted in the birth of Haman – the villain of the Megillah, many
Why did Shaul, who was the most righteous Jew, disobey the direct command
of Hashem through His prophet? Our sages teach that he questioned the
validity of totally wiping out everybody. He had doubts as to whether or
not to destroy healthy sheep. He made calculations that lead him to the
wrong conclusions. The lesson is that one should accept the word of Hashem
regardless of whether or not one understands or agrees with the
instruction. The numerical value of the letters of the word Amalek is
equal to the numerical value of safek – doubt. The technique used by one’s
evil inclination to get one to violate the Torah is to inject a little
question into one’s good sense and slowly build a strong case against the
performance of a misvah or for the violation of a restriction The sin
begins with doubt.
The unique treatment of this essentially wicked nation was not meant to be
limited to a time when we could identify and destroy the bodies of their
people. Even had Shaul destroyed them completely we would still have an
eternal command to obliterate Amalek from under the Heavens. How is one to
do that today? We don’t know who they are?
A person must realize that evil is manifest in different forms throughout
history. One must decipher and identify evil in the world and work to
obliterate it. If one were standing in a dark room it would be impossible
to physically defeat the darkness or to push it out of the room. To rid
oneself of the dark one could, however, light a candle, and the black
would be driven away.
On the holiday of Purim, the people reaccepted the Torah with joy. We too
have a chance in every generation to recommit to the Torah through study
and performance of its misvot. Every word studied and every commandment
that is kept lights another candle of truth and drives back the evil from
another spot in our World.
That is our task at hand. Accept Torah joyously. Commit to learn more and
at set times. Accept the Word of Hashem without doubt and bring a
salvation that is final. The erasure of evil is accomplished by the
performance of good.
Text Copyright © 2006 by Rabbi Raymond Beyda and Torah.org.