For a parshah following the Plagues and the Leaving of Egypt, Beshalach definitely holds its own in terms of exciting events. The Splitting of the Sea, the Song of the Sea, and the manna are just a number of the stories found in this week’s parshah. I would like to focus on the last story in the parshah, the battle with Amalek. This is the first battle in what has been and continues to be a long-standing battle between the Jewish nation and Amalek. Amalek has always tried to undermine what we as Yisrael live and stand for. As we approach Purim, where Haman, a descendant of Amalek, plays a major role, it is fitting that we begin to discuss this idea.
The gemarah in Brachos (61a) describes the science of a fly. If a person has no blemishes on his body, there is nowhere for the fly to enter and feed. However, once the fly finds a single tiny cut anywhere on the body, it can latch on and begin to rot the flesh. This is a parable for the Yetzer Hara; a tzaddik whose deeds are complete and has no “cuts” cannot be affected by the Yetzer Hara, but if you give it just one little opening, it will latch on and begin to make you “rot”.
This is exactly the way Amalek operates. As long as Bnei Yisrael were at peace with each other, Amalek could not attack them. However, this episode takes place right after the famous story of “מַסָּה וּמְרִיבָה”, “Testing and Quarrelling”, named for the fact that Bnei Yisrael tested Hashem and quarreled amongst each other. The pasuk (Shemos 17:8) says that the battle took place in a place called “רְפִידִם” which comes from the Hebrew word, “להיפרד” which means to separate. It was so called because Bnei Yisrael had two separations there, from Hashem when they tested him, and from each other with their arguments. This was exactly the opening that Amalek was waiting for and he immediately came to battle with Bnei Yisrael. The Kli Yakar explains that we see in the megillah that Haman makes the same statement about the Jewish People to Achashverosh when he asks to kill them. “וַיֹּאמֶר הָמָן לַמֶּלֶךְ אֲחַשְׁוֵרוֹשׁ יֶשְׁנוֹ עַם אֶחָד מְפֻזָּר וּמְפֹרָד בֵּין הָעַמִּים” “And Haman said to the king, ‘there is one people spread out and separate amongst the nations” (Esther 3:8). Clearly, this is the aspect that Amalek always focuses on.
As we approach Purim, we must take a closer look at what caused that whole episode to happen in the first place. According to what we are saying here, since their first altercation with the Jewish People, Amalek feeds on discord, whether between us and Hashem or between ourselves. Starting from this Shabbos, let’s all work on improving our relationships with each other and with Hashem so we can ultimately defeat Amalek. And with that, we can eradicate Amalek completely and accomplish the true goal of Purim.
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