What is the crime of Amalek that we are expected to remember always?
Amalek committed the crime of crimes – it was the crime of destroying yiras Hashem! At that time, בצאת ישראל ממצרים, when the Bnei Yisroel left Mitzrayim, אז נבהלו אלופי אדום אילי מואב יאחזמו רעד, all the nations saw what was doing and they were afraid. Everybody was afraid when they heard what happened at Yetzias Mitzrayim; הים ראה וינוס הירדן יסוב לאחור. A great spirit of fear of Hashem descended upon the world and nobody even moved; nobody budged to do anything against the Am Yisroel.
All of a sudden one chatzuf, one boldfaced nation, appeared on the scene. אשר קרך בדרך – He cooled you off. From the lashon קר, cold. When Amalek came and attacked the Bnei Yisroel it was a signal to all the nations – “Don’t be afraid!”
He broke this spell which had been cast on the world at that time. Of course, he didn’t entirely dispel the yiras Hashem because we know that Rachav, years later, testified that the fear that was caused by Kriyas Yam Suf was still in effect. However, the act of the effrontery, the chutzpa of Amalek which was for the purpose of showing, “We’re going to attack the Am Yisroel despite all the demonstrations of Hashem’s love of them,” that was the terrible sin.
So Hashem said, “Those who come to destroy yiras Hashem are the worst of our enemies.” The Rambam says atheism is worse than avoda zara; in his Ma’amar Kiddush Hashem the Rambam says that atheism is worse than avoda zara. Now, Amalek didn’t come to teach avoda zara; he came to teach, “Don’t be afraid of Hashem!” And that’s the worst of all things.
And therefore, when we have a command not to forget Amalek; it means that we keep in mind how great is the crime of those who are mivatel yiras Hashem.
That includes the newspapers, the leitzim who are making fun of the Torah in Eretz Yisroel, the writers that are attacking frum Jews and ridiculing yahadus. Same was in Poland; all over Poland and Russia, the Jewish writers in the newspapers ridiculed the frummeh.
In America too; I remember The Forverts in America; it was a yiddish newspaper. They once gave out a prize for those who subscribed. What was the prize? A book called ‘Kosher and Treifa’ by a man named Faigenbaum yemach shemo. It was a book that ridiculed everything in the Torah. A book by a Jew that ridiculed the Torah was given as a gift for those who subscribed to The Forvertz.
All these people, you should know, are under the curse of Amalek. Anybody that comes to destroy yiras Shamayim is the worst of our enemies because that’s the number one thing. השם מלך תגל הארץ – When people know that Hashem is the King then the whole world is a happy place.
And that’s why the utmost efforts should be invested first of all, more than anything else, towards gaining an awareness of Hashem. יראת השם ראשית דעת – Awareness of Hashem is the first of all wisdom. People should be aware of Hashem, they should learn to think about Hashem, to see the wisdom of Hashem and the kindness of Hashem; and then, on that basis, you can build all of the rest; all the great achievements of character and happiness in life.
TAPE # E-139 (May 1998)