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    Amalek & Adon Olam

    The Amalekites attacking the Israelites, by Gerard Hoet, 1728

    The portion tells us to remember the evil of Amalek, “how he met you on the road and attacked you from the back, harming the weak ones in the rear who were starving and tired, and he did not fear God” (Deut. 25:17-19).

    Amalek was a coward, but is this why we should specially remember him?

    The Midrash makes a special point of the words, “he did not fear God”. He did not believe there was a God – or if he did, he thought that God did not care.

    What Amalek failed to acknowledge was God’s timetable.

    The psalmist asked, “How long, O Lord?” The poet Longfellow said, “The mills of God grind slowly”. God takes the long view. He assures Israel that when the time is right He will act.

    While not disagreeing, the Netziv, Rabbi Naphtali Tzvi Yehudah Berlin, has an additional interpretation. He looks at the Israelite people themselves and says they lacked faith in God. Israel feared Amalek; they forgot God.

    They should have said with Adon Olam, B’yado afkid ruchi – “our spirit is in God’s hand; God is with me and I shall not fear!”

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