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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Enemies Who We Create

This source sheet is my attempt to find language for having enemies who we may have created. We likely did not mean to create them; we thought we were doing the right thing and misunderstood the implications of our actions. On one hand, even if their creation is our fault it is also be our responsibility to destroy them. On the other hand, it is our responsibility to ensure that we do not create them again. Some of the Rabbinic thinking around Amalek - the nation we are required to wipe out - might fit this pattern.

בראשית פרשת וישלח פרק לו
Genesis Chapter 36
(12) And Timna was the concubine of Eliphaz the son of Esav; then Eliphaz gave birth to Amalek; these are the children of Adah, wife of Esav.
(יב) וְתִמְנַע הָיְתָה פִילֶגֶשׁ לֶאֱלִיפַז בֶּן־עֵשָׂו וַתֵּלֶד לֶאֱלִיפַז אֶת־עֲמָלֵק אֵלֶּה בְּנֵי עָדָה אֵשֶׁת עֵשָׂו:
(22) And the children of Lotan were Chori and Hemam and the sister of Lotan was Timna.
(כב) וַיִּהְיוּ בְנֵי־לוֹטָן חֹרִי וְהֵימָם וַאֲחוֹת לוֹטָן תִּמְנָע:
(40) And these are the chieftains of Esav according to their family and their geography by their names: chieftain of Timna, chieftain of Alva, chieftain of Y’tet.
(מ) וְאֵלֶּה שְׁמוֹת אַלּוּפֵי עֵשָׂו לְמִשְׁפְּחֹתָם לִמְקֹמֹתָם בִּשְׁמֹתָם אַלּוּף תִּמְנָע אַלּוּף עַלְוָה אַלּוּף יְתֵת:

שמות פרשת בשלח פרק יז
Exodus Chapter 17
(ח) וַיָּבֹא עֲמָלֵק וַיִּלָּחֶם עִם־יִשְׂרָאֵל בִּרְפִידִם:
(8) Then Amalek came and fought with Israel in R’fidim.

The Torah enjoins us to destroy Amalek. Amalek is the nation who destroyed the weakest among us. This evil cannot be allowed to continue, even and especially when we feel comfortable and without fear.
דברים פרשת כי תצא פרק כה
Deuteronomy Chapter 25
(יז) זָכוֹר אֵת אֲשֶׁר־עָשָׂה לְךָ עֲמָלֵק בַּדֶּרֶךְ בְּצֵאתְכֶם מִמִּצְרָיִם:
(17) Remember what Amalek did to you on the road in upon your exiting from Egypt.
(יח) אֲשֶׁר קָרְךָ בַּדֶּרֶךְ וַיְזַנֵּב בְּךָ כָּל־הַנֶּחֱשָׁלִים אַחֲרֶיךָ וְאַתָּה עָיֵף וְיָגֵעַ וְלֹא יָרֵא אֱלֹהִים:
(18) That he encountered you on the road and chopped of your tail - all the weak behind you - and you were tired and weary; and he did not fear God.
(יט) וְהָיָה בְּהָנִיחַ יְקֹוָק אֱלֹהֶיךָ לְךָ מִכָּל־אֹיְבֶיךָ מִסָּבִיב בָּאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר יְקֹוָק־אֱלֹהֶיךָ נֹתֵן לְךָ נַחֲלָה לְרִשְׁתָּהּ תִּמְחֶה אֶת־זֵכֶר עֲמָלֵק מִתַּחַת הַשָּׁמָיִם לֹא תִּשְׁכָּח: פ
(19) Then it will be when Hashem your God gives you peace from all of you enemies around the land that Hashem your God gives to you, as inheritance to possess: you shall wipe out the memory of Amalek from under the heaven; do not forget.

Our Rabbis see the creation of Amalek as the fault of our greatest ancestors. This does not undo our requirement to wipe out Amalek. But it does remind us to not push away those who want to join us.
תלמוד בבלי מסכת סנהדרין דף צט עמוד ב
Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin 99b
Timnah was the daughter of kings, as it says, “Chieftain of Lotan… chieftain of Timna.” And every “chieftain” is a king without a crown.
תמנע בת מלכים הואי, דכתיב אלוף לוטן אלוף תמנע. וכל אלוף - מלכותא בלא תאגא היא.
She desired to convert. She came to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but they did not accept her. She went and became a concubine to Eliphaz the son of Esav. She said, “It is better to be a handmaiden to this nation and not be a master for another nation.”
בעיא לאיגיורי, באתה אצל אברהם יצחק ויעקב ולא קבלוה, הלכה והיתה פילגש לאליפז בן עשו. אמרה: מוטב תהא שפחה לאומה זו, ולא תהא גבירה לאומה אחרת.
Out of her came Amalek, who afflicted Israel. What is the reason? That it was not necessary to push her away.
נפק מינה עמלק, דצערינהו לישראל. מאי טעמא - דלא איבעי להו לרחקה.

Rav Menashe Klein suggests the forefathers might even have meant well by pushing away Timnah. What they did not realize is that their very actions were the cause of the future they feared. Hopefully we can remember not to repeat that mistake.
שו"ת משנה הלכות חלק ט סימן תה
Responsa of Meshane Halakhot, Part 9, Siman 405
Menashe Klein, 20th Century United States
But the forefathers converted all who came to convert! And perhaps they saw prophetically that Amalek would derive from her. Therefore, they pushed her away.
והרי אבות גיירו כל מי שבא להתגייר ואולי ראו שיצא ממנה עמלק בנבואה ולכן הרחיקוה
But they did not see that it was because of the pushing away that Amalek would emerge.
והם לא ראו שע"י ההרחקה יצא עמלק

“These movements typically originate among provincial elites; men and women filled with hate for the culture of the capital city, and at the same time angered by their exclusion from it.” (From Jowitt, Ken, New World Order: The Leninist Extinction, University of California Press, 1992, pg. 275).

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