left Egypt, Amalek attacked them. It is obvious from the plain reading of the text that the war was waged on two fronts. Yehoshua led the physical battle and fought on the ground, and Moshe waged the spiritual war by sitting on a rock on a hill with his arms raised and supported by Aharon and Chur. How do these three people represent the spiritual forces that can defeat Amalek? The
explains that Aharon represented the unity of
, for he was known for his love of the people and his constant effort to bring peace. Chur, on the other hand, was the champion of the glory and honor of Hashem. Moshe was the unifying factor, holding it all together. Rabbi Roberts explains that
needed the merit of these two men. Aharon represented the values between man and his fellow man, and Chur represented the values between man and God. The goal, writes the Chasam Sofer, is to meld these two qualities for this creates blessings and joy. Moshe represented this synthesis, adds Rabbi Schwab. Whereas for all other battles Moshe prayed alone, here in the battle against Amalek, he required both these attributes to join him.
TheShvilei Pinchaswrites that this was the most intense battle ever fought. Amalek tried to eradicate the knowledge of God's presence in the world by the introduction of evil spirits that would shroud God's presence. These three spirits weremashchit-destroyer,af-anger, andcheimah-rage which represent the initials for Moshe,Aharon andChur, the three tzadikim who would counteract these forces. This is the threefold evil cited inTehillim78:38 and recited beforeMaariv:"He forgives iniquity and does not destroy; frequently He withdraws His anger, and does not arouse His entire rage."
Bnei Yisrael asked,"Is Hashem truly within us or not?" This slight doubt presented Amalek with the opening to attack, for the mission of Amalek is to cast doubt into our faith, writesMeor Vashemesh. Therefore Moshe's uplifted hands became the guideposts to send the eyes of Bnei Yisrael back toward heaven and to strengthen their faith. Rabbi Wolbe inAleh Shorexplains that they did not question whether or not Hashem exists. Rather they questioned whether His involvement in life was practical or whether His Torah was merely theoretical?
Amalek, the grandson of Esav, inherited the DNA that would confine Torah to intellectual discussion. After all, Esav was intellectually immersed in Torah and his head is buried inMeorat Hamachpelahprecisely for this reason. But he never let Torah principles guide his actions. Otherwise, he never would have sold the birthright for a bowl of soup! We must internalize Torah, writes the Halekach Vehalibuv. We must strive to be talmidei chachamim, constant students of the truth of Torah, and bnei Torah, a metaphorical son of our Torah teachers.
Our Torah must impact our lives. The purpose of prayer is to bring us closer to Hashem and to a stronger faith that we must rely constantly on Hashem, writes the Tiv Hatorah.
This why Moshe raised his hands above his head, explains Rabbi Tatz. Hands symbolize action, and as the people who accepted the Torah at Sinai, we profess that we will do, naaseh, before nishma, whether or not we understand with our heads. As long as the hands were higher than the head, Bnei Yisrael prevailed, but if the head and the ego led the way, Bnei Yisrael faltered.
The Halekach Vehalebuv explains why Moshe supported himself by sitting on an ëven, a rock. The three letters that spell out ë-v-en are an acronym for the three tractates that one should study if he hopes to become a righteous person: Avot-Ethics of our Fathers,which focuses on interpersonal/ social relationships;Berachot- which focuses on our relationship with Hashem and thanking Him for all that we have; and Nezikin- Damages which teaches respect for the property of others. These are the constant battles of Amalek: Do I need to acknowledge Hashem? Do I need to respect the rights and the property of others? Let me lift my hands and show you that they are clean and pure in all my dealings.
The Alshich Hakadosh explains that Moshe understood that he would need to tap into the merit of our forefathers to succeed in this battle. Moshe represented Yaakov, absolute and complete truth. But he needed Avraham and Yitzchak alongside him. Avraham had the imperfect Yishmael along with the righteous Yitzchak, while Yitzchak fathered the evil Esav. To counter these, Moshe drafted Aharon who, through his own constant service ofchessed, would negate the influence of Yishmael and perfect thechessedof Avraham. Similarly, Chur would be the counterbalance to the evil Esav who misused the gevurah(strength) that Yitzchak represented. Moshe could thus draw on the merit of our forefathers without involving their evil offspring. The redemption, writes the Sefat Emes, will always come through the merit of our matriarchs even when the merit of the patriarchs has ended.
The parsha ends with the promise that Hashem will erase the memory-a(e)mcheh - of Amalek from under the heavens. The Vilna Gaon explains that emcheh is as an acronym for our deliverers from each exile. Our deliverers from Egyptian exile were Aharon,Moshe,Chur and Hashem. The principals in the redemption from the Persian exile were (A)Esther,Mordechai, Charvonah and Hashem. Our final redemption will be through Eliyahu, Moshiach, eight (ch) princes and Hashem. With Hashem guiding us, we will vanquish the evil forces of Amalek. May it be speedily, in our days.