The Purpose of the Priestly Garments
Click here to read moreThe Continuous Light of the Menorah
The Mishkan, the Kohanim, Korban Tamid and the Miliuim
The Importance of the Korban Tamid
The Urim vTumim
The Ephod and the Choshen
Understanding the Tzitz and the Mizbeach HaKtores
Last year’s roundup: link
In a previous post, I quoted R. Nachum Rabinovitch as disagreeing with R. Moshe Soloveichik’s inference from the Rambam that the mitzvah to completely destroy Amalek applies to any nation that acts like Amalek (link). I have since seen that R. Eliezer Melamed (Revivim: Am, Eretz, Tzava, p. 82) also explicitly rejects R. Soloveichik’s approach. However, he adds that we should still learn from the idea behind it:
Even though the law is not like him [R. Soloveichik], and the rules of Amalek do not apply to enemies in every generation, we still learn from this that there is a moral responsibility placed on the Jewish people to unconditionally win against its enemies.
Talmid posts on Hirhurim: In a recent Q and A session at Gruss, Rav Lichtenstein said that the Rav did not base his entire psak about reparations on that shtikel torah. The Rav felt that it was morally and ethically problematic to take money from the German government and used this vort to "beef up" his argument. So in Rav Lichtenstein’s view it wasn’t just drush, but wasn’t quite a psak halacha either – a happy medium.
Anon posts: "I have since seen that R. Eliezer Melamed (Revivim: Am, Eretz, Tzava, p. 82) also explicitly rejects R. Soloveichik’s approach."
1. Does he agree with all this (from your original post on R Rabinovitch’s position):
"And in Sefer Ha-Mitzvos (positive commandment 187), the Rambam writes that just like the commandment to destroy the seven nations does not apply in every generation since they have been spread among the other nations and are unrecognizable, so too the commandment to destroy Amalek. Therefore, writes R. Rabinovitch, clearly the idea of "their memory has already been erased" also applies to Amalek and there is no halakhic concept of a "spiritual Amalek". Then why doesn’t the Rambam write that Amalek’s memory has already been erased? R. Rabinovitch explains that this is precisely what is implied when the Rambam begins discussion of this commandment with "and also" (ve-chen). The same clause that was stated about the seven Canaanite nations also applies to Amalek."
that amalek has already been destroyed, or just that there is no mitzva for a "spiritual amalek"?
2. According to R Rabinovitch’s stance that amalek has already been destroyed, why do we still read parshas zachor if the mitzva has ended?
SHAUL WRITES: In the Y.U. COMMENTATOR series on the Rav by his talmidim, Shmuel Boylan writes that he discussed this footnote with the Rav.
"I last spoke to the Rav after he had retired from the yeshiva and was living in relative seclusion in Boston with his daughter and son-in-law. Once again, access to the Rav was restricted, due to his illness and infirmity-but this time, I was successful, and was granted entry. The Rav was frailer than I remembered him. I first asked the Rav about an opinion he had quoted from his father, zt"l, that a nation (such as the Nazis) could be transformed into Amalek; I asked whether such a halakhic designation would then have implications with regard to innocent wives and children, as well. The Rav strongly rejected such a concept, reminding me that the Rambam required an approach for shalom prior to milkhemet Amalek-and that such a requirement made action against innocent parties impossible"
Joseph Kaplan writes:
"Do you think the Rav meant that all men, women and children of, let’s say, Palestinians must be exterminated?! "
The Rav himself answered this question in KDD in the famous footnote 25 where he wrote: "However, the obligation to wipe out individual Amalekites, as set forth in the verse from Deuteronomy, applies to only genealogical descendants of Amalek." Since the Palestinians are not such genealogical descendants, even if the Rav was speaking halachically in KDD (which I believe is, at the very least, not clear), he wrote, explicitly, that he did NOT mean that all Palestinians (or Germans in WWII etc.) should be exterminated.
Jerry: "So basically the Rav thought that enemies of the Jews are "Amalek"…except that they’re not really, because even the Rav realized that that would be ridiculous. The whole notion of "conceptualizing" a real, historical national group – in any sort of halakhic sense – is the ultimate reductio ad absurdum of the Brisker methodology."
No, because, as the Rav points out, there are two mizvot: one in Sh’mot to wage war against Amalek and one in Dvarim to eradicate Amalek. It is the second mitzvah that applies only to genealogical descendants of Amalek. The first does apply to the spiritual descendants. Thus, as I understand the Rav, it is imperitive to battle the spiritual descendants: the Nazis, Hamas, Hetzbollah and others of their ilk. But as to eradicating the nation — i.e., "exterminat[ing] all the Palestinians, men, women, children and their animals," in the words of one commenter– applies only to biological Amalek which does not today exist.
This understanding, I think, fits in well with the historical context of the Rav’s original presentation in 1956. The Rav was speaking to students and he wanted to reach their kishkes about supporting and defending Israel which was under siege at that time. He exhorted them not to make the mistake that he thought his generation made about the Nazis so he tried to get them to understand the need to do battle against these forces — battle in the real sense as it applied to Israel and the IDF and battle in other ways that would be appropriate for American Jews. Killing "men, women and children" was simply not what he was talking about as he explained in the footnote.