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“Remember what Amalek did to you… and he did not fear Hashem.” (25:17,18)

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The Brisker Rav, z.l., asserts that in the words, “And he did not fear Hashem,” lies the key to Amalek’s iniquity over that of all other nations who fought us. His lack of yiraas Elokim, fear of Hashem, is sufficient reason for earning him the title of archenemy of Hashem. What specific aspect of his miscreant behavior emphasizes his lack of fear of Hashem?

The Talmud, Bava Kamma 79b, distinguishes between a ganov and a gazlan. The ganov is a robber who demonstrates fear of man, by virtue of the fact that he performs his invidious behavior only at night when he will not be noticed. He does not seem to be concerned with the fact that Hashem sees everything he does. On the other hand, the gazlan has no compunction whatsoever about stealing during the day, his actions exposed to the public view.  The gazlan does not make a distinction between fear of Hashem and fear of man. The punishment of the ganov is greater than that of the gazlon. This does not seem consistent, however, with the transgression. One would think that he who rejects everything, who is totally obsessed with his desire to steal, should receive the greater and more exacting punishment. This is not true. The Torah does not view the gazlon in as negative a light as the ganov. Apparently, the ganov’s form of evil is more reprehensible than that of the gazlon.  Why is this ?

The Brisker Rav explains that the gazlon is a robber who steals as a response to his present need. He makes no “cheshbonos,” well thought out calculations, as to when and where he should steal and what the consequences will be.  He simply has a desire that must be satisfied. He is not concerned about the consequences. In contrast, the ganov prepares himself well. He selects his victim, prepares his plan, and maps out an escape route. He is extremely meticulous in his effort to do evil. It is almost an art to observe the ganov in action! This is chutzpah at its apex! A person who acts with a cheshbon, plan, and yet disregards the ever watchful eye of Hashem, blatantly demonstrates his lack of yiraas Elokim. The gazlon, on the other hand, is simply a baal taavah, one overwhelmed by his desires.

Amalek did not simply attack the Jews. He carefully selected the right place and the right time. He chose their moment of spiritual weakness, when they had slackened in their Torah learning. He knew this would be the most propitious time to destroy them. Other nations simply attacked when they saw Bnei Yisrael. No so Amalek! He waited, and guilefully planned an attack that would succeed. He knew that there was a G-d who protected them. He simply did not care, because he has no yiraas Elokim. This arrogance set him apart in his evil and earned him the distinction of being considered the archenemy of Hashem and Bnei Yisrael.

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