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I have seen the good guys and the bad guys.  I have been around for a long time and I have seen the best in people and the worst. I know of the many different tribes of the spirit. I have been leaned on by the tribe of Jewing folk since their beginning. I know that the folk of this tribe teach that one should care for the stranger as for the home-born. And I know of the exception: The tribe of Amalek.  To some it would seem strange that the tribe of Jewing is committed to the destruction of another tribe. But I know the history and I know the secret meaning of this seeming bloodlust, for I was there at the beginning.  I am the Mateh, the staff made from the Tree of Life, given to Adam and Havah, passed down to the 3 forefathers and 4 foremothers[1].  I was lost in the palace of Pharaoh from the time of Yosef up to the time when Moshe as a child in Pharaoh’s daughter’s house found me and chose me over gold and silver, chose his path as a just leader of freed slaves rather than that of a Pharaoh’s sadistic apprentice. Yes and I have been there to witness the history of the tribe of Jewing.

Because I come from G’s Tree of Life, I also am aware of the mystery. I know the story and the lesson, the test and the teaching.  I am here to pass on both to any who can listen to G’s voice on the wind, to any who can sit in silence, to any who would hold me, and realize that I am a sacred connection, I am Mateh Moshe, I am from the Tree of Life to all who will hold fast to Torah.

This part of the saga begins with Yaakov running from his father’s house.  His brother Esav had secretly vowed to kill Yaakov. Esav sent his son, Elishav to chase after him and kill Yaakov for taking his birthright and blessing.  Yaakov’s mother had given him gold and silver to take to his uncle Lavan.  She knew her brother’s greed. She wanted her son to arrive with gifts in order that he would be welcomed and honored, not treated like a ‘shlepper.’ 

Elishav chased Yaakov and caught up with him.  Strangely enough when Elishav confronted Yaakov, Yaakov spoke to his nephew a teaching that would later be written in Talmud.  He said: “I know that you are here to kill me, but I do not want my blood on your hands.  It is a truth that a poor man is like one who is dead.  So take all of my gold and silver and return to your father, knowing that you have fulfilled his wishes.”  Elishav whose name means “wealth is my god” greedily accepted his uncle’s proposal and left him alive.  This is how Yaakov ended up before his uncle, penniless.

Esav was not happy with his son’s choice and chastised him for being fooled by his uncle.  And Elishav took this to heart.  When he married, he passed on his father’s hatred to his son.  And it was passed down among his kin who became the evil tribe of Amalek.  Hundreds of years later, as the descendants of Yaakov were leavingEgypt, following Moshe, they were attacked by the descendants of Elishav.  The Amalekites attacked the weak and infirm, the elders and children who were in the back of that band of Jews fleeing the oppression ofEgypt.  When the people realized what the evil Amalekites did, they took to heart the emanation that Amalekites were the eternal enemies of the descendants of Yaakov, those called Bnay Yisrael. They vowed to wipe out the Bnay Amalek, the sons of Elishav.

But you two-leggeds forget easily.  And when theKingdomofShaulwent to war with the Amalekites Shaul let Agog, their king live. When G admonished Shaul he went to kill the murderous enemy of his people.  But it was too late. Agog had raped a woman of his own tribe and she became pregnant. And it is his descendants who birthed some of the most hated and heinous murderers of all time.  Haman was such a descendant, as was Torquemada and Hitler. Others of this tribe have arisen and laid waste to humanity.  To be sure the tribe of Jewing has put limits as to the discovery and punishment of the evil doers.  There is a sacred teaching that No Amalekite is known except for his actions.  All children are innocent. No person can be accused of being a member of that despicable tribe except by his deeds.

That is the history of the animosity but that is not the deep meaning of the mystery of Amalek.

You see Amalek represents the basest of human instincts.  Every animal that hunts, seeks weakness.  A pride of lions, a pack of hyenas, a lone cougar will all seek the weakest of the herd, the lame the sick the young and the old.  Now animal nature works for animals.  The hunter culls the herd the herd stays together for protection.  It is not good, it is not bad, it simply is.  But for the human to prey upon the weak, the poor, the stranger in hir[2] midst, the widow and orphan is evil.  And for members of the tribe  to ignore those in need, being concerned only for themselves, going along to get along, hiding in the safety of the pack is a base and debasing path.  The Bnay Yisrael are taught to care for the stranger, the orphan the widow and the poor.  They are taught to be just and compassionate, to protect the weakest of the tribe and to reach out to those in need whether of their tribe or not treating the stranger as the home born.

The lesson of Amalek, the lesson for you two-leggeds, is that Amalek is in each of you (we one-leggeds, the plants of the earth, are not affected by Amalek-itis, we have our own problems with root rot and Dutch elm disease).  You two-leggeds must struggle with the base instincts, the Amalek in you and blot it out.  And, Torah gives you the reminder, as does all of history.  In every generation, you must blot out the Amalek instinct.  In order to do that you must not forget.  This is the teaching of the Torah Koan; “you shall blot out the name of Amalek from under heaven.  Do not forget!”
(Deuteronomy 25:19)


[1] This offering is part of an ever-growing series of interpretations, commentaries and stories featuring as the ‘hero’ the Mateh of Moshe. For more stories, check out  some of my earlier blogs.

[2] Trying to be gender neutral is tryng.  My attempt is s/he for he and she, and hir for him and her.

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