The attack of the nation of Amalek took place within a few days of the
Exodus from Egypt and the Crossing of the Sea. One would think that no one
would have the nerve to ambush a nation who so clearly was G-d's favorite
and the beneficiary of His Divine Providence. The Midrash compares Amalek
to a man who jumped into a boiling bathtub that all others were afraid to
enter for fear of being scalded by the hot water. After he climbed out of
the tub - although he was burned - others saw the waters as "cooled off"
and also attempted to harm the Jews.
The question is obvious. If this rebellious soul suffered the burns that
the onlookers feared why did the spectators become more confident and
brazen? Shouldn't the defeat of Amalek have discouraged the other nations?
Sifte Hakhamim explain a deep psychological principle. Actions that are
morally offensive are subconsciously removed from the realm of
possibility. This inner alarm system protects an individual from
spiritually harmful acts. When one sees another break the fence the
psychological barrier is broken. The bath - although still boiling --
cooled off in the onlookers perspective.
When our people left Egypt and Crossed the Sea "The nations heard and
trembled"[Shemot 15:14]. No country would dare attack the seemingly
invincible Jews. Amalek disregarded the warning signs and paid the price
of military defeat. The damage, however, was done. The unthinkable was now
We live in a society where the unthinkable is now commonplace. The news is
filled with acts of immorality, vulgarity and shameless behavior that our
Holy Torah classifies as abominations.Unfortunately we are unwilling
onlookers and cannot escape the effects of all that we see and hear. The
images and sounds that bombard us daily are breaking the fences that
protect us from perversion and sin. Living in a bad "neighborhood" affects
all the residents good and bad alike.
In these days of Elul we have an opportunity for soul searching and the
rebuilding of our moral barriers so that our holy souls can remain clean
and pure -safe from the contamination of contemporary society. A study of
our books of ethics and an audit of our personal morality books will help
us survive this technological onslaught and bring us to sucessful judgment
on Rosh Hashannah. May we all be successful in our efforts to return to
the service of Hashem