All-Out War Against Our Enemies

Just as the Israelites waged an all-out war, even though the cause of the war was the capture of a single female slave, so too in our own day.

Rabbi Dov Begon

Judaism לבן ריק
לבן ריק
Arutz 7
Twice Amalek fought Israel in the desert, first at Rephidim and then at Arad. Regarding the first, it says, "Amalek came, and fought Israel at Rephidim" (Exodus 17:8), which our sages expound to be "where Israel became lax [rafu yedeihem] regarding the Torah." The second time was after Aaron's death, when the clouds of glory receded and Amalek imagined Israel had been weakened: "When the Canaanite king of Arad, who lived in the Negev, heard that the Israelites were traveling along the Atharim Highway, he attacked them and took some captives." (Numbers 21:1)

This second time, Amalek disguised itself as Canaanites. They spoke Canaanite, but they were really Amalekites (Rashi, ibid.). The difference between the Canaanites and Amalekites is that the former fought Israel over conflicting interests. After all, Israel was coming to conquer land that was under their control. Amalek, by contrast, fought Israel because they hated Israel and wished to annihilate the Jewish People, like wicked Haman and like that enemy of Israel from Germany, may his name be blotted out.

Indeed, in the Amalekite's war at Arad, they succeeded in taking a single slave girl captive. In doing so, they succeeded in their goal of showing that it was possible to harm Israel in this way and to show that Israel was just like any other nation.

Israel's reaction was appropriate. They set out to crush Amalek, engaging them in an all-out war: "The Israelites made a vow to G-d, and said, 'If You give this nation into our hand, we will render their cities taboo [chormah].' G-d heard Israel's voice, and He allowed them to defeat the Canaanites. The Israelites declared them and their cities taboo. The place was therefore named Chormah." (Numbers 21:2,3)

Today, the Arabs have been fighting us for over 100 years and their goal is to destroy the State of Israel. It is true that they, like the Canaanites, claim we conquered their land. Yet, they are really fighting us because they hate the Jews, like Amalek, as evidenced in their well-known cry, "Itbah el-Yahud!" - "Slaughter the Jews!" Indeed, they are trying to kill us, and they do not distinguish between soldier and civilian, husband and wife, young and old - so great is their hatred. They understand that hurting one Jew hurts the entire Jewish People.

The State of Israel and the Israel Defense Forces have to learn from the war on Arad. Just as the Israelites waged an all-out war, even though the cause of the war was the capture of a single female slave, so too in our own day. For every Jewish loss, whatever it may be, we must wage all-out war against our enemies, who proclaim for all to hear that it is their desire to destroy our country. Only through strength and fortitude will the longed-for peace arrive, as it says, "The L-rd will give strength to His people. The L-rd will bless His people with peace." (Psalm 29:11)