Amalek - Parshat Zachor
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Estimated Time: 90 minutes
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Discuss Amalek, their history, and the relevant mitzvot relating to them.
This week I heard some chanichim discussing how they had learnt that Arabs are synonymous with Amalek. This is an extremely frightening thing for anyone to believe, and I think it is our duty to make sure they do not think this is true. If Arabs were Amalek, we would all be in extreme trouble, as we would be forced to declare a holy war against them. This, of course, is not the case – we don’t know who Amalek is and it is possible that today Amalek is only a theoretical concept. Certainly the absolute evil that Amalek represents cannot be equated with the Arabs, no matter how repugnant and immoral their actions may be. Having said this, the point of this snif is NOT to discuss our conflict with the Arabs. It is to discuss Amalek, their history, and the relevant mitzvot, and to make sure the chanichim realize that they are not equal to the Arabs.
The family tree of the Jews (Yakov), the Arabs (Yishmael) and Amalek. (Bereshit 36:12):
Avraham à Yitzchak à Esav à Adah à Eliphaz à Amalek
(Shmot 17:8) Amalek attacks the Jews in Refidim on the way out from
. Yehoshua leads the army against them, with Moshe standing on top of a mountain with his hands raised to the sky. Hashem tells Moshe to record that He will erase the memory of Amalek from under the heavens. Egypt
(Bamidbar 13:29) Amalek lives in the
(Devarim 25:17) “Remember what Amalek id to you, on the way when you were leaving
(Shmuel I) Shaul goes to war to destroy Amalek, and defeats them but takes spoils and lets the king Agag live, until Shmuel comes and kills him.
(Esther) The megilah refers to Haman as “HaAgagi,” which meforshim explain as referring to Agag, the king Shaul saved.
Game 1: Family Tree
Divide the chanichim into two groups. Pick one person from each group to give clues. Send him to the other side of the room. A Madrich gives each the clues one by one (in different orders. One starts from the first clue, the other starts from the last.) The chanichim on their team have to understand these clues and arrange the cards in order. I think we can work under the assumption that the kids can properly arrange Avraham, Yitzchak, Yakov, Yishmael and Esav. But we will still give them some clues involving this. Whichever team finishes first wins
- Esav is Avraham’s grandson
- Amalek is not a descendent of Yishmael
- Adah’s great-grandfather’s name begins with the same letter as his.
- There are two sets of brothers, of whom Yakov is a twin
- Eliphaz is Yakov’s great nephew
- Yishmael is Yitzchak’s older brother
- Amalek’s great-grandfather was a twin.
Discussion: Make sure the chanichim have properly arranged the cards in order. Now that we see the family tree, ask a) who Am Yisrael is descendent from (obviously Yisrael, ie. Yakov); b) who Amalek is descendent from (clearly from a number of people, but the main ancestor is Esav.); c) who, according to both Chazal and the Arabs, do the Arabs descend from? The answer is Yishmael, though the chanichim may not know this one. Point out that obviously, Arabs are NOT the same people as the Arabs. This is 100% clear from the Torah and Chazal. (They may protest. But this is an important point for you to make. Arabs are NOT Amalek. Feel free to get sidetracked on this issue.)
Game 2: Simon
There used to be a game called Simon, which had 4 buttons of different colors which would light up. The first round one light would blink. You would then have to hit that color. The next round, the same color would blink, and then a new one. You would have to repeat the pattern, hitting those two lights in order. The game would proceed, each round repeating the same pattern and adding a new color, which you would have to repeat. For example, round one would be BLUE. Round 2: BLUE – RED Round 3: BLUE – RED – GREEN round 4: BLUE – RED – GREEN – RED round 5: BLUE – RED – GREEN – RED – YELLOW….
Divide the chanichim into groups of 5, plus one madrich.
Pick one chanich to play. 4 others sit in a circle and act as the colored lights. Each of them should be given a letter (or a color). The chanichim take turns standing up or saying A B C or D to simulate the lights lighting up. The madrich gives them instruction who is added each round. (You can do this before they begin repeating the code, or after.) Each round they repeat the pattern, add a new one, and then the player has to copy them. The 5 people alternate so that each gets a chance to play. (with dif. Codes.) A player gets points for each round s/he completes. If one of the 4 people messes up the code they get a negative point and it must be repeated before the player copies the code.
Here are a few codes in written form, so that you, the madrich, don’t forget:
This game is kind of complicated, but I think it could be very cool. An alternative (or additional game) could be some form of “I’m going to Israel and taking…” where we go around the circle and everyone adds one thing to the list. If you can’t remember the order, you are out.
In the back of the siddur there are 6 “Remembrances” listed, that some people say every morning. See if the chanichim can think of them.
- Leaving Egypt
- Har Sinai
- The Golden Calf
- What Hashem did to Miriam
- The Shabbat
Reading these 6 things is one way we can remember these things. However, for many of them, we are always supposed to rememeber (Har Sinai, Yetziat Mitzraim). For Amalek, the mitzva is specifically to remember once a year, which is what we do on Shabbat Zachor. It is the one time all year that it is a mitzva De’orayta to hear the Torah, which is why everyone comes to the Beit Keneset that Shabbat. Shabbat Zachor always comes before Purim because Haman is considered to be Amalek, as he is referred to as “HaAgagi”, and Agag was the name of a king of Amalek we learn about in Sefer Shmuel.
Game 3: Growing Up
This game falls under the category of theatre games. Sit the kids in a open circle (or a chet, just make sure there is a beginning and end point). Pick three kids to start. They are given specific roles to act out. Ridiculous scenarios should be chosen. One of the kids is given the role of “parent” while the other two are children. A situation is chosen that the kids are arguing about together to get something from the parent – ie that they shouldn’t have to go to school, should be allowed to watch TV all night, should be allowed to drive even though they’re 11. (Alternatively, they could be arguing with each other and the parent mediates. eg. Fighting over TV channel, over food, over the car, over the gameboy, or just plain fighting.)
From this point, the game can go one of two ways. A: Have each group argue, and when things get dull, pick a new set of 3. B: In the middle of the argument, pick people to substitute the kids in strange ways. By this I mean you can replace one kid, and give the new kid a different point to argue, which the other two don’t know about. (ie. one kid continues arguing about going to Disneyworld by bike, while the other begins arguing that he should be allowed to eat jello through his nose with a straw.) Be creative and fun things will happen. Just be careful that it doesn’t go over the kids’ heads.
When we’re growing up, a lot of times we don’t understand rules our parents make. They tell us we have to go to sleep, or that we have to eat veggies. Whether we understand these or not, we have to do them. When we get older, sometimes we begin to understand why these rules were made. With Hashem things work a bit like this. He made rules for us to live by, and we have to keep them no matter whether we understand them or not. A lot of times people don’t understand the mitzva to erase Amalek – it seems very wrong to have a mitzva to kill people. And we don’t necessarily understand the idea about how evil works. When George Bush says that Osama Bin Laden is evil, he’s making a point. But it doesn’t mean the same thing as Hashem telling us that Amalek is absolute evil. None of us have the right to declare that someone is Amalek, because none of us no if it’s true, and we don’t understand what’s absolute evil the way Hashem does, just like when you’re 5 years old you don’t understand why you can’t drive. You don’t understand how complicated it is. The idea of Amalek is not something we can understand. But still, we know that Hashem said it, and therefore we know it’s right. But we can’t apply it today because only Hashem knows what the essence of Amalek is.
Concept of evil
Concept of accepting what Hashem tells us as absolute truth.