THE COMMENTARIES ask why Rashi, in the name of the sages, has singled out the two miracles of keriat yam-suf --the splitting of the sea-- and milchemet Amallek --the defeat of Amalek in battle-- as the reason for the coming of Jethro to the camp of Israel? Doesn't the Torah itself tell us that he was induced to come because of other great news that reached his hearing --"All that God had done for Moses and for Israel, his people, that the Lord had brought forth Israel our of Egypt" (Exod. 18:1)? Why, therefore, single out and stress keriat yam suf and milchemet Amalek?

Evidently Rashi and the sages felt that these miracles were unique and, therefore, had a powerful impact on the mind and heart of Jethro and impelled him to come and pronounce his famous blessing of baruch hashem (Ibid. 17:10).

The two nissim have one unusual quality in common. Both exhibited a strong feeling of achdut Yisrael --of unity in Israel. Among the ten miracles that happened to our forefathers at sea there was the miracle of le-gozer yam suf ligzarim --the sea was split into twelve parts to enable each tribe to go his own way. The Bartenura in Abot 5:5 states that the walls that separated the tribes were transparent like glass kedei she-yireu elu et elu so that they could see one another. All Jews were eager to see what was happening to the others. They were determined to see one another through the dangers that faced them at sea.

The same trait of achdut was evinced at the time of the unprovoked attack by Amalek in the desert. We are told in the Torah that the enemy lashed out against the non-observant and deviationist elements of our people. "Remember what Amalck did unto thee by the way at your coming forth out of Egypt; how he met thee by the way and smote the hindmost of thee, all that were feeble, behind thee, when thou was faint and weary; and he feared not God" (Deut. 25:17-18). On the words, "And smote the hindmost of thee," Rashi's comment is quite pertinent. He says that Amalek waged war against Chasrei koach machmat chataam shehayah ha-anan poltam --against those Jews who were weak because of the erosion brought about by sins they had committed; against those who were spewed out of the clouds of glory. The Yalkut further identities the nichshakim as those belonging to the tribe of Dan who were idol worshippers. Perhaps the reference is to those who carried the infamous pessel Michah --the idol that was fashioned by one named Michah.

In the face of all the evidence that the attack was directed against deviationists, idolators and sinners --why the dreadful anger at Amalek? Why did Moses order Joshua, "Choose for us men, and go out and fight with Amalek" (Exod. 17: 9), on which Rashi, in the name of the Mechilta, comments, "Get out of the cloud and make war against him?"

One can imagine that there were people in the desert who said, "Why should we exert ourselves and fight for the men of Dan who are idol worshippers? What business have we with those who by their own deviations and weaknesses in matters of faith have put themselves out of the anan --of the protective clouds of glory? On the contrary. Let those, posheim get their just deserts at the hands of Amllek. But Moses and Joshua felt otherwise, and the Almighty agreed with them, for He said, "The Lord will wage war against Amalek from generation to generation" (Ibid. 17:16). God approved the devotion of the two great Leaders who were willing to share the fate of those who because of weakness found themselves outside the camp of the faithful, in the hope of bringing them back into the fold of machneh schechinah.

When on Saturday, March 9, 1978 a nefarious attack by the treacherous murderers of the P.L.O. took place on busloads carrying men, women and children on the road between Haifa and Tel Aviv, there were misguided Jewish zealots who were matzdik et ha-din --who said that they were punished because they violated the sanctity of the Sabbath. Klal Yisrael, while not condoning chilul Shabbo, saw in that act the hand of Amalek. The response was one of outrage and sorrow, and the call was milchamah la-Shem ba-Amalek midor dor. We reaffirmed the concept that all Jews, even those who are chasrei koach, are precious to us. When a Jew is attacked simply because he is a Jew, the attack is leveled against all Jews, and we must respond in kind. All we need do is to try our utmost to bring the straying back under the protection of the anan haShem.

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