Reading the Text: Haftarah Zachor II
Transcribed and prepared by Anna Beller: You need to picture the story, that it’s not just the battle but you must keep in mind the struggle that’s going on inside Shaul. You must keep this in mind or you won’t understand the story. Again: It’s not a battle of black and white.
And Shaul says to the descendants of Jethro (the father in law of Moshe), Go away from living near the Amalek.
They were Bedouins, going from place to place. Who were the first Bedouins? The descendants of Kayin. It says in the verse that the descendants of Kayin where the first Bedouins. In the pasuk it says that Kayin’s grandson, Yavol was the father of all those “who live in tents and travel with their animals” – Bedouins.
That why Kayin and Yitsro have the same name and that why the descendants of Jethro are called Kayni – Kayin.
They are so interconnected that the zohar says that soul of Kayin reappeared in Yitro. The ultimate outsider, Kayin can never settle anywhere and so is Yitro, he becomes a priest in every religion and then he leaves. “Now I know that God is the true God,” converts, and then he leaves; he’s the ultimate outsider.
Shaul tells Yitro’s descendants to go away, which by the way, not only informs Amalek of the impending attack, but probably allowed some of them to escape as Keinites!. Why is it only after the fight stopped it says, “Shaul goes the city of Amalek,” again the battle, and then he said to the keini, “Leave!” It says that the keini leave and Shaul fights the battle. What happening is that he’s already having mixed feeling, “what am I doing, about to destroy a nation , makes moral decisions and now, fully aware of everything that’s going on in this battle, so that when he sees the innocent bystanders he gets them out of harm’s way , and this is a positive thing, as these are people who are connected to the Jewish people.
This is something that manifests itself after he goes through this internal struggle.
“I don’t want you to be killed with Amalek, and you did a kindness when the Jews were coming from Egypt. What was the kindness Yitro did? He fed Moshe after Moshe saved his daughters and let him stay in his house. So obviously feeding Moshe was a kindness to all the Jewish people.
Say leave because there’s no reason for you to be killed, and because you have a connection to the Jewish people. But leave because your grandfather once did a favor for Moshe and doing a favor for Moshe is like doing a favor for all the Jewish people and therefore I don’t want to kill you- why go through all this Talmudic reasoning? Say I don’t want to kill you, I don’t have a commandment to kill you, leave.
And what’s interesting is that it has to do with a meal which is connected to the meal of Purim. Both the meal of Esther’s party and the one we need to have on Purim. But it’s not the time for that its just some food for thought.
Another opinion: In the commentaries about what was the favor that Yitro did for the Jewish people. Well, it was his idea to establish the system of the judges- 50, 100, 100. So because you did us that favor we don’t want to kill you.
What’s interesting is that that favor that Yitro did was not a black and white good favor, there was a down side to it too. Because they no longer dealt directly with Moshe and in fact the portion of Devarim . Moshe criticizes them, are you crazy? You had a chance to deal with a judge or dealing with me you; should deal with me. Doesn’t make sense.
And then after they decide to not go directly with Moshe what happened at the end of the portion of Yitro, after hearing God’s voice, we don’t want to deal with You directly! Yitro, the outsider, the man of distance, introduced the idea of distance; distance from Moshe, distance from God. It’s not so black and white that Yitro did them a favor.
So all the boundaries are going to begin to be listed over and everything will be in gray form this point on because there’s a lot going on here and that is, by the way, the power of Amalek.
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