The Vulnerability of Mistakes
Who advised Amalek to attack Israel? Balaam. His strategy was that the children of Avraham should attack the nation that existed on the merit of Avraham.
Imagine what it was like for the Children of Israel, who understood the power of their connection to Avraham Avinu, to be attacked by his other grandchild.
Amalek was more than just a competing grandchild of Avraham. Amalek was the result of a mistake of Avraham and Yitzchak and Yaakov! Re’uma wanted to be connected to the family of Avraham. She asked this first outreach rabbi to convert, and this man, who converted so many, refused to convert her. She waited for Yitzchak and asked him for the right to convert, and he too refused her, as did Yaakov, the third of the patriarchs. She was so desperate to be connected to this family that she became a concubine to Eliphaz, Eisav’s son, and bore Amalek.
Amalek resulted from the refusal of each of the three Avot to convert a woman desperate for a connection to the family. The attack of Amalek was a reminder of a mistake made by each of the three Avot.
Israel could not rely on the merit of their grandfather because he was Amalek’s grandfather as well. Israel could not rely on the merit of Avraham because it was Abraham’s mistake that resulted in Amalek. They stood alone and vulnerable as never before.
Balaam was a genius, but Moshe was a greater genius. Moshe hands connected his people directly to God. They did not need to rely on Avraham. They could connect directly to God. In fact, the reason they could derive benefit from the merit of Avraham was because of their connection with God. They were not vulnerable. Amalek could not connect to their grandfather Avraham, as could the Children of Israel. They were not vulnerable because of Abraham’s mistakes. They existed in the hands of God, which they felt reaching to them as Moshe’s hands were reaching to God.
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