Combating Cruelty
Parashat Ki Teitzei

Shai Held

Appalled by its savage offensive against Israel, the Torah considers Amalek a perpetual enemy of both God and Israel. While Amalek’s behavior is undoubtedly abhorrent, there is something worrying about both the depth and the duration of hatred prescribed: If Amalek is detestable, why must its children be denounced as enemies of God? And by mandating Israel to kill every last Amalekite, does not the Torah run the risk of inculcating in Israel the very cruelty it so detests? To read the Torah’s troubling charge to wipe out Amalek is, of necessity, to struggle with it.

Combating Cruelty: Amalek Within and Without
(audio/mpeg, 9.48MB)

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