Rabbi Yaakov Haber
Rabbi Yaakov Haber

Amaleik, Kaddish, and the Unity of G-d's Name

" Ki yad 'al keis kah milchama laShem ba'Amaleik midor dor," "for a Hand is raised on the throne of G-d - an eternal battle of G-d with ' Amaleik from generation to generation." With these concluding words of our parasha, Hashem declares an eternal war with 'Amaleik and all the Evil that this nation, along with its physical and spiritual successors, represents throughout the millennia. Rashi, quoting from the Midrash, comments on the usage of incomplete words in this passage. Instead of the more frequent four-letter ineffable name of G-d, the two-letter name "K-H" is used. Instead of the word "KiSAi" for throne, the abbreviated form "KaiS" is employed. This teaches that neither the throne of G-d nor His name are complete until the destruction of 'Amaleik is achieved. The prophet Zecharia (14:9) underscores this concept with the famous statement, " bayom hahu yih'ye Hashem Echad u'Shmo Echad," "on that day, the day of the redemption, when all the forces of evil are eradicated, G-d will be One and His Name One." (See Avudraham in his commentary to Kaddish for a fascinating further allusion to this concept.)

The theme of Hashem's name becoming One is highlighted not only in the 'Aleinu prayer recited three times a day which concludes with the above passage from Zecharia but appears as well in the Kaddish prayer recited so often as part of Jewish liturgy. Tosfos ( B'rachot 3a, s.v. " v'onin") quotes the Machzor Vitri in his explanation of the central response of kaddish: "Y'hei ShMEI rabba m'varach ...." The word "ShMEI," in his opinion, should be read as a composite word consisting of the two words "SheiM" and "K-H" or the name " Kah" of G-d. The meaning of the entire passage then is: "May the name K-H of G-d become enlarged (rabba) (and) be blessed." In other words, may it become the four-letter ineffable name of G-d. When 'Amaleik is destroyed, G-d's name grows great and becomes complete as indicated in the above-mentioned Rashi. Even Tosfos themselves who read "ShMEi" as merely the Aramaic equivalent of "ShMO," or His Name, would seemingly agree that Kaddish is a prayer for redemption and the destruction of Evil which is a part of that process. Avudraham and Tur note that the opening phrase of Kaddish, " Yisgadal v'Yiskadash," is a paraphrase of the passage in Yechezkel (38:23) dealing with the sanctification of Hashem's name occurring after victory over the forces of Gog u'Magog, an event to take place as part of the process of Redemption. The Sefardic nusach of Kaddish includes the passage of "v'yatzmach purkanei vikareiv m'shichei" - "may His salvation sprout forth, and may He hasten His mashiach," a clear reference to Ge'ula. Presumably, what the Ashkenazic rite assumes implicitly, the Sefardic rite makes explicit. Finally, the phrase " l'olam u'lolmei ' olmaya" - "forever and ever" is strikingly similar to the passage recited in k'dusha - " Yimloch Hashem l'olam 'Elokayich tzion ...," "may Hashem reign forever," another reference to Redemption. The Gemara in B'rachot (ibid.), on which the above-mentioned Tosfos comment, also ties in the response " yehei shmei rabba m'vorach" to Redemption.

Rav C. Y. Goldwicht zt"l, the founding Rosh HaYeshiva of Yeshivat Kerem B'Yavneh, offered a profound insight into the meaning of Hashem's name becoming complete after the eradication of ' Amaleik. The Talmud teaches us at the end of Masechta B'rachot that on good tidings, we praise G-d as " Hatov V'HaMeitiv," the Good One who bestows good; on evil news or events, we declare that Hashem is the "Dayan Emet," the True Judge, recognizing G- d's justice as ultimately fair and just even if it transcends our comprehension. However, in the future world of redemption, we will recite "Hatov V'HaMeitiv" on both good and evil events. Why should we not recite "Hatov V'HaMeitiv" even on evil tidings since the religious personality has confidence that all that G-d does in this world is ultimately for the Good? What the Gemara is informing us is that whereas it is axiomatic in prayer that we may only praise G-d's actions in the world in a manner in which we currently perceive them (see also Yoma 69b) and therefore in this World we may not recite " Hatov V'HaMeitiv" on evil events, in the World of Redemption, we will gain Divine insight into past history with all of its apparently awful, cruel, disastrous tragedies both individually and collectively and be able to see beneath the outer veneer and be able to comprehend Hashem's hidden merciful, just, and Good Hand throughout the centuries. This momentous event will be accompanied by the eradication of ' Amaleik, or those powers that represent Evil in this world. It is then, when Divine justice is enacted in full upon Evil, that those that embody concepts of Evil will cease to serve as a source of questioning Hashem's justice system, or, minimally, not comprehending it. As long as 'Amaleik exists, as long as Evil exists, however purposeful it is in the Divine grand scheme, the name or comprehension of G-d is incomplete, and when evil strikes we must be satisfied with a response of "Dayan Emet." G-d instructs us that this time of confusion and partial comprehension of His true beneficence will come to an end when His name will once again be complete and all events in the world will be recognized as being orchestrated by His always Good and Just Hand.

Rav Y. David shlita, Rosh HaYeshiva of Yeshivas Pachad Yitzchak, quoted another passage stressing this same idea. At the end of "Mizmor Shir Chanukas HaBayis L'Dovid" recited before "Baruch She'amar," the Psalmist declares, "l'ma'an y'zamercha chavod v'lo yidom, Hashem Elokai l'olam odeka" - "in order that my soul sing your praise forever and not be silent, Hashem, my G-d, I will praise you forever." When Aharon HaKohein suffers the terrible loss of his two sons, his response is to remain silent - "vayidom Aharon" (Sh'mini 10:3). He could not utter words of praise to G-d even while knowing fully that his sons' death was for just cause. We pray to Hashem for the "Chanukas HaBayis," the dedication of the Beit HaMikdash and the Redemption, the era when " v'lo yidom," we will not have to remain silent in the face of Divine Justice and will be able to offer words of praise to G-d, comprehending its true purpose. In the language of Yeshayahu HaNavi (12:1), "v'amarta bayom hahu: Od'cha Hashem ki 'anafta bi," "and you will state on that day (of Redemption), I will praise You, Hashem, (even for the times) when You were angry with me!"

Our prayers, as especially highlighted in 'Aleinu and in Kaddish, serve as powerful tools to bring about this anxiously awaited event. The aforementioned passage in B'rachot indicates that when a tzibbur answers Kaddish, Hashem is aroused, so to speak, to bring about the Redemption. Tosfos (B'rachot, ibid.) even suggest that the Kaddish is recited in Aramaic so that the angels should not comprehend it and try to hinder the Redemption by highlighting K'lal Yisrael style='font-style:normal'>'s shortcomings. As is often the case, recitation of fixed texts of prayers often tend to cause a loss of fervor and devotion in their recital. A deeper understanding of the themes of prayer is one of the proven methods of enhancing concentration during their recital. May our prayers for the eradication of 'Amaleik and the Redemption be answered speedily in our days!

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