Who and Where is Amalek Today?

The Midrash relates: Cursed are the wicked. They occupy their time with ideas about how to destroy the Jews, with each one vying for the honor of having the best idea. Esav ridiculed Cain for killing Abel during Adam’s lifetime. If Cain wanted the whole world for himself, he should have realized that Adam was still alive and could have more children. Esav was not going to make that mistake. He would wait until Yitzchok’s death and then kill Yaakov. Later, it was Pharaoh’s turn to laugh at Esav. Didn’t Esav know that Yaakov could have children before Yitzchok died? Nothing would be gained by killing Yaakov if he had offspring that would survive him. Pharaoh thought himself smarter than Esav. He would kill every Jewish male at birth. Centuries later it was Pharaoh’s turn to be thought a fool, by Haman. Didn’t Pharaoh understand that even if one Jewish male remained he could father the nation anew? Haman’s plan was to kill them all!

The Midrash concludes by teaching that in the future, Gog and Magog will deride Haman. Didn’t Haman know that the Jews have a Father in Heaven Who will never let them be destroyed as long as they do His bidding? So they will first do battle with God by keeping the Jews from observing the Torah and mitzvot. This will enable them to destroy the Jews. But God’s response to this is clear: “I have many messengers whom I can send into battle. But the war against Gog and Magog I shall wage Myself. Their destruction shall be complete”  (Esther Rabbah 7:23.)

Today, though Amalek definitely and unfortunately exists, we cannot say with certainty who, or where, all of them are. However, there is a noteworthy exception. When Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany visited Jerusalem during his journey to the Holy Land almost all the religious leaders of Jerusalem came to the city gates to greet him. Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld (d.1932), the spiritual leader of Ashkenazic Jewry in Israel at that time, did not go. When asked about his refusal he answered that although the Kaiser himself was deserving of the honor bestowed upon him, “I have a tradition that Germany is Amalek.”

The Amalek Within
Our Sages teach that God says to the Jews, “If you do not remember Amalek, you will be sent back to the bondage of Egypt”  (Pesikta Rabati 12). This is exhibited frequently on a personal level. The modus operandi that Amalek has always used in attacking the Jews can be described in a word: Devious. He gets the international community embroiled in some sort of political or military conflict for example, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait or he gets Jews to engage in some worthy cause “civil rights”  all with one goal in mind: The annihilation of the Jews. Amalek has the same numerical value (240) as “safek”, doubt (B’nei Yissaschar, Purim). The Amalek that is omnipresent today are the questions and doubts that we have regarding our faith. This includes the uncertainties, confusion and troubles we face when we lack proper direction and advice. When we strengthen ourselves in true faith in God, we overpower the Amalek within.

Reb Noson writes that Amalek corresponds to burning lust, the strife between husband and wife, between a person and his community and the hatred directed against the true tzaddikim (Likutey Halakhot, Minchah 7:20).

An additional aspect of Amalek that is prevalent today: False leaders.
“The Torah writes, [Amalek] smote the hindmost among you” (Deuteronomy 25:18). Our Sages teach: “[Amalek] separates the tails and throws them high (Tanchuma, Ki Taytze 10). Reb Noson writes: “Amalek found a clever way to destroy the Jewish nation. ‘He takes the tails,’  people of little or no stature  and ‘throws them high’ makes them into Jewish leaders (Likutey Halakhot, Shabbat, 5:9). Thus, the Jewish people have been fooled into thinking that their leaders are men of stature when in reality many of them are ordinary people who lack the ability to guide. A nation without proper leaders is easily misled, and so many unsuspecting and misguided Jews end up living a life devoid of real Jewish meaning.

Yet another face of Amalek that plagues us today is forgetfulness (ibid., Aveidah u’Metzia 1:3). We forget God’s goodness, the countless times He’s helped us in many ways, large and small (ibid., Nachlot 4:12). This leads to our forgetting about God, the Torah and mitzvot, and even the Mashiach, who will bring
the Ultimate Redemption. Perhaps, since Amalek represents forgetfulness, we’re instructed to remember what he did. Even though we don’t know which individuals today are Amalekites, the mitzvah to remember the evil, ruthless and cruel behavior they personify, remains. This mitzvah is fulilled when we recite the passage in Deuteronomy 25, verses 17-19. This is done communally on the Sabbath preceding Purim. Some have a custom of saying these verses daily (see Sha’ar HaKavannot, Inyan Yotzer Or, p.119)

Ultimately, Amalek will be destroyed. He will be set upon by thieves who will leave him penniless (Tana d’Bei Eliyahu Raba 24) Then God Himself will battle Amalek, exposing him for the sinner that he is before removing him from the face of the earth (Tana d’Bei Eliyahu Zuta 19). May this take place quickly, in our lifetime, Amen.

Author: Yossi Katz

Yossi Katz currently lives in Lakewood, NJ where he runs the BRI American Office. He studied in Beth Medrash Gevoha, as well as the former Breslov Kollel of Lakewood headed by Rabbi Shlomo Goldman.

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20 Comments

  1. I’m not Jewish but I found this article very helpful in my quest to learn more about the Bible and understand the events and the people of that time. I alwsys heard about the Amalekites but didn’t understand who they were… Thank you for the explanation! And I do agree if we don’t strengthen our faith in God everyday then we provide an entry way for the Amalekite mindset to enter and take over… And unfortunately it seems like the Amalekite mindset has already taken over in the minds of millions and dare I even say billions of People on the earth

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  2. I am also not jewish, but I have always been under the impression the German was decended from the assyrian, in fact most historians who followed the Assyrian migration say the same, they ended up in Germany.

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  3. I am not Jewish but I find this extremely interesting. Thank you

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  4. I am a Christian and a proponent of Israel. You are right. We need to remember God’s faithfulness. Nehemiah and many others reminded Israel of God’s faithfulness and words. God is worthy of our love and respect!

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  5. Thank you! I will reading more of your commentaries and teachings. I am a Christian and a fervent student of the Bible. I have a heart for Israel and the Jewish faith. It is my history. We have to know the past, and understand there is present danger for those who do not have true faith in God.

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  6. WoW!!

    This is a Courageous text!! I absolutely agree with what is being proposed- that “misleading Jews” form proper observance of Mitzvot, and the Torah Lifestyle as a necessity is one of the most effective ways to wage war against Hashem and the Covenant! I also very regrettably must agree that self-anointed “leaders” and corrupt leadership well serve the cause of Amalek, the destruction of True Holiness, and the feilment of Torah, Haggadah. Aggadah, and the 613 MItzvot. Amalek has a supreme hold in this world, and the ability to perceive, with unfortunately bitterness, the corruption that seems to have taken hold, is profoundly agonizing.

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  7. is very clear that the germans are amalekites.

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  8. The title of the article is very misleading. I was interested in reading a academic article on the Amalek tribe’s history and possible ancestors today, backed with evidence. Instead, all there is in here is ranting and someone’s interpretation of scripture. Anyone who is concerned with actually learning about the historicity of the Amalekite tribe should look elsewhere.

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    • Hi Sage, I would disagree. It clearly explains that Germany was considered to be Amalek but then also explains what is written in the Oral Torah – something we believe to be as authentic as Scripture – that there is a spiritual Amalek alive and well in everyone of us. No one claimed this to be an academic article, I would say most of the articles on this website focus more on spiritual growth.

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  9. What rubbish. There is historically no link between Amalekites and Germans. This article is nothing but hate speech not only against the Germans but also the English (Saxons), French ( Franks) and the Dutch (Friesians)

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    • Fred:
      Here are some further references:
      The Talmud Megilah 6B Iincluded a reference to GermaMia of Edom, which Rashi tells us is the name of a Kingdom that descends from Edom and these people, if unified, would destroy the world.
      The famous commentator Sifsei Chochomim (1641–1718) identifies Germamia with Germania or Germany. So we have Talmudical references as well as an oral tradition.
      How you explain this according to the fact that Germany descends from Assyria is difficult but here is the history from Aish.com:

      “Sennacherib, the King of Assyria, circa 500 BCE, mixed up all the nations (Talmud – Brachot 28a). When he conquered a country, he would take a large segment of the population and send them to other countries. This caused confusion among the population so they would never be able to muster enough strength to cause a rebellion. In this way, Sennacherib was able to retain control. Many of these peoples intermarried with each other and their old nationalities became mixed together. Amalek also was mixed in at this time. This means the identification of a particular individual or group, as Amalek by the means of genealogy is absolutely impossible.”

      So it seems as if some of Germany and perhaps key people who were running the country and a sizable pocket of the population descended from Amalek. But more importantly and relevant is that they carried the spiritually destructive characteristics of Germany.

      Here is another interesting story:
      Julius Streicher’s last words were “Purim fest 1946,” according to Newsweek. Because he committed suicide, only 10 Nazis were hung the next day. On Purim, the 10 sons of Haman (descendent of Amalek) were hung. In the Megillah where the story is written, while recounting the hanging, the letters Tuv, Shin and Ayin are written smaller. These add up to the exact numerical value of 5707 which is the year on the Jewish calendar that these Nazis were hung in.

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  10. Thanks for the article. As a Christian who is delving into the Hebraic side of my faith, Amaleq keeps popping up in unexpected places; hence I have arrived at your door. The one thing I’m becoming more convinced of, is Amaleq is definitely going to be involved in the end of days. Particularly, from my perspective, in relation to Revelation. The Beast almost has to be Amaleq, because that follows the pattern laid out in Torah. There is also Do’eg the Edomi, who killed all but one of the priests in 1Samuel and Herod (Idumea), who killed all the children under 2 years old in Bethlehem from the Christian gospel. The spirit of Amaleq was for certain in Nazi Germany and I would be greatly surprised if Himmler was not of Edomic descent. That same spirit is alive and, sadly, well today, particularly in the nations surrounding Israel, who, for some reason known only to HaShem, actually take on the manifestations of both Amaleq AND Philistia. There is a light at the end, in the arrival of Messiah, who will put an end to Amaleq, once and for all. Again, thanks for the article. May HaShem pour blessings upon you and yours and may Israel abide. Shalom.

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  11. I think this article is very insightful. My only question was
    how Jewish support of civil rights could be seen as a
    devious means of harming the Jewish people. If anything,
    I would think that championing the right of African Americans to be freed of abuse and prejudice in the
    1960′s could be considered a kiddush H-Shem, and
    that those who oppressed them with slavery and
    other forms of oppression could be seen as having
    a part of Amalek in them. Today, of course, I think
    “civil rights” can be misused for any of a number of
    “causes”, but in the 1950′s-60′s, I would think it
    expressed a powerful spiritual belief in the tzelem
    Elo-im of all G_D’s children. Am I missing something?
    Aside from this question, as I said, I really got alot
    out of the article….Gary

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  12. Why did so many Jewish people chose to live around Germans, to also adopt and adapt their language as Yiddish?

    It seems that Amalek is simply the Jewish description for neighbors you don’t get on with and want to kill off. Gentiles in America next presumably? Today it’s Arabs? 70 years ago Germans and Poles? Woe to those who live next to the tend of Jacob.

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    • “Why did so many Jewish people chose to live around Germans, to also adopt and adapt their language as Yiddish?”

      I don’t think that it was obvious at the time. Certainly most Jews didn’t see the Germans this way before the Nazis. Also, Jews very often had little choice of where to live, they would wander from one place to another and live wherever they could.

      “It seems that Amalek is simply the Jewish description for neighbors you don’t get on with and want to kill off. Gentiles in America next presumably? Today it’s Arabs? 70 years ago Germans and Poles? Woe to those who live next to the tend of Jacob.”

      I don’t understand the logical connection between the Germans and the Arabs. According to your logic the Jews are today killing the Arabs but the Jews were the ones who were killed by the Germans and Poles and not vice versa.

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  13. ohh come on, the Amalekites and the germans are to complete different races, one is from the middle east and other is Nordic, not every race who hate jews is amalekit please

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    • The point of your arguments was already dealt with in the reply to Fred.

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  14. As a Christian, I am trying to understand the significance of Amalek and the Amalekites. Your article was so timely, perfectly written and very useful! Thank you very much!

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  15. Your insight of Phararoh, Esav, and ‘cursed’ Haman is most intriguing. I never thought of them comparatively. Rabbi Sonnenfeld was a patriot to his people. I pray for the peace of Yerushalem. Your G-d is my G-d.

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