One of Shas’ spiritual leaders recently compared Religious Zionist Jews to Amalek, the first people to attack the Israelites after their exodus from Egypt. In a sense, he is right.
When reading through the scripture, the Torah does not describe the nature of the people of Amalek in such great depth. Amalek’s evil is apparent based on the Torah’s commandment to remember the actions of Amalek (Deuteronomy 25:17-18.)
The medieval commentator Rashi in his explanation on the Torah, mentions that when the Israelites left Egypt, no nation considered attacking them. The nations of the world heard of the might of God and of the miraculous defeat of the Egyptians, and the nations feared the people of Israel. Amalek was also afraid, but was determined to fight Israel, even at the expense of being hurt. Rashi likens the situation to a boiling bath that no one is willing to touch. Some fool comes along and jumps into the bath to cool it down for everyone else, knowing that he will be burnt in the process.
Amalek was intent on battling Israel, and was willing to sacrifice its safety and wellbeing to achieve that goal. Even though Amalek realized that success was difficult, Amalek sacrificed to accomplish that goal.
The Religious Zionist community is similar to Amalek in this regard. We have very lofty goals which are difficult to accomplish, including fulfilling God’s commandment of settling the land of Israel, and uniting the people of Israel in the land. Sometimes, achieving these goals requires sacrifice. We are not willing to sit in our own, isolated communities practicing Judaism the same way it was practiced in the 2000 years of exile. We get our hands “dirty” by serving the country, the army and being involved in secular culture, even though there may be a spiritual “cost” involved. We follow in the path of Rav Kook and love our secular brethren, working with them side by side to settle the land and fulfill the words of the prophets. Our path may have risks, and like Amalek, we risk being “burnt” by leaving our safe study halls of Torah.
Although I’m not sure that this is what was meant by the comparison made earlier this week, but nevertheless, I’m proud to be a part of this dedicated, committed group of Religious Zionist warriors, willing to sacrifice to fulfill its goals.