At the end of this week's parsha, we learn of the attack of Amalek on the Jewish people in the desert. There are two mitzvos associated with Amalek. In parshas Ki Saytzai the Torah writes "זכר את אשר עשה לך עמלק בדרך בצאתכם ממצרים". We learn from here that there is a positive commandment to remember that which Amalek had done to us upon leaving Mitzrayim. Here the torah also commands us "תמחה את זכר עמלק" - to wipe out any existence of Amalek. It is unclear from the torah whether the mitzvah of "remembering that which Amalek did to us" is a prerequisite to fulfilling the mitzvah of "wiping out any existence of Amalek", or if they are mutually exclusive. In other words is there a mitzvah to remember even if it will not lead to the annihilation of Amalek.
The Rambam (Sefer Hamitzvos asay 189), discusses the mitzvah of "Remembering that which Amalek did to us". He writes that we must awaken our souls with these words of remembrance, to wage war against Amalek. The Rambam concludes his explanation of this mitzvah by quoting the incident when Shmuel Hanavi commanded Shaul Hamalech to wage war against Amalek in order to fulfill the commandment of "Timcheh ais zaicher Amalek". Prior to doing so, Shmuel Hanavi first recalled all the bad that Amalek had visited on the Jewish people upon leaving Mitzrayim. It is evident that the Rambam is of the opinion that the mitzvah of "Remembering that which Amalek did to us" is a perquisite in the fulfilling of the mitzvah of wiping them out.
Another Rishon as well, the Sefer Hachinuch, (mitzvah 603) writes that the mitzvah of "Zachor" - remembering, is only applied to men and not to women. He explains the reason for the exclusion of women in this mitzvah is that, war pertains to men and not women. By using the "War against Amalek" as means to exclude women from the mitzvah of "Zachor" the Chinuch is also connecting the two mitzvos. We must infer from his reasoning that he too is of the opinion that the mitzvah of "Zachor" is a means of fulfilling the mitzvah of "Timcheh".
The Minchas Chinuch (a sefer written by an acharon which comments on the Sefer Hachinuch) is bothered by the ruling of the Sefer Hachinuch. Among many questions, he asks: Who told anyone what the reasons for the mitzvos of Hashem are? We don't know whether the reason for the mitzvah of "Zachor" is in order to bring us to wage war against Amalek, or if it is for some other reason. In which case, even after all of Amalek is completely annihilated perhaps there will still be a mitzvah of "Zachor" to remember that which Amalek did to us. Similarly, women should be obligated in the mitzvah of "Zachor" even if they are exempt from the mitzvah of "Timcheh".
The way we fulfill our obligation in the mitzvah of "Zachor" is by reading the parsha of "Zachor" on the shabbos preceding Purim. One can also fulfill this obligation with the reading of parshas "Zachor" found in parshas כי תצא, when it is regularly read. The Magen Avraham (Shulchan Aruch O.C. 685) says that one may also fulfill his obligation of reading parshas Zachor with the story in this week's parsha -Bishalach,which is known as parshas "ויבא עמלק". The Mishna Brurah (685.16) argues with the Magen Avraham, and paskins that one may not fulfill the obligation of reading parshas Zachor by reading " ויבא עמלק". In explaining his opposition, the Mishna Brurah cites a Ramban from his commentary to divarim 25:17 that says: "We must tell to our children and future generations what the bad people (Amalek) did to us and as a result we were commanded to wipe them out". The Mishna Birrurah concludes, due to the fact that the parsha of "ויבא עמלק" contains no mention of the war against Amalek, one cannot use it to fulfill his obligation of reading parshas Zachor.
It would seem that the machlokes (dispute) between the Magen Avraham and the Mishna Birrurah is dependent on the discussion above. The Magen Avraham is of the opinion that the mitzvah of Zachor is exclusive to the mitzvah of Micheyas Amalek. He holds that there is a mitzvah to remember that which Amalek did to us even if it will not lead to the annihilation of Amalek. That is why he is not bothered by the fact that there is no mention of the war in "ויבא עמלק". The Mishnah Brurah on the other hand is of the opinion that the mitzvah of Zachor is a prerequisite in fulfilling the mitzvah of Micheyas Amalek. Therefore he rejects fulfilling one's obligation of reading parshas Zachor by means of any parsha lacking mention of war, or Micheyas Amalek.
It should be mentioned that the Chasam Sofer (ש''ות Even HaEzer 119), holds that the mitzvah of hearing parshas Zachor is applicable not once a year, but rather once every 12 months. Therefore, he says that in a leap year, (as this year is), one should have in mind to fulfill his obligation with either parshas כי תצא, or this week's parsha – Bishalach, with the reading of "ויבא עמלק" (in accordance with the Magen Avraham).
Posted By KH to KollelH blog at 1/14/2011 12:41:00 AM