In this week's parshas Zachor haftarah (Shmuel 1 15:1-3) we read that Shmuel Hanavi, relaying Hashem's wishes, commanded Shaul Hamelech to destroy everything and everyone among Amalek, including men, women, children, and livestock. Shaul Hamelech killed everyone among Amalek except for King Agag and the best of the livestock. In doing so he had not fulfilled that which was commanded of him; rather he did what was evil in the eyes of Hashem. Shmuel Hanavi then condemned Shaul for disobeying the word of Hashem, and informed him that Hashem has torn the kingship from upon him. Thereafter Shmuel Hanavi had the king of Amalek brought before him, and said, "Just as your sword made women childless, so shall your mother be childless among women." Shmuel Hanavi then proceeded to execute Agag.
Reb Moshe Shmuel Shapiro, zt"l, quotes the following question from the Brisker Rav: It seems from the statement that Shmuel Hanavi issued prior to executing Agag that he was killing him as a result of him being a murderer. Why did Shmuel Hanavi kill him only because he was a murderer, for was it not enough to kill him because he was an Amaleki – who we are commanded to kill regardless of whether they have murdered?
Reb Moshe Shmuel offers an answer to this question. There is a machlokes whether the mitzvah of zachor (remembering what Amalek did to us) is independent of any other mitzvah. Or is it a prerequisite to the mitzvah of timcheh (annihilate Amalek)? Note: In parshas Beshalach we discussed this question at length.)
The Rambam, in Sefer Hamitzvos (Mitzvos Assei 189), explains that the mitzvah of zachor is in place in order to awaken our souls to wage war against Amalek. Reb Moshe Shmuel suggests that just as the mitzvah of zachor is intended to bring about the mitzvah of timcheh, so too the mitzvah of timcheh should only be carried out through the mitzvah of zachor. With this we can understand that with his statement, Shmuel Hanavi was not inferring that he is killing Agag as a result of him being a murderer, but rather he was fulfilling the mitzvah of zachor by reminding himself of the evil that Agag had done. This enabled him to perform the mitzvah of timcheh.
I want to suggest another answer to the Brisker Rav's question.
The Rambam says in Hilchos Melachim (1:1-2) that there were three mitzvos that Bnei Yisrael were commanded to do upon entering Eretz Yisrael: 1) appoint a king; 2) destroy Amalek; 3) and build a Beis HaMikdash. The Rambam writes that appointing a king must precede the annihilation of Amalek. Later in Hilchos Melachim (5:1), he writes that a king must first wage milchamos mitzvah (mandatory wars) and then may engage in milchamos rishus (optional wars). Among the milchamos mitzvah is the war against Amalek. There are some who learn from this that in order to perform the mitzvah of mechiyas Amalek (erasing Amalek's name), there must be a king over Bnei Yisrael.
In the pisukim preceding the execution of Agag, Shmuel Hanavi says several times to Shaul Hamelech that from this day forth Hashem has rejected you as king, and has torn the kingship from you and given it to your fellow who is better than you. At that time Bnei Yisrael were without a king, for Shaul was no longer the king and Dovid was not yet appointed. With this we can understand why Shmuel Hanavi killed Agag only as a consequence for his being a murderer, as the Brisker Rav pointed out, and not because he was an Amaleki. As we said, in order to do the mitzvah of timcheh there must be a king over Bnei Yisrael. Since there was no king at that moment, Shmuel Hanavi could not kill Agag because he was an Amaleki; rather he had to kill him for other reasons.
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Posted By Dovi milstein to KollelH blog at 3/18/2011 04:59:00 PM