Hashem Incomplete? by Amos Schorr


In Parashat BeShalach, the Torah states, “VaYomer Ki Yad Al Keis Kah Milchamah LaShem BaAmaleik MiDor Dor,” “And he (Moshe) said, ‘For the hand is on the throne of G-d; Hashem maintains a war against Amaleik from generation to generation” (Shemot 17:16).  If one looks at the wording of the Pasuk carefully, he will find that the word that means throne is shortened.  The word normally is Kisei, but in this Pasuk it is written Keis.  In addition, the short version of Hashem’s name, Kah, is used, rather than the standard Yud Kei Vav Kei.  Why is the Torah shortening words?

Ramban and Rabbeinu Bachya suggest that the throne this Pasuk references is not that of Hashem, but rather that of Israel and its kings.  As long as a Jew rules Israel, he must carry on the war against Amaleik.  That is why, when Shaul did not kill Agag (an Amaleiki), he was stripped of the throne.  There is a problem with this answer.  If Keis is a reference to Jewish kings, why is Hashem’s name shortened? 

Rashi offers a different solution.  He says that the Pasuk means that Moshe declared that Hashem had sworn to fight Amaleik forever by figuratively putting His hand on His throne.  When saying this, Moshe used an abbreviated form of throne and Hashem’s name to show that Hashem’s name and throne are diminished, so to speak, by Amaleik’s existence.

How is this possible?  Nothing can diminish Hashem’s name or His throne.  Perhaps Rashi means that the fact that Amaleik still exists and is threatening the welfare of Am Yisrael decreases the world’s perception of Hashem.  If a nation is attacking Am Yisrael, killing them, and getting away with it, that means that it appears (heaven forefend) there is no Hashem, or that He is weak and unable to protect His chosen nation.  Also, Am Yisrael won’t have as much faith in Him.  That is why Hashem’s name is shortened.  The reason why Kisei is shortened is because the throne of Hashem will be diminished - not in a spiritual way, like Hashem’s name, but physically.  If other nations think that Hashem is weak or nonexistent, they will attack Am Yisrael mercilessly.  The purpose of the ten Makkot was to demonstrate that the exact opposite is true – Hashem is quite capable of taking care of His people.

If so, why didn’t Hashem kill Amaleik by Himself?  If they diminish Am Yisrael so much, they should be eliminated in as decisive a way as possible.  The answer is very simple.  Had Hashem eliminated Amaleik, everything would have been glorious.  All of the nations would have heard about the decisive victory and avoided war.  If that happened, Bnei Yisrael never would have had a chance to doubt Hashem.

But why is that a problem?  The answer is that without doubt, there is nothing.  Am Yisrael needed to have trust in Hashem.  If there is definite, incontrovertible proof of Hashem, there would be no free choice.  Some would say that Am Yisrael already had proof: the Makkot.  But this is not true.  The reason they were chosen is that Avraham Avinu figured it out.  He discovered, without concrete evidence, that there was one God, Hashem.  He took great risks in following Hashem and was duly rewarded for it.  Am Yisrael needed that.  They needed to take great risks to be rewarded.  They needed to earn entry into Eretz Yisrael.  They needed to show Hashem that they had trust.

This illustrates an important lesson. If someone is not sure about what he is doing or does not think he will be able to get the job done, he probably won’t get it done.  Mentality is important, and if a person does not have confidence in himself, he will not be able to accomplish much.  If Am Yisrael’s perception of Hashem is lowered because He did not destroy Amaleik outright, they do not deserve Eretz Yisrael, because they do not have sufficient trust in Hashem.

That is why the Pasuk shortened the two words.  Hashem wanted to teach that faith in Hashem can accomplish many things.  And if one does not believe in Hashem, he will receive nothing.  That is the important lesson contained in the three missing letters.

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