Our Cloud Mentality

August 28, 2020
ELUL 8, 5780
Candlelighting Time 7:18 PM

The nation of Amalek has been a thorn in our side since our very inception. It’s valuable to understand what their penetrating effect was in order to coherently counteract its very essence. Rashi cites the Midrash that they cut off the area of the circumcision and threw them upwards to Hashem declaring that “You chose this as Your distinctive mark on the nation, take it back”. What was the significance of that retort and how did they have the ability to intrude in to our ranks since we were cordoned off and protected by the clouds which enveloped us in the desert? Rashi next quotes from the Midrash that there were those who had sinned and were expelled from the secure cocoon of the clouds. They were easy prey for the Amalekites and therefore they cut off their circumcision area and with that act blasphemed Hashem! What was the sin of those expunged Jews? The initial battle against Amalek was caused by our lax attitude towards Torah study as Rashi explained in parshas Beshalach. Therein lies our Achilles heel and that allowed Amalek to attack us. The Clouds of Glory which prevented outside influences from invading our camp’s purity were predicated upon our close relationship with Hashem. When that was shattered, then we forfeited our protective dome and we were susceptible to the devices of Amalek.

            When we worshiped the Golden Calf we sacrificed our cloud cover and only through intense prayer by Moshe and our repentance did we again merit their return on Yom Kippur. At that point we received the mitzvah to build the Mishkan in order to maintain Hashem’s presence within our nation. We were all collectively enjoined by the clouds which enveloped our people in the desert and that connection to Hashem was further strengthened with the construction and functioning of the Mishkan which also served to centralize Hashem’s proximity in our nation.

            The mitzvah of bris milah, circumcision, serves to prepare us spiritually, enhancing our connection to our neshamah, soul, thereby facilitating our ability to ascend the ladder that will bring us closer to Hashem. The primary course of creating that proximity is through Torah study. Therefore, when the people weakened their intensity of Torah study, this enabled Amalek to penetrate our safety shield, the clouds that shielded us from outside  detriments, and they attacked us. Their battle cry was that Hashem gave us the mitzvah of  bris milah in order that we should access an enduring relationship with Him, however, since we abandoned that protocol, we distanced ourselves from Hashem.

            Amalek represents the power of Edom to its fullest extreme. Therefore, it was through their influence that lead to the eventual decline of  the nation and the final destruction of the Beis Hamikdash. Perhaps the lesson to be gleaned from our struggle with Amalek is the importance of maintaining our level of Torah study and surely to increase it would guarantee that we would not become lax.

         We no longer merit those clouds which encircled and protected our forefathers in the desert, however, Torah, the mainstay of our lives and the lifeline of the Jewish people not only during the times of the Beis Hamikdash but certainly in our long protracted exile and especially in our daily struggle as we attempt to live coherent and productive lives while staring the virus down and not losing our momentum to reestablish our lives the way they used to be.           


We are obligated to assist another with his donkey’s burden to make sure that it does not slip off. And this is an example for life in general, if we want to achieve we can’t just say that Hashem should give us what we need to excel, rather we need to work together and expend our energy attempting to serve Him properly.                                                                            CHOFETZ CHAIM