Friday, November 20, 2009

Toldos - Accepting gerim from Amalek

There is a question if we are allowed to accept gerim from Esav and Amalek. The possuk says (דברים כג ח)
לא תתעב אדומי כי אחיך הוא
You should not abhor an Edomi because he is your brother.

The poskim discuss whether we are allowed to accept gerim from Amalek. This appears to be a contradiction between the mechilta and the gemara.

In the first perek of Shmuel Beis the pessukim relate that a soldier came and told Dovid that Shaul had asked him to kill him as he was mortally ill and did not want the Pelishtim to catch and torture him. Dovid killed the soldier for his actions:
יג וַיֹּאמֶר דָּוִד אֶל-הַנַּעַר הַמַּגִּיד לוֹ אֵי מִזֶּה אָתָּה וַיֹּאמֶר בֶּן-אִישׁ גֵּר עֲמָלֵקִי אָנֹכִי. יד וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלָיו דָּוִד אֵיךְ לֹא יָרֵאתָ לִשְׁלֹחַ יָדְךָ לְשַׁחֵת אֶת-מְשִׁיחַ ה'. טו וַיִּקְרָא דָוִד לְאַחַד מֵהַנְּעָרִים וַיֹּאמֶר גַּשׁ פְּגַע-בּוֹ וַיַּכֵּהוּ וַיָּמֹת. טז וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלָיו דָּוִד דָּמְךָ עַל-רֹאשֶׁךָ כִּי פִיךָ עָנָה בְךָ לֵאמֹר אָנֹכִי מֹתַתִּי אֶת-מְשִׁיחַ ה'.

“Dovid said to the soldier who had told him [that he had killed Shaul],
‘Where do you come from?’
He said, ‘I am the son of a ger from Amalek.’
Dovid said to him, ‘How were you not afraid to send your hand and destroy [Shaul who was] annointed by Hashem?’
Dovid called to one of the boys and he said, ‘Draw close and strike him.’
He struck him and he died. Dovid said to him, ‘Your blood is on your head because your mouth testified against you saying, “I killed the annointed of Hashem.’”

Why did Dovid kill the soldier? Shaul asked the soldier to kill him?

The Mechilta explains (מכילתא דרבי ישמעאל בשלח):
ויאמר דוד אל הנער המגיד לו אי מזה אתה ויאמר בן איש גר עמלקי אנכי, נזכר דוד באותה שעה מה שנאמר למשה רבינו אם יבא אחד מכל האומות שבעולם להתגייר שיקבלוהו ומביתו של עמלק שלא יקבלוהו

“Dovid said to the soldier who had told him [that he had killed Shaul],
‘Where do you come from?’
He said, ‘I am the son of a ger from Amalek.’
Dovid remembered at that time that which was said to Moshe; “If anyone of the nations of the world should come to be a ger they should accept him however from the house of Amalek they should not accept him.”

It seems from the Mechilta that the reason that Dovid killed the soldier is that his father’s gerus was not valid and therefore the soldier was from Amalek and not Jewish.

The gemara in Sanhedrin, however, says (דף צו עמוד ב):
מבני בניו של המן למדו תורה בבני ברק
Haman’s descendants learnt Torah in Benei Beraq.

We see from this that the descendants of Haman were accepted as gerim.

The Chidah says this is a machlokes between the Bavli and the Mechilta.

The Emek Beracha says that there is no machlokes. He points out that the Mechilta contradicts the pessukim in Shmuel Beis.

Dovid said to the soldier:
אֵיךְ לֹא יָרֵאתָ לִשְׁלֹחַ יָדְךָ לְשַׁחֵת אֶת-מְשִׁיחַ ה'

Why were you not afraid to send your hand against the annointed of Hashem?

Also we find later in Shmuel beis (perek 4) that רֵכָב and בַעֲנָה killed Shaul’s son and brought his head to Dovid. Dovid said to them:

כִּי הַמַּגִּיד לִי לֵאמֹר הִנֵּה-מֵת שָׁאוּל וְהוּא-הָיָה כִמְבַשֵּׂר בְּעֵינָיו וָאֹחֲזָה בוֹ וָאֶהְרְגֵהוּ בְּצִקְלָג אֲשֶׁר לְתִתִּי-לוֹ בְּשֹׂרָה. יא אַף כִּי-אֲנָשִׁים רְשָׁעִים הָרְגוּ אֶת-אִישׁ-צַדִּיק בְּבֵיתוֹ עַל-מִשְׁכָּבוֹ וְעַתָּה הֲלוֹא אֲבַקֵּשׁ אֶת-דָּמוֹ מִיֶּדְכֶם

The one who told me saying “Shaul has died” and thought he was telling me good news, I took hold of and killed in Tziklog, which was my news to him. All the more so if reshaim killed a tzaddik in his house on his bed will I ask his blood from your hands.

It seems from these pessukim that Dovid killed the soldier because he was proud of killing Shaul and thought that he was bringing Dovid good news. How then can the Mechilta say that Dovid killed him because his father’s giyur was invalid?

The Emek Beracha (also see שו"ת חתם סופר חלק א (או"ח) סימן קצ ד"ה עוד כתבת ) explains that the gemara says in Avoda Zarah (י' ע"ב):
לא יהיה שריד לבית עשו - בעושה מעשה עשיו

There will be no remnant to the house of Esav – that refers to those who act like Esav.

The objection to accepting gerim from Amalek is that it is difficult for them to stop acting like Amalek and to change their midos to those of the Benei Yisroel.

Dovid saw that the soldier who was proud that he had killed Shaul still had the traits of Amalek. In that case the giyur of the father was invalid because he had not come to abandon the ways of Amalek.

The Mechilta agrees that you can accept gerim from Amalek if they really want to to teshuva and become like the Benei Yisroel, as the descendants of Haman did. However in a case where the intent of the gerus is disproven by the acts of the ger or his son, then the gerus is invalid.

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