This may be two questions that are closely related.

Would engaging in war with 'Amalek without a specific command (a la Shaul) be a Milhemeth Mitzvah or Milhemeth Reshuth?

Is killing all of 'Amalek (as opposed to assimilating them, perhaps) a Mitzvah, or a Reshuth? If you had a choice, is total physical annihilation preferred over peacefully (or even forcefully) converting them all?

  • Isn't that 3 questions?
    – Double AA
    Jul 17, 2012 at 4:59
  • 1
    +1. But re "engaging in war with 'Amalek without a specific command (a la Shaul)", see Sh'muel 15:3.
    – msh210
    Jul 17, 2012 at 6:10
  • The third is a rephrasing of the second.
    – Seth J
    Jul 17, 2012 at 12:12
  • Why wouldn't killing all of Amalek be a Milchemet Mitzvah?
    – Daniel
    May 8, 2013 at 19:12
  • @Daniel, the Mitzvah is the "erase their memory". Does that mean by war? Individual 'Amalekim are allowed to convert; why not the entire nation? See msh210's answer.
    – Seth J
    May 8, 2013 at 19:47

1 Answer 1


Minchas Chinuch 527 writes that the rules of any milchemes mitzva apply to Amalek: whether that means you allow them make peace before annihilating them is, he says, a machlokes rishonim.

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