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Some background:

It is a mitzvah to destroy Amalek (Rambam mitzvah #188, Chinuch mitzvah 604).

The Chinuch seems to understand that this is both a mitzvah upon the Jewish people and upon every individual.

זאת המצוה מוטלת על הציבור כולן... ובאמת כי גם על כל יחיד ויחיד מישראל הזכרים... בכל מקום ובכל זמן

This mitzvah is incumbent upon the entire public... and in truth is also upon every male individual of Israel... in every place and at all times.

Without overcomplicating things, the Minchas Chinuch (based on his comments both ad loc and to mitzvah 425) seems to understand that it is a mitzvah to kill an Amalekite even in the face of danger and personal risk, even for an individual. (This is as opposed to some who understand that an individual is not required to perform the mitzvah in the face of danger, and only in the context of war, with the tzibbur, does the mitzvah override the danger.)

According to the Minchas Chinuch, why didn't Mordechai (as an example of someone who seemed to be interested in keeping mitzvos with mesiras nefesh in Shushan) kill, or at least attempt to kill, Haman, a known* and available Amalekite?

  • See Targum Sheni to Esther 3:1, and Maseches Megillah 13a
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    Does 'in the face of danger' include certain Pikuach Nefesh? – Double AA Mar 9 '17 at 4:47
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    What about when he bought him as a slave? Haman was pretty powerless then – Shokhet Mar 9 '17 at 13:18
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    What makes you think it was within his power to kill Haman? According to the Chinuch, perhaps he indeed would have killed Haman if the opportunity had presented itself. The question is based on an assumption which is pure speculation - there's no way to know what the logistics and exact circumstances were regarding Haman's security and the feasibility of an assassination attempt. – Jay Mar 9 '17 at 23:16
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    Again, what makes you think he could have reached Haman before being killed? Haman very possibly traveled with a security detail whose sole job was to protect him from such attacks. – Jay Mar 10 '17 at 15:30
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    @Jay If you assume that the reason was because Haman was surrounded by security detail etc. then bring a source for that. The poster has a right to ask whether anyone has a reliable reason (with a source) for Mordechai not killing Haman. Any question can be knocked down with "maybe this or maybe that", but the poster wants an answer with a source. – RibbisRabbiAndMore Jun 21 '18 at 13:27
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I would connect that to Rambam's beginning of Melachim:

שָׁלֹשׁ מִצְוֹת נִצְטַוּוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל בִּשְׁעַת כְּנִיסָתָן לָאָרֶץ:
לְמַנּוֹת לָהֶם מֶלֶךְ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים יז טו) "שׂוֹם תָּשִׂים עָלֶיךָ מֶלֶךְ".
וּלְהַכְרִית זַרְעוֹ שֶׁל עֲמָלֵק שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים כה יט) "תִּמְחֶה אֶת זֵכֶר עֲמָלֵק".
וְלִבְנוֹת בֵּית הַבְּחִירָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים יב ה) "לְשִׁכְנוֹ תִדְרְשׁוּ וּבָאתָ שָּׁמָּה":

And further:

מִנּוּי מֶלֶךְ קוֹדֵם לְמִלְחֶמֶת עֲמָלֵק.
שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמואל א טו א) "אֹתִי שָׁלַח ה' לִמְשָׁחֳךָ לְמֶלֶךְ" (שמואל א טו ג) "עַתָּה לֵךְ וְהִכִּיתָה אֶת עֲמָלֵק".

According to this causation, the extermination of the Amalekites is only possible when there's a Jewish King.. It could be speculated why, but this is a different question.

  • I don't think that the Minchas Chinuch upon which my question is based (or the Sefer HaChinuch, for that matter) would agree with this - they would either disagree with this formulation of the Rambam, or understand that this was specific to the original arrival of the Jewish people in Israel. But Sefer HaChinuch says בכל זמן ובכל מקום, and Minchas Chinuch says it is a mitzvah upon individuals, which would seem to imply independence from having a monarch. – Y     e     z Mar 21 at 1:31
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The king condemned Haman to hang and had taken jurisdiction over him. As a result, Mordechai was not able to kill him personally (as Shmuel killed Agag). The Bnai Yisrael were only able to kill those who attacked them, as the king decreed. Once Haman had been arrested and thrown into jail for hanging, there was nothing further that Mordechai and Esther could (or needed to) do, aside from ensuring that the King's decree was carried out.

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    I think the OP was wondering why he didn't just kill Haman earlier on, but the question was admittedly unclear. – Double AA Mar 9 '17 at 13:52
  • @DoubleAA Before then killing Haman would not have saved B'nai Yisrael – sabbahillel Mar 9 '17 at 19:22
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    @sabbahillel My question had nothing to do with saving B'nai Yisrael. As stated, the question is about the mitzvah to kill Amalek, which is completely independent of any salvation of B'nai Yisrael. – Y     e     z Mar 9 '17 at 19:25
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    @DoubleAA I think my question leaves no reason to interpret it in the way this post did. I asked why he didn't perform a mitzvah, which I sourced as applying at all times and all places. I don't know who would therefore assume I was only talking about a certain time and place in the story. – Y     e     z Mar 9 '17 at 19:26

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