Prologue: Put it in the books.
No, that isn’t a reference to a final call to a NY Mets game (Howie Rose) – it is a promise of Hashem to Moshe for future generations that He will enlist to join us in our struggle against Amalek. In fact, Hashem promises that his throne will not be complete until Amalek is wiped out (See Rashi to 17:16 and compare to Rashi in Ovadiah 1:21). What is the connection between recalling the mitzvah to destroy Amalek and Hashem’s ruling over the world?
Rav Simcha Zissel Broide ztl (Sam Derech) notes that we can see Hashem’s dedication to the Jewish people from this lesson. Messing with his child is like messing with Hashem directly (See Sefer HaChinuch Mitzva 603). Accordingly, included in the Mitzva to remember Amalek is the recall of Ahavas Hashem to his children, and reciprocal responsibilities from us to Him as well.
Rav Simcha Zissel learned another lesson from here: That every single person makes a difference. For as long as a SINGLE Amalekite remains alive, His throne is not complete. One can be amazed at how a single person can impact a world to the point that when that impact is evil, Hashem does not rest. Can you imagine the same impact each one of us can have L’Tov (for Good?)
German Ger: Can We Accept Him?
A young German approached the High Court’s Beit Din L’Giyur and requested to be converted to Judaism. Under the regular rules of checking the young man’s sincerity, he passed with flying colors. However, when the case was presented to the Dayanim, one argued that according to the Mechilta (Parshas Beshalach Mesechta Amalek 2), Rabbi Eliezer declares that one may never accept a Ger from the descendants of Amalek. And, added the Dayan, we have a tradition from Rav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld that Germany is a Safek Amalek.
And hence the question: Are we allowed to accept Geirim from Germany?
The Talmud (Gittin 57b) notes that there were many Jewish enemies whose ultimate irony was that their grandchildren converted and became leaders in Torah scholarship and Jewish education. Rav Shmuel Bar Shilas is identified as one of Haman’s great-grandchildren (See Menoras HaMaor Ner 5, Klal 3, 2:3) <talk about tough Yichus>).
Many (See Manos HaLevi 117; Ein Zocher 3:1) have asked Rav Shmuel and his family became Jewish in the first place. After all, Haman came from Amalek. How were his children able to be converted?
Rav Yosef Engel (Gilyonei HaShas) explains that the great-grandchildren came from a daughter who intermarried with a different nation. As far as non-Jews are concerned, we follow patrilineal descent. Accordingly, Haman’s great- grandchildren would still be genetically linked to him but would be Halachically not Amalekim.
The author of the Emek HaBeracha offers a different approach. He suggests that the reasn we do not accept Geirim from Amalek is that accepting them would prevent us from fulfilling the Mitzva to wipe out Amalek. That mitzvah is a responsibility of Beth Din who would be giving it up when they accept the candidate for Giyur. (According to this approach, if one were to hide his/her Amalek roots until after the conversion, the conversion would be valid since, there is nothing inherently prohibited in the Geirus. Our German convert can do the same and have his conversion be valid.
The Chazon Ish (Yoreh Deah 157:5) suggests that the only prohibition of accepting Geirim from Amalek exists when they convert DURING WAR. ?However, Haman’s descendants converted AFTER the war was already over. The same would be said for a German conversion candidate. The war with Amalek is not currently ongoing and accepting the Ger should be mutar.
L”Halacha, Rav Wosner (Shut Shevet HaLevi V:149) adds another factor in favor of accepting the German convert. He cites the Talmudic understanding (Berachos 28a) that Sancherib mixed up all of the nations when he set about capturing most of the world. If that is the case, then we cannot state that anyone is certainly an Amalekite in the same way we cannot know who is an Ammonite or a Moabite. Accordingly, since we do not know, we need not screen nor hold back on accepting Geirim today.