Amalek and the "Unforgiveable Sin"


This is an article from Rabbi Pinchas Winston, an Orthodox Jew and teacher of the inner dimensions of the Torah. The concept brought up in this article concerns the idea of "separating" the divine presence of God in the world with us from that aspect of God that we are not at this time fully "connected" with. (i.e., His name is not yet "one" as it will be at some point - Zechariah 14:9).

The divine presence of God that is in this world is known by several names (all feminine) including; the Shekinah, the Holy Spirit (Ruach haKodesh), Malkut (Kingdom), "daughter" and "bride." When someone "sins against" this divine presence it is viewed as "separating" the bride from the King. There are numerous references to this type of sin as being "unforgiveable" including the New Testament where Yeshua speaks of "blasphemy against the Holy Spirit."

This sin is thus comparable to "receiving the mark of the beast" which is also deemed as "unforgiveable" (Revelation 14:9-11) Amalek is also equated with "Babylon" in that both are said to be judged and destoryed by God at the end of this age.

For a more complete understanding of the terms used in this article we recommend either our Revelation study on Yashanet, or any Orthodox teaching web site such as

Returning His Presence - Chapter 2 - Amalek: Antithesis

Rabbi Pinchas Winston


OF ALL THE NATIONS that ever attacked the Jewish people, the nation of Amalek was the only one against whom God actually declared war, a fight to the finish: He has said, “Because the hand is upon the Throne (Chof-Samech) of God (Yud-Heh) it is a war for God with Amalek in each generation” (Shemot 17:16).

Rashi explains why:

Why is “Throne” written Chof-Samech and not Chof-Samech-Aleph? And why is God’s Name divided in half? The Holy One, Blessed is He, swears that neither His Name nor His Throne will be whole until the name of Amalek is completely eradicated. (Rashi, Shemot 17:16)

Thus, we learn, Amalek represents something that is fundamentally antithetical to the reality of God in this world, to the dwelling of the Shechinah within Creation. At the same time, we are taught, the numerical value of his name in gematria is equal to the Hebrew word for doubt: suffek. Hence, his main weapon against the Shechinah, or at least man’s relationship to the Shechinah, is doubt. Doubt about what? About Hashgochah Pratit — Divine Providence. Is God involved in history, and if yes, how much, and what does He want? And, though many articulate a belief in direct Divine Providence, their lives do not necessarily reflect that belief. That’s Amalekian too. Kabbalistically, it is called “cutting off one’s plantings”, as mentioned in the Talmud:

The rabbis taught: Four entered Pardes: Ben Azzai, Ben Zoma, Acher, and Rebi Akiva. Rebi Akiva told them, “When you arrive at the Stones of Pure Marble, don’t say, ‘Water, water,’ because it says, ‘He who speaks falsehood will not be established before My eyes’ (Tehillim 101:7).” Ben Azzai gazed at the Divine Presence and died, and with respect to him it says, “Difficult in the eyes of God is the death of His pious ones” (Tehillim 116:15). Ben Zoma gazed and went mad; to him the following verse may be applied: “Have you found honey? Eat as much as is sufficient for you, so that you do not consume too much and have to vomit it” (Mishlei 25:16). Acher “cut off his plantings” (i.e., he became a heretic). Rebi Akiva entered in peace and departed in peace. (Chagigah 14b)

On a simple level, the expression means that Acher undid all the good that he had accomplished through Torah and mitzvot until that time. Heresy will do that. However, Kabbalistically, it means the following:

They say in Tikunim (Tikun 69, 135b) that the main version of the [expanded ] Four-Letter Name is the ten letters — Yud-Vav-Dalet, Heh-Aleph, Vav-Aleph-Vav, Heh-Aleph. It is her kingdom, because she (the Malchut) receives from all ten sefirot, since she is the “Final Heh” of the simple Hovayah (i.e., Yud-Heh-Vav-HEH) giving it four letters; in her is incorporated all four. Likewise, the Final Heh of the expanded Name brings the total to ten [letters], and all of them are included in her. Thus, the word “Echad” — One — of “Shema Yisroel”, which is spelled Aleph-Chet-Dalet, alludes to the nine sefirot (Aleph = 1, Chet = 8) of Zehr Anpin, and the Dalet corresponds to the Malchut which is built from [the FOUR sefirot of] Tifferet, Netzach, Hod, and Yesod of Zehr Anpin … (Sha’arei Leshem, p. 83)

Before going further, it is important to understand what has been said so far. The Ten Sefirot are always the system for passing light down from level to level, ultimately from Ain Sof to the furthest reaches of physical Creation. There may be countless systems and sub-systems of ten sefirot, but they always function in the same way: receive light from the system above, filter the light, pass it on to the level below it. This is how the will of God is implemented in every aspect of existence. And, since the Malchut is the last of the Ten Sefirot in any given system, it represents the completion of a particular system, and the culmination of all that occurred prior to its creation. This is alluded to in the last word of the “Shema” which is about God’s unity. The first two letters have a gematria of nine, an allusion to the first nine sefirot of Zehr Anpin, Keter through Yesod. The gematria of the Dalet is four, indicating that the Malchut is a the product of the light of the four sefirot of Zehr Anpin above her: Tifferet, Netzach, Hod, and Yesod. Hence, in the word “Echad” itself is the unified structure of Zehr Anpin with the Malchut, The Holy One, Blessed is He, with His Shechinah. And, it is a reminder, twice a day, of our mission to do exactly that in all that we do as a people.

[The Malchut] completes the four [letters of Hovayah] and they are echad — one. The kotz [the short line that extends upward from the roof] of the Dalet represents a Yud, to teach that she completes the ten. Aleph-Chet, DALET, they are one … and it is necessary to unify them always, to incorporate all of [the nine sefirot of Zehr Anpin] in the Malchut, for through her unification above and their incorporation in her, she guides the worlds of BY”A. (Ibid.)

That is, Beriyah, Yetzirah, and Asiyah, the three “worlds” below Atzilut that make up our everyday reality. The will of God is implemented in our world via the Malchut of Atzilut, which depends upon the light she receives from the Zehr Anpin of Atzilut, which only happens when they are unified.

Thus, we see, that through the intention of the unification [of the Zehr Anpin and Malchut of Atzilut] only God is king, and Hashem Hu HaElokim [is fulfilled].

This is the Kabbalistic definition of redemption. The sefirot are unified, the Divine light flows freely from above to below, and the world is filled with the knowledge of God. There is perfect harmony as has never been achieved before, or at least maintained. This is the reality of Yemot HaMoshiach.

The say further that anyone who takes the Malchut without the nine sefirot cuts off his plantings, and that anyone who takes the nine sefirot without the Malchut is a denier … (Ibid.)

Until such time that the world achieves the sublime state of harmonious existence alluded to by the word “Echad” in the Shema, mankind will continue to devise countless ways to serve God, if he even chooses to believe in Him and His Providence at all. If we are here to unify the Malchut with Atzilut in our minds and hearts, it must be possible to separate them, the separation of which must be responsible for the various different kinds of believes and religions. However, what does it mean to take the Malchut without the nine sefirot above it, or the opposite? And, why does committing the former sin result in the “cutting off of one’s plantings”, and the other in being labeled, “heretic”? Either way, it is the Amalekian way of life, what Amalek does and causes others to do as well, and the first line of defense is in recognizing what it looks like.

To take the Malchut without the upper nine sefirot means to do something for the sake of the Malchut only, without any intention for unification above. How much more so is this true when the intention is to specifically separate [the Malchut] from above, God forbid, for the sake of taking the power of Beriyah for oneself, in order to make use of the pleasures of this world according at will, to pursue the desires of one’s heart just as the Generation of the Dispersion did. It is likewise if someone makes use of Practical Kabbalah without intention for or knowledge of the Yechudei HaShemot — the unifications of the Name. Such people “cut off their plantings”, as it says, “And a complainer estranges a rule” (Mishlei 16:28) … Thus, when they say that someone who takes the Malchut without the nine sefirot cuts off his plantings, they mean that he does something for the sake of one of the revelations of God that are in this world, all of which emanate from the lights of the Malchut, for she is [called] “the God of all the land”, and through her everything is implemented. Therefore, when someone does something from that which comes through her without the intention of unification above, he cuts off his plantings. (Sha’arei Leshem, p. 84)

Practically-speaking, this approach to life can include, quite incredibly, everything from usurping God’s dominion over physical Creation, as the Generation of the Dispersion tried to do, to the learning of Torah and the performance of mitzvot without any intention to cause the unification of the Malchut with the nine sefirot above it. No wonder Chazal established the preamble, “I hereby do this mitzvah for the sake of unifying, etc.” It’s Torah without a true and proper relationship with God.
What does it mean to take the upper nine sefirot without the Malchut?

This refers to someone who does not believe, God forbid, that God alone made, makes, and continues to make all that exists. Or, he may believe that God created everything from nothing, but that God abandoned Creation after that and left history to Nature, or to chance, or to some other force other than His own from the worlds of BY”A themselves. This person thinks that anything that happens in Creation after God finished His work is purely the product of man, and that there is no possibility of connection to [God]. From his perspective, the point of Torah and mitzvot is just for the sake of refining man, but that it has no effect on the world above. Thus, he separates God from His Creation, R”L, and is a kofer b’ikar — a denier of the fundamental … For, the Ain Sof dwells in all of the ten sefirot and is unified with of them, and they are unified with each other, that is, Zehr Anpin with Malchut as a result of the unification with the Ain Sof that is within them … The main connection that God has to His worlds and what occurs in them is through the Malchut. (Ibid.)

Judging by the way many think today regarding Hashgochah Pratit, it seems that Amalek has been extremely successful at spreading his approach to life. And, it is no coincidence that his attack against the unity of God’s Name in the mind of the Jew is followed by the giving of Torah, for if Amalek is the disease, then Torah is the antidote:

The main rectification of the Malchut that causes it to unify with what is above it depends upon the keeping of Torah and its revelation below. The more that the light of Torah is revealed and it is fulfilled below, the more rectification occurs, and inner light [of the Malchut] Is revealed. (Ibid.)

Thus, whether a person “takes” the Malchut without the nine sefirot above it, or the nine sefirot above it without the Malchut, either way he has been at battle with Amalek, and lost. In the physical realm, the battleground may be his mind, while living some place on Planet Earth, but in the spiritual realm it is precisely where the Malchut joins with the nine sefirot of Zehr Anpin above it. And, that being so, we may be more responsible for the enemy and the damage he inflicts on mankind than the enemy himself. In this case, “Know thine enemy” might really mean: Know thine self.