Our Parshat HaShevua Ki Teitzei is being sponsored by Ari and Aliza Rosenstein and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh and dedicated Lilui Nishmas in memory of Aliza’s Mother, Anne Samson A’H: Rochel Rivka bat Mattityahu HaKohen whose Yahrtzeit is 11 Elul. To the Rosenstein family, many thanks for your sponsorship and continued kindnesses.
The various translations of our Pasha’s opening posuk seem puzzling.
As rendered in the Artscroll Stone Chumash:
“When you will go out to war against your enemies, and Hashem your G’d, will deliver them into your hand
…” (Sefer Devarim, Perek 21, posuk 10)
As rendered by Aharon Yaakov Greenberg in his sefer “Torah Gems”(Volume 3, page 269-270):
“When you go forth to war against your enemies, and the Lord your G’d will deliver them into your hands …”
As rendered by Rav Zelig Pliskin in his sefer, “Growth Through Torah” (pages 433-434):
“When you go out to war against your enemies, and The Almighty, your G’d, will give him into your hand
As rendered by Rav Dovid Feinstein in his sefer “Kol Dodi on the Torah” (page 278):
“When you go out to war against your enemies, and Hashem your G’d will give him into your hand…”
Since neither Artscroll Stone Chumash nor “Kol Dodi” appear to give explanation for singularity or plurality of him/them in the posuk, this author will rely on commentaries from “Growth Through Torah” and “Torah Gems.”
Rav Pliskin provides two commentaries relating to his rendering. The first commentary appears to be citing sefer “Biurai Hamekablim Beniglah” which, in turn seems to be citing The Ari (Rabbi Isaac Luria) z.l.:
The verse starts off in the singular (“When you will go out to war” — singular in Hebrew). “Your enemies” is plural. … Then the Torah reverts to the singular (“give him”). The point… is that if you have unity and are as one when you go out against your enemies, then even though your enemies are very numerous [ergo, the plural] you will be victorious as easily as if they were just one.
The importance of unity… applies not only during times of war against an enemy. It is necessary during times of peace.
In his second commentary, Rav Pliskin cites sefer “Chochmah Umussar (Volume 1, page 376) which cites Rabbi Simcha Zissel of Kelm on one’s yetzer hora:
The greatest enemy that anyone has is one’s evil inclination (yetzer hora) He constantly wants to ambush… and capture you. He acts as if he were your best friend, but his goal is really to destroy you. How does one wage war against one’s yetzer hora? One must use intellect to contradict his false arguments and to see the truth when he shows illusory images of one’s gain by following him. …”When you go out to war against your enemies, and Hashem your G’d will give him into your hand…” When one is resolved to overcome the yetzer hora, one will be victorious.
Aharon Yaakov Greenberg in his sefer “Torah Gems”(Volume 3, page 269-270) reinforces Rav Pliskin’s commentary on one’s greatest enemy — yetzer hora in citings from the Ba’al Shem Tov and the Kotzker Rebbe.
On the posuk: “When you go forth to war against your enemies, and the Lord your G’d will deliver them into your hands, and you will take them captive.” (Sefer Devarim, Perek 21, posuk 10 — the complete posuk), the Ba’al Shem Tov Comments:
The Torah states “When you go forth” in the singular. Every individual Jew has no greater enemy than his yetzer hora. If one goes to war against it, “the Lord G’d will deliver them into your hands…” — the Torah promises that that one will emerge victorious, Not only that, but you will take it captive,” so that one will be able to harness the yetzer hora to serve Hashem.
“And you will take them captive” using their weapons. In the battle with the yetzer hora, learn from its tactics, the techniques it uses to snare people. One must use the same alacrity, the same vigor and the same obstinancy it uses against us.
The Kotzker Rebbe notes:
When you attack the enemy in his land, “When you go forth to war against your enemies,” you have a much better chance of succeeding, but if the enemy attacks you and you have to defend yourself, you need Hashem’s mercy in order to win. The same is true in the battle against the yetzer hora: if one has never allowed it entry in the first place, it is easy to win the battle against it. However, if the yetzer hora is already deeply rooted, and has to be repelled, it takes much greater effort.
These are great lessons to be intellectualized and learned in our generations where the yetzer hora has evolved, among many of our brethren — our political and governmental “leaders”, as well as the media, the universities, the intelligencia, into political correctness and subversive ideology.
The whole Oslo litany, debacle and it’s aftermath over the past 23 year are proofs in point of how far down the yetzer hora has taken us. These are all reflective of an immense, ongoing rap sheet of perversion, endangerment of national security and subversion of justice amongst the leftist governing elitist establishment in Israel — who never seem to let the facts and the truth regarding Eretz Yisrael’s kedusha and the security and well-being of nation stand in the way of their liberal, socialist “two state” ideology.
Regarding the leftists, this author wrote in a talk-back at this time a few years ago that the expulsion of Jews from Gush Katif was the litmus test for any future government-mandated land hand-overs. Remember how the Gaza Islamics trashed former Gush Katif Batei Knesset and how they burned and destroyed all of the dunams of growth and greenhouses handed them on a silver platter after the expulsion of our brethren from Jewish land eleven years ago, such that there is no agriculture in Gaza. And do we have such short memories that we forgot/forget, even today, the Islamic Kassam/Grad blitzkreig of two years ago? The Islamic blitzkreig of the Lebanon conflict? The Jewish blood which has flowed over the past 23 years, as exemplified by the pain of just these past two years of the ongoing Islamic Terrorism War on Us on OUR Land — the Talmudei Chachamim murdered in the Shul in Har Nof, the young teenage girl bludgeoned as she slept in her bed in Kiryat Arba, the overturned auto of the Rabbi who was murdered and the Rebbetzin seriously injured on a recent Erev Shabbos on a road in Har Hevron and more?
But then again, the left, the socialists, the politically correct politicians and governmental leaders — all victimized by their yetzer hora, never met a truth that they didn’t evade, avoid, or that they let stand in their way.
But if we all lived and were governed in accordance with the Torah, countered and were victorious over our yetzer hora in going off to war as a unity to be victorious, there would be not even thought of compromise of Jewish Land to anyone and the Obamanator, Kerry, the corrupt Clintons, “The Donald”, etc, etc, etc, would be like nothing, like mere dust before Hashem’s favored nation.
But IMHO, the current realities, such as they are, dictate that the voice of Am Yisrael, of a unified, righteous rov Jewish people take precedence over a government, media and secular institutions of yetzer hora leftist appicorsim (spelling).
Are we up to the task?? Do we go off, in unity, to a victorious war against our yetzer hora? WE HAVE TO!! Ein Breira! IY’H, With Hashem’s help and Strong Hand, the survival of Am Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael is in our hands. WE MUST PREVAIL!!
Are we like the Brothers when they took responsibility for Binyamin’s welfare, or are we collectively a bunch of phony apologists vanquished by our yetzer hora, who compromise central Jewish principle, i.e. benign attitude regarding Shabbos for whatever its reasons or rationale? Will we repeat the sins perpetrated by successive evil regimes, acquiescing to evil against our brethren, our fellow Jews yet again, and again and again?
In short, our Parsha emphasizes that the unity with which B’nai Yisrael is to go out to war against her enemies evolves from collective responsibility, kindness, caring and fairness for and with each other fellow Jew.
Our lives and our hopes for a good year and good things to come hang in the balance of the Cheshbon, if you will, between our Mitzvot (good deeds) and our Aveirot (sins or violations of Divine law). Once again, as 5777 approaches, it’s “Clutch time” and as that famous coach says, “Our Mitzvot aren’t everything, they’re the Only Thing.”
May we, the B’nei Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them at leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized gunpoint, that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard be liberated and truly free — only upon his return home to Israel, and that Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of two years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!
Moshe Burt is an Oleh, writer and commentator on news and events in Eretz Yisrael. He is the founder and director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network and lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh, Israel.