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Shabbos Parshas Behar-Bechukosai

The Address to the International Convention of N'shei uBnos Chabad

Shabbos Parshas Bamidbar

Shavuos & Shabbos Parshas Naso, 5750


Shabbos Parshas Behaalos'cha

To the Graduating Class of Bais Rivkah and the Girls who will be Serving as Counselors in Summer Camps

Shabbos Parshas Shelach

Shabbos Parshas Korach

Shabbos Parshas Chukas

Shabbos Parshas Balak


17th Day of Tammuz, 5750

Shabbos Parshas Pinchas

25th of Tammuz, 5750

Shabbos Parshas Matos-Masei

Shabbos Parshas Devarim, Shabbos Chazon

Shabbos Parshas Va'eschanan, Shabbos Nachamu

Shabbos Parshas Eikev

Tzivos Hashem, Day Camps

Shabbos Parshas Re'eh

Shabbos Parshas Shoftim

To the Campers of Emunah

Shabbos Parshas Ki Seitzei

   11th Day of Elul, 5750

Shabbos Parshas Ki Savo

N'shei uBnos Chabad

Shabbos Parshas Nitzavim-Vayeilech

The Blessing Delivered by the Rebbe Shlita upon Receiving the Pan Klali

Sichos In English
Volume 45

Shabbos Parshas Ki Seitzei
11th Day of Elul, 5750
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  7th Day of Elul, 5750Chai Elul, 5750  


This week's portion begins, "When you go out to war upon your enemies." Although the Torah is intended to be eternally relevant, on the surface, it is difficult to understand the lesson which can be derived from this portion which describes the conduct of the Jews in war (and in particular, a war which is not directly commanded by G-d, a milchemas reshus, which is not at all applicable in the present era).

The lesson we can learn from this portion involves the dimension of our service that is involved with material things and matters of this world, refining and elevating its physical substance, making it a vessel for holiness and thus, transforming the world into a dwelling for G-d.

This service is of a different nature than the service in the realm of holiness itself, the study of Torah and the fulfillment of mitzvos. The latter service is characterized by peace, drawing G-dliness into the world. No "enemy" is involved. In contrast, when one is involved in refining the world at large, then one must "go out to war upon your enemy." The nature of the material world opposes G-dliness and stands in contradiction to the establishment of a dwelling for Him. To create a dwelling for G-d, a place where His essence is revealed, within this world, it is necessary to "wage war" against this dimension of worldliness and conquer it.

The aspect of concealment within this world -- and its tendency to oppose the establishment of a dwelling for G-d -- was created by G-d, Himself. Thus, the power which opposes holiness does not stem from the world's material substance alone, but rather, from the nature with which it was endowed by G-d. Accordingly, it is understandable that a Jew must summon up very powerful energies to wage war against such power.

For this reason, the Torah uses the expression, "When you go out to war upon your enemy." A Jew "goes out to war," i.e., he must leave his own realm, the involvement with holy matters, and involve himself with material affairs.

When involved in this service, he must know that he has the potential to succeed. Therefore, he is told that he must wage war, "upon your enemies." Grammatically, it would have been proper to state "against you enemies," or "with your enemies." Nevertheless, the Torah used a somewhat awkward construction to teach us that, before the war begins, a Jew has to know that he stands above his enemies.

In microcosm, this conception of war is relevant within our own lives as well. A Jew possesses a G-dly soul and, on a lower level, an animal soul and a body. He must fight a war, the conflict with the yetzer hora, to overcome the natural drives of the body and the animal soul with the intent of conquering them and thus, preventing them from disturbing his service of G-d. Furthermore, ultimately, he should reach the point where he serves G-d, , interpreted by our Sages to mean, "with both your desires," i.e., the yetzer hora will also become transformed. The potential for this service stems from the fact that, in essence, a Jew is "above your enemies."

The Torah teaches us about two types of war: milchemas mitzvah -- wars which G-d commanded us to wage, e.g., the wars necessary to conquer Eretz Yisrael and annihilate the Canaanites who lived there previously, the war against Amalek, and a war to defend the Jewish people against attackers; and milchemas reshus -- those wars waged by a king "with other nations to extend the boundary of [Eretz] Yisrael] and magnify its greatness and reputation."

The war with the seven Canaanite nations -- and similarly, in the Messianic age, the war to conquer the lands of the ten nations -- has as its purpose, the conquest of their land and its transformation into Eretz Yisrael, the holy land. In contrast, a milchemas reshus is not a mitzvah and is intended merely to "extend the boundaries of Israel" in a place which, by nature, belongs to gentiles.

In the personal sphere, a milchemas mitzvah involves waging a war against the material dimensions of the world according to the Torah's commands with the intent of conquering them for Torah, making them like Eretz Yisrael. It involves, however, only those aspects of the world which are necessities for life. In contrast, a milchemas reshus involves "extending the boundaries" of holiness beyond our minimum necessities. A person goes beyond the limits of the minimum which Torah allows him and elevates other aspects of the world, transforming them into holiness.

To express this concept in regard to eating: Rather than eat bread and water, one eats succulent meats and drinks aged wines, but does so for the sake of holiness. Similarly, in regard to the world at large, a person goes beyond the limits of his own environment and seeks new areas to refine by establishing a synagogue, a house of study, or a place where mitzvos are performed.

A milchemas reshus does more than involve a wider sphere of activity than a milchemas mitzvah, it requires a different type and quality of service. To understand this concept, we must probe into the very nature of a milchemas reshus: On the surface, the concept of a milchemas reshus is problematic. In regard to a milchemas mitzvah, the reason the Jews go to war is because G-d commanded them to. He told them to conquer Eretz Yisrael and make it their land. Thus, what the Jews are taking rightfully belongs to them. Although -- as Rashi quotes in the beginning of his commentary on the Torah -- the gentiles may claim: "You are thieves," the Jews can answer, "The land belongs to G-d... and He gave it to us."

In contrast, when it comes to conquering other lands, this rationale does not apply. On the contrary, these lands were given to the gentiles, not to the Jews. If so, how can the Jews go out and conquer these lands. Seemingly, it would be appropriate to call them thieves for doing so.

A similar, and perhaps even deeper question applies regarding the parallels to this concept in our service of G-d. A Jew has the power to transform the material substance of this world into holiness, because of the potential granted to him by the Torah. Indeed, in an ultimate sense, these entities were brought into being with the intent that they be transformed into holiness.

Although a war is necessary to bring about that process of transformation, that is because G-d desired a dwelling in the lower worlds. Hence, even these entities were created in a manner in which they "belong" to the lower worlds and appear as an "enemy" to the service of holiness. Despite this tendency, however, they were also intended to be transformed into holiness.

We see this concept in regard to Eretz Yisrael. Although G-d had promised Avraham that He would give Eretz Yisrael to his descendants,[275] when the Jews re-entered Eretz Yisrael, they had to assert their control over the land through war. Indeed, before the Jews conquest, the Torah referred to Eretz Yisrael as "the inheritance of the nations." Nevertheless, at the very beginning of creation, the potential that the Jews would conquer Eretz Yisrael and transform it into a land of holiness was already granted.

This concept is easily understandable. Since G-d created Eretz Yisrael, He is entitled to give it to whomever He pleases. He granted it to the Jews, however, in a manner that will enable them to appreciate it, not as a gift given from above, but rather as something which they acquired through their own efforts. This requires that they wage a war to transform the land from being the heritage of gentiles into Eretz Yisrael, the holy land.

The above applies, however, in regard to wars which are mitzvos. In this instance, there is an explicit Divine command to conquer this portion of the world for holiness and reveal its essential connection to the Jews. When, however, speaking of a milchemas reshus, there is no Divine command involved, nor does the land belong to the Jews. Thus, taking it away from the gentiles -- or in the personal sphere, taking it away from worldliness -- is seemingly improper.

This, however, is the purpose of this portion of the Torah -- Parshas Ki Seitzei, which describes a milchemas reshus -- to teach us that we possess the potential for a new and different service; a war fought according to the directives of the Torah, but which was not obligated by its command. This endows the Jews with the potential to conquer additional portions of the world and make them and ultimately, the entire world -- not only the limited area of Eretz Yisrael -- a dwelling for G-d.

This is the purpose of the creation of all existence. Although the Torah states that only Eretz Yisrael was given to us from above -- and not the world at large, this is because G-d desired that this aspect of the task to make the world a dwelling for Him be dependent totally on the service of the Jews. Torah does not give any commands regarding these matters, leaving them solely in the hands of the Jewish people.

Thus, a milchemas reshus brings out a new dimension of service, serving G-d voluntarily, on one's own initiative, and thus, reaches a more complete level in the efforts to make this world a dwelling for G-d. Through this service, even those elements of existence which belong to the realm of worldliness -- as opposed to those which were, at the outset, designated for holiness -- become part of G-d's dwelling.

There is, however, a question involved: Since there is no obligation from the Torah to carry out a milchemas reshus and there is a danger involved,[276] why should such a risk be taken? Similarly, in the personal sphere, since the "war" to transform the material substance of the world requires that one become involved in material things, there is a possibility that the person's spiritual level will sink.

Though danger also exists in a milchemas mitzvah: a) We have no choice. We are commanded to wage such a war. b) The Torah's command itself protects us from danger.

In a milchemas reshus, however, there is no such command. Hence, the question arises: Why should a Jew expose himself to danger? The Torah explicitly commands us to protect ourselves from physical harm. Although this service can bring a person to a higher level, since there is a risk involved, it would appear proper that one should devote one's time and energy to the service of holiness where one will surely succeed.

Furthermore, if one fails in a milchemas reshus, there is a possibility that one will no longer be able to continue any service at all. Under such circumstances, it would seem preferable to devote oneself to the service of holiness, where one's future will not be jeopardized.

[Needless to say, we are not speaking about individuals who have nothing else to do, and because, "A person was born to toil," feels it necessary to wage a milchemas reshus. Every Jew has what to do in the study of Torah and the fulfillment of mitzvos. Why should this be jeopardized?]

This, however, is the lesson taught to us by this Torah portion: Despite the danger involved, a Jew must commit himself to this service. Furthermore, he is granted a Divine promise for success, "the L-rd, your G-d, will give the enemy into your hand."[277]

Thus, we see a fusion of two opposites: On one hand, the Torah teaches us that the Jew must choose to go out to war himself despite the danger involved. Simultaneously, he must fulfill the command to preserve his life. This is possible because a Jew is connected with the essence of G-d which is the source for the fusion of opposites.

This leads to a deeper understanding: The world and worldliness ("your enemy") has a power which it was granted by G-d. Indeed, it exists as an entity separate from the realm of holiness.[278] For this reason, it is necessary to wage war to conquer such an entity and this war possesses a certain amount of danger.

Nevertheless, because a Jew is connected with G-d's essence, he has the potential to bring about a new development in creation, conquer these elements of existence, and thus, have them included in the dwelling for G-d established in the lower worlds. G-d promises him success in these activities: "The L-rd, your G-d, will give the enemy into your hand." Furthermore, "you will take captives." This phrase can be interpreted to mean that even those aspects of existence which were "captured" by the "enemy" can be redeemed and transformed into holiness.

Potential for this service is derived from the fact that a Jew is essentially "upon (i.e., above) his enemies." He is one with G-d, transcending entirely the limits of the material world. This reflects a higher dimension of soul than the service to conquer Eretz Yisrael. Although the latter conquest also involves a war, as mentioned above, from the outset, Eretz Yisrael was the part of the world destined to become included in the realm of holiness. Therefore, it involves a dimension of service which is also limited in nature and which relates to worldly matters. In contrast, the service of milchemas mitzvah relates to that aspect of the Jewish people which is "above your enemy," transcending all aspects of material existence and one with G-d.

These concepts are also reflected in the personal realm, in a Jew's war with his yetzer hora, his struggle to refine his body and animal soul. On the verse, "And you shall... see the difference between one who serves G-d and one who does not serve Him," our Sages comment, " 'One who serves G-d' is one who reviews his subject matter one hundred and one times. 'One who does not serve Him' is one who reviews his subject matter only hundred times."

In Tanya, the Alter Rebbe differentiates between these individuals and a tzaddik. A tzaddik is called "a servant of G-d," using the past tense. He has already completed his battle with the yetzer hora and hence is referred to with a title that attests to the acceptance of his service as an established fact. In contrast, the expression, "one who serves G-d," indicates that the person to which it is referring is presently in the midst of his struggle with his yetzer hora, i.e., a benoni.

The Alter Rebbe continues, explaining the difference between "one who serves G-d" and "one who does not serve Him." In that era, it was customary for a student to review his subject matter one hundred times. Therefore, it was the one hundred and first time, the time when the person went beyond his habit and normal practice, which caused him to be distinguished as "one who serves G-d." His striving ("war") to rise above his nature and personal habits merited that he be awarded such a title.

These ideas can be related to the concepts of milchemas mitzvah and milchemas reshus explained above. Although a person has already waged the milchemas mitzvah which is required of him and thus refined his nature and habits to the extent that he is worthy of the title tzaddik, one might assume that he need not be involved in "wars" any more. On the contrary, he should proceed from strength to strength in the realm of holiness.

Nevertheless, in order to merit the title "one who serves G-d," one cannot remain satisfied with one's previous achievements. Rather, one must "go out to war," strive to change and elevate one's habits and nature, and reach an even higher level of holiness. This applies even to one who has engaged in such milchemos reshus previously. Although after refining his behavior to be included in the realm of holiness, he strove to seek greater heights, having attained those heights, he cannot remain passive, but must "serve G-d," by seeking an even higher peak.

The above is particularly relevant in the month of Elul. The yetzer hora may try to tempt a Jew, telling him, "Surely, you have already carried out all the dimensions of the service of Elul, observing Torah and mitzvos b'hiddur. Therefore, it is time to rest. If you want, continue your service, but do it in a regular manner, in a pattern that fits your accepted norms. Don't risk anything. Devote your energies to holiness."

In the present generation in particular, the yetzer hora will add, "This is the last generation of exile and the first generation of the redemption. Seemingly, our energies should be directed towards preparing the world for the coming of Moshiach by devoting our energies to progress in holiness, to rising higher spiritually."

For this reason, the Torah teaches us, "When you go out to war..." emphasizing how a Jew must constantly wage wars both against his own personal nature and in the world at large to make the world a dwelling for G-d. Indeed, even Moshiach will "fight the wars of G-d," to bring the world to its ultimate state of refinement.[279]

Thus, in this time, each person must apply himself to the service of Elul in a manner which challenges his nature. This includes the establishment of a bond of love and happiness with G-d as emphasized by the verse, "I am my Beloved's..."[280]

This relationship is expressed through Torah study in which a complete bond is established between a Jew and G-d. Thus, it is appropriate that each individual increase his own Torah study and also influence others (particularly, children[281]) to attend public sessions of Torah study.

Similarly, there should be an increase in tzedakah which reflects the unity of the Jews. Such unity brings about the love of G-d and motivates the expression of His love for the Jews.


Our Sages state that thirty days before a holiday, we should learn the laws pertaining to it. It is already less than thirty days before the holidays of Tishrei begin and in this context, it is necessary to mention that importance of providing Jews with their holiday needs so that they will be able to celebrate Rosh HaShanah and (the holidays which follow) in the manner stated in the Bible, "Eat sumptuous foods and drink sweet beverages and send portions to those who do not have prepared." This is particularly relevant this year, when Shabbos comes directly after Rosh HaShanah,[282] Sukkos, and Simchas Torah, and thus, festive meals will have to be prepared for three consecutive days.

May these activities bring each person a kesivah v'chasimah tovah for a good and sweet year and may it conclude the greatest blessing, the coming of Moshiach, who will "fight the wars of G-d and be victorious," and then, rebuild the Beis HaMikdash where we will fulfill the mitzvos mentioned in this week's Torah portion, bringing our first fruits as an offering to G-d.

A Tribute to

Rabbi Ya'akov Yehudah Hecht "

During this past week, we celebrated the Fifteenth of Av which our Sages associated with an increase in Torah study, promising (as Rashi relates): "Whoever increases his Torah study will have his life increased."

Torah is the true life of our people. In particular, this is evident among children whose observance of Torah is infused with vitality and enthusiasm. In this context, it would be appropriate to mention an individual who, throughout his lifetime, was able to infuse Jewish children with life and energy in Torah practice, Rabbi Ya'akov Yehudah Hecht. The Previous Rebbe noted his unique capabilities and placed him in the forefront of the efforts to spread Jewish education, as head of Shaloh (Committee for Furtherance of Jewish Education) which was founded by the Previous Rebbe. This involvement in Jewish education also led Rabbi Hecht to establish Camp Emunah.

The word Emunah is a feminine form of the word Emes which means "truth." Nevertheless, it also has an independent meaning, "faith." A person begins his service of G-d using the potential of faith, he believes that Torah is true. Ultimately, he comes to a personal awareness and appreciation of Torah's truth.

In this context, our Sages' statement, "Chabakuk based [all the mitzvos] on one [foundation], 'A righteous man shall live by his faith,' " takes on deeper meaning. The cornerstone and the launching point for any advance in the service of G-d is faith.

The approach of Emunah was characteristic of its Director who was able to spark the flame of faith in countless men, women and children whom he encountered in his efforts to spread Torah and Yiddishkeit. His names, Ya'akov and Yehudah,[283] reflected his leadership potential. Ya'akov was "the chosen one among the Patriarchs" and "the father of the tribes" and Yehudah was "the head of the tribes."

May we be spared the pain of sorrowful thoughts, for in the immediate future, we will witness the Resurrection of the Dead. Then we will declare, "Here is Ya'akov," "Here is Yehudah," and "Here is the Previous Rebbe and here are the Chassidim who share deep soul bonds with him."[284]

_ _ _

The fourteenth of Elul marks the conclusion of the period of sheloshim (the thirty days of mourning) for Rabbi Ya'akov Yehudah Hecht (") who was charged by the Previous Rebbe with spreading Torah and Yiddishkeit, particularly, in the field of Jewish education. He dedicated himself to this task with self-sacrifice for many years.

Everything which occurs is controlled by Divine Providence. Thus, the time of Rabbi Hecht's passing and similarly, the occasion of the sheloshim are surely connected with the service to which he dedicated his life.

One of the primary activities in which Rabbi Hecht was involved was the establishment of classes of Jewish education for public school children. Initially, various legal questions that were raised which caused difficulties in organizing these classes. Without being deterred, Rabbi Hecht dedicated himself to these activities and ultimately was successful in obtaining government permission for this project. Through these efforts, classes were established in hundreds of different locations.

Our Sages have elaborated on the importance of the education of young children, associating these efforts with the concepts of exile and redemption. Thus, our Sages state, "Jerusalem was destroyed solely because the Torah study of the children was nullified."[285] Consequently, it may be inferred that for Jerusalem and the Beis HaMikdash to be rebuilt, efforts have to be directed to this goal.

In this context, we can understand the significance of the date, the Fifteenth of Av, on which Rabbi Hecht passed away. The month of Av is associated with the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash. However, as our Sages emphasize, the destruction was intended so that the Beis HaMikdash would ultimately be rebuilt on a higher level than it existed beforehand. This intent is associated with an increase in Torah study which begins from the fifteenth of Av onwards[286] and continues throughout the month of Elul (which is associated with the giving of the Second Tablets).

In particular, this increase should be expressed in the area of the education of Jewish children. Removing the cause for the Beis HaMikdash's destruction, will cause the effect, the destruction and the exile, also to cease, and bring about the revelation of the Third Beis HaMikdash.

The above concepts are also alluded to in Rabbi Hecht's name, Ya'akov Yehudah. (It is appropriate to derive a lesson from Rabbi Hecht's name for one of the campaigns in which he was involved, encouraged children to use their Hebrew names.[287]) Ya'akov, includes the entire Jewish people as the Alter Rebbe explains, the soul of Ya'akov, our Patriarch, included the soul of every single Jew to be born until the end of time. This is also reflected in the fact that Ya'akov was the father of the twelve tribes from which the entire Jewish people stem.

To explain this concept using Chassidic terminology: Ya'akov represents "the Sublime Chariot," the level of Atzilus. However, the name Ya'akov can also be divided into -, which indicates that the yud, which stands for G-d, will be revealed within the context of eikev, the "heel," the lowest levels.

The transition from the level of Atzilus to the rung of eikev is accomplished through the tribes. They extend[288] Ya'akov's influence so that it can relate to all Jews as they exist within the context of this material world. Within the tribes themselves, Yehudah was the "foremost among the tribes," representing the quality of kingship.[289] Thus, the entire Jewish people are also referred to with the name Yehudah.

To translate the above into terms relevant to our service: Ya'akov is associated with the service of Torah study.[290] Yehudah grants us the potential to carry out the study of Torah on the level of deed. Thus, when Ya'akov descended to Egypt, he "sent Yehudah before him to Goshen" "to establish a house of study." For Jews in Egypt -- in exile -- to study Torah, they require the influence of Yehudah which is associated with the strength of a king.[291]

The above was reflected in the service of Rabbi Ya'akov Yehudah Hecht. He sought to draw down the influence of Ya'akov -- Torah -- to all Jews, particularly children, even those deep in exile, i.e., those attending public schools. He did this with the strength of a king (Yehudah).

There is a further allusion in his name. His two names, Ya'akov and Yehudah,[292] are numerically equivalent to 212, which is also the numerical equivalent of the word , which means "teacher." This is appropriate for Rabbi Hecht was the teacher of thousands of Jewish children. Furthermore, Rabbi Hecht dedicated himself to the Rebbe, the leader of our generation, seeking to express the Rebbe's desires on the level of deed and action. As soon as he heard even a hint that the Rebbe wanted something, he set out to do whatever was required to allow that wish to be fulfilled in actual deed.

[This can be associated with the chapter of Pirkei Avos (ch. 2) which is studied this Shabbos which begins: "Rebbi would say...." Rabbi Hecht's service involved "saying," i.e., expressing in the world, "Rebbi."[293] "Rebbi" is associated with Torah study as evident from his composition of the Mishnah.[294]]

Everything which a Jew sees or hears must serve as a directive in the service of G-d. Hence, reflecting on Rabbi Hecht's achievements should spur each individual to involve himself in similar activities, the education of Jewish children, including those attending in public schools.

May these activities hasten the fulfillment of the prophecy, "Those who lie in the dust will arise and sing," when the Previous Rebbe will arise together with those Chassidim who established bonds with him. And the entire Jewish people will merit to study Torah from the best teacher, G-d, Himself, as it is written, "A man will no longer teach his colleague because all will know Me, from the small to the great."

War & Its Challenges

This week's Torah portion begins, "When you go out to war upon your enemies... and you take captives,"[295] relating laws regulating the conduct of the Jews in war time. Despite Judaism's desire and striving for universal peace, the Torah itself lays down rules for war.

The Torah did not institute these rules merely out of necessity, because of the possibility of conflict that exists within the world at large. On the contrary, G-d commands us to wage certain wars, (milchemas mitzvah),[296] clearly indicating that, at time, He desires that wars be fought.

Furthermore, the Torah also mentions guidelines for wars for which there is no direct command (milchemas reshus). [Indeed, the content of this week's Torah portion describes such a war.] Here, we are granted permission to engage in battle for purposes that the Torah does not consider as absolute necessities. Why is such permission granted and what is the redeeming virtue of such war?

Whenever a war is fought, there is an inherent danger. For this reason, the Torah absolves a bridegroom, a person who constructed a new home, and the like from combat duty.[297] Similarly, battle causes destruction in the world at large. What is the purpose and value of such wars?

These questions can be resolved by an abstract analysis of the meaning of war. War is a conflict between two opposing natures. Sometimes, when one entity desires to exert influence over another, it can do so peacefully, with the latter accepting the basic thrust of the former and gradually modifying its behavior until ultimately, its powers can be harnessed and used for the goals of the first. When two powers are diametrically opposed, however, and one tries to exert its influence over the other, conflict will ensue.

In an ultimate sense, the concept of war reflects the efforts to transform this physical world into a dwelling place for G-d. This is the purpose of creation, the goal to which our lives and similarly, every aspect of existence at large, should be directed. Certain elements of existence can, in a gradual and peaceful way, be refined and directed to holiness. There are elements in this world, however, e.g., self-centeredness and the search for personal gratification, which stand in direct opposition to G-dliness. In their present form, they cannot be refined or elevated, but rather to borrow an expression from our Sages, "only through destruction, they can be purified."[298]

This is the Torah's conception of war, a struggle to transform even the lowest elements of existence into a dwelling for G-d. For this reason, the Torah commanded the Jews to fight wars to conquer Eretz Yisrael, to turn a land which was renown for its depravity[299] into a land, "which the eyes of the L-rd, your G-d, are upon it from the beginning of the year until the end of the year."[300] Furthermore, even when there is no explicit command for war, the potential is also given to extend the boundaries of holiness and encompass areas which were previously governed by worldliness.

In microcosm, this conception of war is relevant within our own lives as well. On the verse, "And you shall... see the difference between one who serves G-d and one who does not serve Him,"[301] our Sages comment,[302] " 'One who serves G-d' is one who reviews his subject matter one hundred and one times. 'One who does not serve Him' is one who reviews his subject matter only hundred times."

In Tanya,[303] the Alter Rebbe explains that, in that era, it was customary for a student to review his subject matter one hundred times. Therefore, it was the one hundred and first time, the time when the person went beyond his habit and normal practice, which caused him to be distinguished as "one who serves G-d." His striving to rise above his nature and personal habits merited that he be awarded such a title.

A person must challenge himself. Gradual progress is not enough. To "serve G-d," we have to break our natures and show there are no limits to our commitment to Him. When a person's service of G-d is confined within the scope of his nature and habits, he is serving himself as much as he is serving G-d. It is only when he goes beyond his self, when his self-image and even his fundamental personality are no longer of consequence to him and he rises above them entirely, that he can be called "one who serves G-d."

This service reveals the essential and unbounded Divine potential each Jew possesses within his soul. Transcending the limits of one's own nature, reveal the existence of a potential which is above all concept of limitation.

The Torah assures us that we have the potential to carry out this service. This is the implication of the phrase, "upon your enemies,"1 in the opening verse of this week's Torah portion. Grammatically, it would have been proper to state "against you enemies," or "with your enemies." Nevertheless, the Torah used a somewhat awkward construction to teach us, that before the war begins, a Jew has to know that he stands above his enemies. He possesses a fundamentally infinite Divine potential, which if tapped, will ensure him of success in any conflict in which he is involved.

In this context, war is part of the process that is necessary for -- and will lead to -- the complete refinement of the world. Thus, the process of Messianic revelation involves a stage when "he will fight the wars of G-d and be victorious."[304] Nevertheless, in an ultimate sense, war is only a temporary phenomenon. After Moshiach has established his rule, "There will be no war, envy, or competition... and the occupation of the entire world will be solely to know G-d."[305]



  1. (Back to text) Furthermore, that Divine promise had the status of an actual deed. From that time onward, Eretz Yisrael is considered as having been given to the Jews.

  2. (Back to text) Indeed, the Torah itself warns of the dangers of a war, excusing a person who built a house, betrothed a woman, or planted a vineyard, "lest he die in the war."

  3. (Back to text) This blessing is realized, however, after the Jew takes the initiative and sets out on this path of service. First, there is an arousal from below, the service on the part of the Jewish people. Only afterwards, follows the revelation of G-d's blessing. In contrast, in a milchemas mitzvah, the commandment of -- and thus, the power granted by -- the Torah precedes the Jews' service.

  4. (Back to text) This contrasts to entities which, like Eretz Yisrael, were from the very beginning of creation destined to be given to the Jewish people.

  5. (Back to text) Hence, a similar pattern must be reflected by each individual in his service. The "spark of Moshiach" which exists within every Jew must be activated and wage "the wars of G-d."

  6. (Back to text) The love relationship between G-d and the Jewish people is relevant the entire year. For this reason, there is no Chabad custom to recite Shir HaShirim at a specific time which would imply that, at that time alone, the relationship is given greater emphasis. (After the Seder on Pesach, particularly after the second Seder, however, there are those who have the custom to recite this text.) Nevertheless, in Elul, as emphasized by its connection to the above verse and the concept of "the king in the field," greater stress is placed on this bond of love.

  7. (Back to text) Note the following Essay, "A Tribute to Rabbi Ya'akov Yehudah Hecht (")," where this topic was mentioned at length.

  8. (Back to text) In regard to Rosh HaShanah, the three consecutive days of festive meals applies even in Eretz Yisrael.

  9. (Back to text) From a mystic perspective, there is a connection between the names Ya'akov and Yehudah and the qualities of Emes and Emunah mentioned previously. Emes reflects the quality of Tiferes which is identified with Ya'akov, while Emunah reflects the quality of Malchus which is identified with Yehudah.

  10. (Back to text) This is particularly true since only a brief time has passed since the soul departed from the body. Even after a person's passing, his soul shares a connection with the body.

  11. (Back to text) The awesome number of children involved in Torah study in that era is emphasized by our Sages' statement: "In Betar, there were four hundred synagogues. Each one had four hundred teachers and each teacher instructed four hundred young children." Similarly, throughout Eretz Yisrael and the diaspora, there were an abundance of children who studied Torah.

  12. (Back to text) Our Sages explain that from the Fifteenth of Av onwards, it is proper to use the additional hours of the night for an increase in Torah study. They promised, "Whoever makes an increase, will have his days increased."

  13. (Back to text) This campaign is associated with the redemption of the Jewish people as emphasized by our Sages who stated that one of the reasons the Jews merited the redemption from Egypt was that "they did not change their names." They continued using Hebrew names through the entire exile.

  14. (Back to text) Indeed, the Hebrew word for tribe, shevet, is also associated with the concept of extension.

  15. (Back to text) The association of Yehudah with this quality is further emphasized by our Sages' statement: "Royalty is acquired through thirty attributes." The numerical equivalent of Yehudah () is thirty.

  16. (Back to text) The Torah is the source of life-energy for the entire Jewish people. Since, as explained above, Ya'akov includes all Jewish souls, it is appropriate that he be connected with this service.

  17. (Back to text) The Torah is also associated with the quality of kingship as our Sages declared: "Who are our kings? Our Rabbis."

  18. (Back to text) The abbreviation of Rabbi Hecht's two names, ", is also significant. The name Y-H-V-H begins with a Yud, i.e., the yud reflects its highest level, and the name A-donai ends with a yud, i.e., the yud relates to its lowest extension. Thus, two yuddim reflect the extension of high peaks symbolized by the yud of the Y-H-V-H into the lowest levels that relate to the yud of A-donai.

  19. (Back to text) The word Rebbi is also associated with the Sanctuary (and thus, with the Beis HaMikdash). The letters are also associated with the letters of the word [for a beis is often interchanged with a shin and the complete expression of a yud (numerically equivalent to ten) is yud times yud (100) which is the numerical equivalent of kuf. meaning "beam," refers to the beams of the Sanctuary.

    When rearranged, the same letters spell out the word , "connection," which reflects the bond between a Chossid and a Rebbe.

  20. (Back to text) This is also related to the Torah study of younger children which revolves primarily around the study of the Mishnah.

  21. (Back to text) Deuteronomy 21:10.

  22. (Back to text) See Rambam, Hilchos Melachim 5:1-2.

  23. (Back to text) Deuteronomy 20:5-7, 24:5.

  24. (Back to text) Keilim 2:1. See the application of this concept in Likkutei Sichos, Vol. VI, pgs. 22-23.

  25. (Back to text) See Rashi, Leviticus 18:3.

  26. (Back to text) Deuteronomy 11:12.

  27. (Back to text) Malachi 3:18.

  28. (Back to text) Chagigah 9b.

  29. (Back to text) Chapter 15.

  30. (Back to text) Rambam, Hilchos Melachim 11:4.

  31. (Back to text) Rambam, Hilchos Melachim 11:5.

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