The people of Israel have entered into the month of Elul and are preparing themselves for the introspection and soul searching of the Tishrei festivals. Yet around this land, dark clouds seem to be gathering. There is talk of massive uprisings and rioting by the Palestinians. Syria is dissolving into its different constituents and may offer terrorism new options in the midst of its chaos. Turkey has decided to take on the helm of the boat of “ Israel Hatred and Vilification”.
Israel is very much aware that it needs to prepare itself for the possible onslaughts of September. Thankfully the Israeli Defense Forces are very involved in all the correct activities involved in this preparation.
Regrettably large segments of the people of Israel are not. That in itself can prove to be very dangerous for this country.
In this week’s torah portion we read
If you go out (Ki Tetzei)to war against your enemies, and the Lord, your God, will deliver him into your hands, and you take his captives, ( Devarim 21;10)
Then further in the parsha (torah portion ) we read
“ When a camp goes out (Ki Tetzei) to war against your enemies, you shall guard against anything evil ( ibid 23:10)
Our sages have taught that the first “ki tetzei “ is referring to much more than just the specific case of a captive.
The Talmud says “Lo dibrah Torah ela kineged yetzer hara -the Torah only spoke to the evil inclination of man ( Kiddushin, 21b).That is to say, that the torah here is dealing with the failures and weaknesses of man. If a man falls prey to his yetzer harah ( evil inclination) and takes this woman captive, the torah will give the directions and rules that will help extricate him and the young maiden from their common predicament
They understand these verses as refering to that battle with the enemy within us. That eternal battle with our internal Yetser Harah. That is the enemy that must be shorn of the garments , alluring hair so that its true nature can be revealed and then rejected.
Our sages explain that the second “ki tetzei “ (ibid 23:10 ) is speaking of an obligatory war against the enemies around us , thay are intent on our destruction. The word that stands out in these verses is the word Machane-Camp. Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, zt”l, describes the biblical convcept of a Machane-Camp, as the entity brought together and joined in a unified purpose against a common enemy. In the mandatory war ( Milchemet Mitzvah) against dire physical threat the holiness and the unity of the camp is critical.
“ When a camp goes out (Ki Tetzei) to war against your enemies, you shall guard against anything evil. For Hashem, your G-d, walks in the midst of your camp so as to save you and grant you victory over your enemy. ( ibid 23:10 15)
Lack of unity and holiness of purpose is the only real danger confronting Israel today.
The Minister of Defense, Ehud Barak, sends his police to destroy the houses of the Jewish inhabitants of Migron in the middle of the night.The head of the Civil Administration , Brig. General Almoz, orders a discriminatory policy of demolition of “unauthorized building” by Jewish settlers yet avoiding those built by Arabs in Judea and Samaria. This order is in direct contradiction of government promises to the High Court.
Opposition leader Tzipi Livni rants against the settler community and the Ultra orthodox community in almost all her speeches. Recently she explained the absence of the Haredim and Settlers from the last “Social Protest (that actually began on Shabbat) by claiming the falsehood that these groups receive a disproportionate share of the budgetary pie.
In the city of Bet Shemesh, differing communities are locked in bitter struggles about values and schools.
Disunity in the camp is the antithesis of holiness and baseless hatred is a source of great shame.
“For Hashem, your G-d, walks in the midst of your camp so as to save you and grant you victory over your enemy. Your camp must, therefore, be holy, so that He will not see a shameful thing among you and turn away from behind you. ( ibid 23:10 15)
As we enter these difficult days we need to remember that the only true protection over this nation is the fact that G-d is within the camp. We can only pray that such protection will continue in the merit of the large portion of our community that have still not forgotten the power of lovingkindness and the importance of the “unity of the camp”.
What then is left for us to do? We must do what our father Jacob did when he and his “machaneh” faced Esav and his. We must prepare for warfare, be open to other forms of conflict resolution and turn in prayer towards our Father in Heaven.
Yet there is more. Maran Harav Kook zt”l wrote “The purely righteous do not complain about evil, rather they add justice. They do not complain about heresy, rather they add faith. They do not complain about ignorance, rather they add wisdom. ( Arpilei Tohar, p. 39 )