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AUGUST 16-17, 2002 9 ELUL 5762

Pop Quiz: What garment may be worn even if it has sha'atnez (mixture of wool & linen)?


"When you will go out to war against your enemies and Hashem your G-d will deliver them into your hands" (Debarim 21:10)

Our perashah discusses the laws that guide a Jewish soldier when he goes to war. The Torah sets a high standard of morality for our soldiers, something which is sorely lacking in the armies of the nations of the world. However, before the halachah discussion begins, the Torah hints to us a profound thought. When our army goes out to war it is Hashem that places our enemies into our hands. It is not our army that vanquishes our enemies, but it is Hashem. Humility is an important trait for all of us to have, as it says in Pirkei Abot "You shall be exceedingly humble" (Abot 4:4).

Today we are suffering tremendously from the Arabs in Israel. We are condemned for whatever we do. We feel humbled and frustrated. Let us look at our model for a Jewish warrior, King David. In Tehillim he says "A song of ascents, by David. Hashem, my heart was not proud, and my eyes were not haughty" (Tehillim 131:1). The literal translation of "lo ramu einai" is "I did not lift my eyes." When David killed Goliath, the crowd was wild with glee, letting out a tremendous roar of praise for David. He did not look at the crowd. He did not take a bow. He held his eyes downward not to allow his heart to become arrogant. He fully realized it was Hashem Who delivered Goliath into his hands.

The commentaries of Radak and Seforno emphasize that the Jews in exile should follow David's example. The book of Zephaniah (3:11) predicts that the redemption will take place when the last vestiges of arrogance are pruned from the Jewish people. "Then I shall remove from your midst those who revel in arrogance and you shall no longer display pride on My Holy Mountain." The prophet predicts that the Holy Mountain, Jerusalem, will be taken by us when we are humble.

Today Hashem is putting us through the process of acquiring humility to bring the redemption to humble people, because the proud ones, trusting their own military might will not be on the Mountain of Hashem. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"When you will go out to war against your enemies" (Debarim 21:10)

The Torah tells us that when you go out to war G-d will give the enemy in your hands and you will take captives. Is that always the case that when we go to war we will win over our enemies?

The Rabbis tell us this refers to the constant wars we have with out arch-enemy, the yeser hara, the evil inclination. The Torah is teaching us an amazing lesson. If we only go to war with him, already we have won the battle because we know to be aware of his tricks and we are therefore committed to win him. Our problem with the evil inclination is that we let him take over our lives and don't put up any resistance. That's because we feel we don't stand a chance with him. But the truth is that if we attempt to fight him, we are more than halfway there and then Hashem will give him to us in our hands. As the Selihot season begins, we should know that by coming to Selihot and minyan or classes, we are going out to war with the yeser hara. Then Hashem will help us by giving him into our hands even in other areas so that we can truly better our lives. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


This Week's Haftarah: Yishayahu 54:1-10.

This week, we read the fifth of the series of seven haftarot that deal with consolation and redemption. Hashem promises that he will show mercy and bring the people back to Jerusalem. His kindness will never be removed from us, and His covenant of peace will not falter.

Answer to pop quiz: A sisit.

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