The Real Battle
"When you go out to war against your enemies, Hashem will make you victorious over them, and you will take captives." (Deut. 21:10)
Rashi zt"l comments that the verse is talking about
a "Milchemes Rishus", an optional war, and not
one that the Torah demands of Yisroel to fight. The Chassidic
literature finds in this verse and Rashi's commentary on
it, some basic tenets of Chassidic practice. R'
Avraham Yaacov of Sadiger, the son of
Every material thing in creation is endowed with a unique and wholly spiritual element which enlivens that item, as it is written in Nechemia 9:6, (and found in the Shacharis service in the end of V'Yevaraiych Dovid) ". . .and You constantly give life to all living things."
Every item of food and drink is especially imbued with this spiritual vitality as it is written, "The Tzaddik eats for the satiation of his soul". (Proverbs 13:25). The Tzaddik eats in order to extract and elevate the spiritual portion of the food.
In every action a person ought to endeavor to be conscious of the spiritual element inherent in the item from which he is benefiting, since no thing is devoid of this spiritual, enlivening aspect.
Given this understanding, one might think that in order to raise up its spiritual element, it would be permissible to do something forbidden by the Torah! Nevertheless, the sages inform us (Yevamos 20a), "Sanctify yourself with that which is permissible to you". This Avodah is proper only with things which are not forbidden to you.
Now understand the meaning of our verse. "When you go out to war against your enemies. . .", when you set out to do battle against the Yezter Hara, your negative inclination, then you should "take captives", that is to say, to gather up and elevate the Holy Sparks of the spiritual aspect which enlivens every living thing and have fallen into captivity.
As Rashi informs us, this is the "Milchemes Rishus", the battle to sanctify the things which the Torah permits us to benefit from. Even those things which the Torah permits us (gives rishus to us to use), must be enjoyed in a manner which will liberate and elevate the fallen sparks which have become captives of the Yezter Hara.
Once, R' Chaim of Sanz, the Divrei Chaim (1797-1876), was travelling on a boat across the (Dnieper?) river. During the crossing, the Rebbi stood on the deck leaning against the railing, smoking his ever present pipe. Suddenly, the pipe slipped from his mouth and fell into the water of the river below! The Rebbe made a quick calculation. If he acted immediately, he could manage to bend over the railing and retrieve his pipe. But just as suddenly as the pipe had fallen in, he remembered that he had never in his life bent himself over to come closer to, or to partake of any material pleasure. Although smoking his pipe was a distinctive component of his Avodas Hashem, he left it to float away in the water.
When the boat docked at the pier on the other side of the river, R' Chaim disembarked. As he walked down the pier towards the shore, he became aware of something near his feet, bobbing up and down in the water. He realized that it was his pipe! He nodded his head in appreciation to Hashem, and this time bent over slightly to reach the pipe.
His grandson, the late Sanz-Klausenberger Rebbe (1904-1994), remarked, that he remembered seeing the pipe which had been kept as a family heirloom, before it was lost during the Holocaust. It was recognizable by its distended bowl which had absorbed so much water that day in the river. He then added, that since his grandfather had always raised the spiritual level of any material item that he had had benefit from, he experienced a miracle that day when Hashem returned his pipe, in essence, raising up the material to a more spiritual level.
". . . and you will eliminate the evil within (from amongst) you, and all of Israel will hear about it and they will fear." (Deut. 21:21)
R' Avraham Mattisyahu of Shtefanesht, (1847-1933), the son of the Shtefaneshter Rebbe, the fourth son of R' Yisrael of Ruzhin, was considered to be one of the hidden Tzaddikim of his generation, even though he never recited a Torah thought in public, and there is hardly one idea that can be said over in his name. He learned in strict privacy in his room and forbade entrance to all comers. He carefully replaced the books when he finished, leaving no sign that they had ever been used. Only once was he "caught" with a sefer in his hands. Yet, he was totally immersed in his Avodas Hashem.
Once, a certain chossid of the Rebbe asked him about his behavior. "The Rebbe", he said addressing R' Avraham Mattisyahu, "doesn't ever deliver a Torah thought, not even at the Tish, nevertheless, thousands constantly arrive to be in the Rebbe's presence! How is this possible?
"What is so surprising to you?", began the Rebbe in what was to be one of the only Torah thoughts attributable to his name. "The verse says, '. . . and you will eliminate the evil within (from amongst) you'. When one does that, then the result is, 'and all of Israel will hear about it and they will fear'."
"When a man takes a new bride, he shall not enter military service nor be assigned to any associated duty. He must remain free for his wife for one year, and he shall rejoice with his bride that he married." (Deut. 24:5)
As it is well known, marriage and family are at the core of Jewish life. In fact, the very first mitzvah in the Torah is to be fruitful and multiply. This implies marriage and then giving birth to and raising children.
As most people know, the divorce rate today in our traditional Jewish communities, is exceedingly low. One of the reasons why, even in today's world, we have so much success in transmitting the values of marriage and family, may well be because of the mitzvah we learn from the above verse.
The Sefer HaChinuch, the book of Mitzvos education, learns from this verse it's 582nd (from amongst 613) mitzvah.
"The groom shall rejoice with his bride for a full year."
The Torah enjoins the young groom to gladden his new bride and rejoice with her for a full year. This means that he should not travel out of town, nor go to war, nor to any other activity that will result in him being alone for a number of days without his bride. He should dwell together with her for a full year from the day of the wedding, as it is written, ". . . he must remain free for his wife for one year, and he shall rejoice with his bride that he married".
The underlying reason of the mitzvah is, that Hashem, in His infinite wisdom, chose to create the world. He desired that it be populated with healthy and deserving creations who would unite in holiness, male and female. Since to Hashem, promiscuity and immorality are abhorrent, he decreed concerning the people who are called by his name, that a man should dwell for a full year with the woman who has been designated to bring souls in to the world together with him.
In this year, he accustoms himself to her nature, and she to his, and he binds his thoughts to hers. He instills her likeness in his heart and allows her ways to permeate his soul. Then she will become familiar to him and any likeness or association with any other woman will seem to him as utterly foreign. He will shun any contact with other women. His wife, with whom only he is intimate, shall become the sole business of his being. The children born of such a union will be pleasing and becoming, and the world will be full of grace in the eyes of Hashem.
A Guten Shabbos
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