Parshat Ki-Tetze: Who Are Our Real Enemies?

Renana and Omer Cohen are Beren-Amiel shlichim at the Barkai Yeshiva in Brooklyn, NY

%D7%9E%D7%A9%D7%A4%D7%97%D7%AA %D7%9B%D7%94%D7%9F 2At the beginning of our parsha we read about the eshet yefat to’ar, “a woman of beauty” who is taken captive in war.  The Torah begins this particular portion with the words: “When you go forth to battle against your enemies, and the Lord your God delivers them into your hands, and you carry them away captive.” 

Hassidic rabbis explain at length how the war in question is the war again the Yetzer HaRa, one’s evil inclination, and how this war takes on a different form and shape for each individual.  The word oyveicha – “your enemies” – written in the second person singular form in Hebrew, refers, then, to the particular enemies of the individual.  In other words, each and every person has to acknowledge the enemies within himself, those evil traits in one’s personality that must be faced and defeated.  For one to be victorious over one’s “inner enemies” one must take action; but for this to happen one must first acknowledge the enemy and then wage war against it; fend off one’s evil inclinations with the aim of rectifying that which is wanting. 

During the entire course of one’s life, one must not only strive to advance oneself on the personal level, but one should also exert efforts to make the world a better place.  And in much the same way that one has a specific role to play in one’s own life, so, too, every person has a role to play in the public domain, impacting the world with the special qualities given him. There are myriad needs and wants in this world; hence, every person must finetune the capabilities with which he will act in order make improvement and create change, and, in so doing, fulfill his calling in the world.  When one is aware of one’s capabilities and the road paved out particularly for him, one is better able to act and deploy the skills with which he has been blessed in the most suitable way for himself and his family. 

The renowned Hassidic rebbe, Reb Zusha of Anipoli, said on his deathbed, “When I leave this world, if I am asked:  ‘Zusha, why were you not like Moshe Rabeinu?’ –  I will not fear, for can any man of this earth be like Moshe Rabeinu?  But I will surely fear when I am asked – ‘Zusha, why were you not Zusha?  You had all the ability to be Zusha, so why were you not that Zusha?'”

The life of man is a mission, a shlichut.  When engaging in any type of shlichut, one has to ask oneself what his mission is and what part he can play; what he can contribute and what capabilities he has with which he can fulfill the mission.  Only when one acknowledges his strengths, can one also become meaningful for others. 

Shlichut can change from one minute to the next and is contingent upon many variables.  The Torah uses the phrasing “When you go forth to battle against your enemies” to teach us that even when setting out to fight the evil in this world, we must first recognize the enemies – the evil inclinations –  existing deep within us.  Only then can we hope to fulfill our true calling, and rest assured that when our time comes to leave this world, we can say wholeheartedly – “I was Zusha. I was who I was meant to be”, confident in the knowledge that we did all we could to fulfill our mission on this earth.    

We are currently residing in Brooklyn where we serve as educational shlichim at the Barkai School, a flagship of the Jewish Syrian community.  The school was founded in the year 2000 by a group of educators, including Rabbi Shabtai Sabato, and is currently attended by 400 students.  We, as educational emissaries, are responsible for coordinating social activities and reinforcing the connection with Israel. 


Latest posts

Join our Mailing List

Get weekly divrei Torah, news, and updates directly in your inbox from Ohr Torah Stone.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
.pf-primary-img{display:none !important;}