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Secret Weapon

By: Rav Ari Shvat

We find in this week's parsha two surprising mitzvot. Hashem commands Israeli soldiers not to be scared during war:

“Ki tomar bilvavecha rabim hagoyim ha’ela mimeni eicha oochal l’horisham . Lo tira mihem zachor tizkor asher asa Hashem Elokecha l’pharo u’lechol mitrayim ….  Lo ta'arotz mipneyhem ki-Hashem Elokecha bekirbecha E-l gadol venora” (7:17-21)

 "And you may say in your heart, 'The nations are too strong for me, how can I conquer them?' You shall not fear them, but remember what Hashem did to Pharoh and all of Egypt… You shall not be scared of them, because Hashem your G-d is among you, a Great and Awesome G-d."

The Rambam and Sefer HaChinuch say that this mitzvah applies to this day, whenever Israel goes to war. And the obvious question is, how can we control an involuntary and natural reaction like fear (especially during war!)? Can such feelings be controlled?

Another interesting mitzvah in the parsha is typified by the following story: A charedi rabbi once asked Rav Zvi Yehuda Kook why he participates every year in the military parade that Tzahal used to march annually on Yom HaAtma'ut? He was asked, "Isn't this transgressing the issur of:

“V’amartem bilvavecha: kochi v’otzem yadi assa li et hachayil hazeh...v’zacharta et Hashem Elokecha ki hu hanoten l’cha ko’ach laasot chayil.”(8:14-18).

 "And you may say in your heart, 'My strength and and the might of my hand made this victory'. But you shall remember Hashem your G-d, for He is the One who gives you strength to do heroic victory (in war)"!

Rav Kook's reply answers both of the above questions. He quoted the Ran, in his commentary on that pasuk who points out the peshat: Hashem is the One who gives Israel the strength to do heroic victory, but it's also telling us that we must have strength to do the heroic victory! We must "do heroic victory" but remember where our strength comes from. We are not allowed to stand by and wait for miracles, as we learn, "Don't rely on miracles" (Masechet Shabbat 32a). Just as Yehoshua, in conquering Eretz Yisrael, had strategy and utilized military tactics (Yehoshua 8), how much more so today, must we do so. Just as we work for a living but daven that Hashem should help us succeed, so too militarily, we must "have strength to do heroic victory", and daven that Hashem should help our efforts.

Not only is there's nothing wrong with going to a Tzahal military parade, but it's davka a great opportunity to thank Hashem for "giving us the strength" to defeat our enemies, exactly as the pasuk states! Rav Z.Y. Kook stressed, just like the lulav and shofar, so too the M16 or Uzi rifle, and the F16 fighter planes in Israel are also "tashmishei mitzvah" ("objects of mitzvah")!

We can now understand why Israeli soldiers are halachically not allowed to be scared during war. Because when one remembers that our secret weapon is HaKadosh Baruch Hu, we really have nothing to fear! As we often sang together in Midreshet:

“Hinei kel yishuati, evtach v’lo efchad, ki ozi v’zimrat ka, Hashem vayehi li l’yi’shua!”

As I wrote these words, tens of thousands of our chayal brothers were searching day and night for any signs of Naftali Frankel, Gil-Ad Sha'ar, and Eyal Yifrach (Hashem Yikom Damam). Since then we needed to send tens of thousands of our boys into Azza in Mivtza Tzuk Eitan ("Operation Protective Edge") in a month of fighting not only to avenge, but even more important, to deter, intimidate and prevent any future shelling or kidnappings. All Am Yisrael davened to HaKadosh Baruch Hu for the safety of our soldiers and citizens, but parallel to that, we must also thank Him for granting us the army, strength and know-how and the aid to succeed in doing this most important of all mitzvot- saving Am Yisrael, which even supersedes the three cardinal sins! If we would have had Tzahal in the previous generation, the Holocaust would have ended differently- so we must be grateful to Him for these "tashmishei mitzvah"- the guns and the tanks! Subsequently, with this belief, BH we not need fear at all, anything but Him!

Shabbat Shalom





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