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Get Inside Yourself

R Pesach Siegel

Parshat Ki Seitzeh

Sep 9, 2011

Parshas Ki Seitze 5771

 The beginning words of Parshas Ki Seitze are an enigma. The posuk says, “Ki seitze lamilchama al oyvecha unesano Hashem Elokecha biyadecha.” When you go to war against your enemy, Hashem will deliver your enemy into your hands

 Over the passage of Jewish history, there have been wars won and wars lost. In general, we can have some glimmering of understanding in the victories. The Bnei Yisroel were victorious at a time when their connection to the Creator was solid. In the very first of wars, when beset upon by the nation of Amalek, the ebb and sway of the war mirrored the spiritual level of the people. When they gazed up at Moshe Rabeinu’s hands lifted in prayer they overcame the enemy. When they failed to do so, they lost ground.

 In light of this, the opening statement of the parsha seems lacking. It appears as if the only thing required from the Bnei Yisroel is that they “go out” to war. Once they do that, victory is assured. Why isn’t there the slightest mention of fulfilling the ratzon of Hashem or following in his ways?

 Human beings are born with a natural defense system to stimulus originating outside of themselves. For example, upon hearing sound business advice from a colleague, the first thing that runs through one’s mind is, “Is my colleague really interested in my well being? What’s in it for him?” There is a resistance and a healthy dose of suspicion.

 But, there is no defense or resistance against an inner voice. One tends to follow one’s own advice without question. Saying, “I know myself better than anyone else knows me. I alone know what’s good for me. No one can understand me as well as I understand myself.”

 This is certainly true and a solid path to tread upon.

 Wherein lies the danger of such an approach?

 What if a ventriloquist learns to mimic the inner voice of others? What if a mentalist is able to pierce the innermost region of a person and infiltrate his thought process? All of humanity would be at his mercy. 

 When Hashem created the first man, He created him perfect. He created one who could rely with certainty upon his own instincts. Even his random thoughts would not lead him astray. He was the epitome of yashrus.

 This all changed when Adam ate from the Eitz HaDa’as. He internalized evil and granted the Yetzer Hara the above-mentioned ability to infiltrate the thought process of all mankind. We can no longer trust our instincts. It takes a great amount of toil to differentiate between the voice of passion and the desires of the soul.

 In a flesh and blood war, the enemy endeavors to establish a fifth column, to have one of their own penetrate the command structure of the enemy, feeding them false information under the guise of loyalty. The only way to avoid the damage of such an enemy is to locate and identify the source of the information. Is it from a loyal source or from a foreign traitorous infiltrator?

 The same process must be followed in our task upon this earth. Are the choices that we make being made by our very own selves, furthering us along the path of positive accomplishment? Or, perhaps, they originate from an impersonator, who mimics the voice of our inner desires, and only wishes for our destruction?

 The key to victory is, first and foremost, to know that we are engaged in a battle and we are fighting against a powerful, cruel enemy. Even though it may seem that it is our own desire to embark upon a destructive path, that is not the voice of “self”. It is the voice of the Yetzer Hara, disguised as one’s own voice.

 This is what is meant by Ki seitzei lamilchama al oyvecha – one must know that he is engaged in a battle and must go out and fight an external enemy. This awareness is the zechus that one requires. Once one attains this integral clarity, he will merit divine assistance – unesano Hashem Elokecha biyadecha.

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