The Key to Trust and Tranquility – Ki Teitzei (Parsha insights – Sages of Mussar)

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We find a curious pattern in the Torah: Hashem first promises victory to Klal Yisrael and then cautions them not to panic. For instance He assures us  (Devarim 20:2): “When you go out to war against your enemy and you see horse and chariot, a great multitude of people who outnumber you, do not fear them because Hashem, your G-d, is with you  — Who brought you up from the land of Egypt.” After this assurance Hashem warns them (Devarim 20:3): “.…Listen O Israel, today you are close to battle against your enemies; let your heart not be faint; do not panic; and do not fall into despair before them.

Yet Hashem stated, “I will be with you in the battle.” If HaShem pledged to deliver them, what difference does it make whether they are frightened or not?

Rather, the Torah reveals an axiomatic principle concerning faith. Specifically, Divine assistance is predicated upon our preparation, i.e., we must actively strengthen our hearts with faith in Hashem. If we fall into panic as a result of not preparing, then we will not merit Divine assistance. Accordingly, the Torah tells us to first prepare our heart by strengthening our faith in HaShem – and His promise – before going to battle.

The Duties of the Heart writes, “Our greatest enemy is the yetzer hora (i.e., the negative impulse). The most powerful of its weapons is that it attempts to sow doubts in our mindregarding true concepts. It endeavors to introduce false ideas into our mind, trying to undermine our faith in HaShem. If we will be on guard against it and prepare an arsenal of true ideals to fight against it, we will be delivered from it, with HaShem’s help. The yetzer hora will be quickly defeated when we stand up to it, as stated in (Bereishis 4:7): ‘You can conquer it.‘”

In summation, the human being is engaged in a battle between faith in HaShem and non-belief. The yetzer hora takes aim and shoots arrows of doubt, trying to shatter the pillars of our faith. The Duties of the Heart teaches us that the primary defense against the infiltration of the yetzer hora’s weapons of falsehood is for us to prepare in advance a solid fortress of true belief in HaShem. May we form these weapons of truth with our intellect. Then we will merit receiving the blessing of Hashem and emerge victorious in our battle for truth and faith (based on the writings of the Alter M’Kelm, Rav Simchah Zissel Ziv)

Today:  Focus on one solid concept of belief in HaShem – and remember it so you can recall it when doubt enters your mind.

Copyright © 2010 by Rabbi Zvi Miller and the Salant Foundation

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