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Browse Torah Articles: Sefer Devarim: Parashat Ki Tesse: Ki Tesse LaMilhama

Contributed by: R. Ezra Mizrahi

The midrash Yalqout Shimoni changes one word in the first verse of this week's parasha, Ki tese.
"Ki Tese la Milhama Al Oyivecha" - "When you go out to battle [on] your enemies"
"Al Oyivecha" - "[on] your enemies" – the midrash changes to "keneged your enemies" which means, to stand opposite, or against your enemies, instead of the language of the verse "on your enemies".

Why does the Midrash make this change?

Many people are familiar with the famous connection that our Rabbis make regarding the first three events in our parasha. They are:
1) When one goes to battle and lusts for a captive gentile woman, he is permitted to be with her, but is forced to provide for her.
2) When one has two wives, and beloved wife and a hated wife, and the first-born is born to the hated wife, one must not refrain from providing that child with the double inheritance entitled to him under the laws of the first born.
3) If one has a child who is a "ben sorer oumoreh" , a rebellious child who steals, drinks wine and eats meat in a fashion beyond his years, he must hand such a child to the Bet Din for a death penalty.

Our Rabbis connect these three events: If one gives in to his lust and marries this captive woman, she will end up being the "hated" wife, who will end up giving birth to a rebellious son. As Ben Azai explains in Midrash Rabbah, one averah (sin) begets another averah- one sin causes another sin (similar to how one missvah causes another missvah).

However, we must ask: what sin caused the first event? What sin was the soldier guilty of that he did give in to his lust and marry this gentile captive woman?

The answer is: the very fact that the soldier chose to go to war and fight physically was his first sin. There is another way. As the Yalqout hints to us, the first sin was when the Jewish man stood opposite the enemy, and was not "al" above him, meaning to be above him spiritually, not relying solely on fighting but also on the merit of tefilah and limoud Torah.

As Rashi explains of the verse we say daily "Romemot El Begronam, Veherev Piphiyot Beyadam" – "the praises of Hashem is in their throats, and a sword in their hands" – the praise and studying in the mouths of the Jewish people ARE THE SWORDS that would be in their hands.

As we turn to begin a new year, we should realize that as a collective whole, our power is great. We can collectively contribute to the merit of our great nation by understanding that our tefilot and studying of the Torah can only hasten the bringing of the Mashiah.
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