Erev Shabbos Parshas Ki Seitzei 5780

A gitten erev Shabbos everyone! This week’s parsha is Parshas Ki Seitzei. There’s a well known chassidishe vort on the opening words of the parsha, “כי תצא למלחמה,” (for when you go out to war) that explains this to refer to the time of eating, because the word for war “Milchomo” has the word “Lechem,” meaning bread, in it. There are many divrei Torah from various rebbes about the importance of sanctifying oneself in the time of eating, since that time is a time of fighting with the Yetzer Hara, and also a great time for accomplishing Tikkunim. The Ateres Tzvi once said “When I was young I asked the Aibishter that I should be able to effect yeshuos (salvations) through my eating. Now I ask that I should be able to effect the same yeshuos I do through eating with my davening!” There are various kavonnos involved in eating, practices such as davening or learning during the meal or snack so as to facilitate the elevation of the holy sparks trapped in the Klippah Nogah of kosher food, and various other ideas. There is a mitzvah brought in the next verse that many find troubling, that is the Eishes Y’fas Toar, that is the attractive woman who a man encounters in war and decides to claim her as his wife. She has to shave her head, let her nails grow out, and allowed to sit for a whole month to mourn her family being killed. The Baal HaTurim explains that the phrase in Hebrew meaning literally “Lunar days” shows that as the moon is considered lacking compared to the sun, so is this captured foreign woman compared to a Bas Yisroel. Rashi’s first p’shat explains that the Torah is only speaking in regards to the Yetzer Hara, so these halochos were practically not implemented with actual women, rather it’s for us to learn how to treat the yetzer and grow disgusted with it. If something looks at first very appealing and like it would be a great benefit to have, though it may not be proper to utilize, we are to visualize it as becoming disgusting, specifically through the growing the fingernails, which Rashi brings in regards to that aspect rather than the shaving of the woman’s head. Long fingernails are highly discouraged according to Kabbalah, since they are considered connected to Klippah since the Cheit Etz HaDaas; so what this means for our purposes in fighting the Yetzer HaRa is to realize the degree of Klippah entwined with whatever our desire is, whether it is permitted or forbidden, and become disgusted with it from there.One could ask, “How does this practically work within the structures of Chassidus as taught by the Baal Shem Tov and Reb Tzadok HaKohen, along with many other rebbes, who didn’t teach hyper-asceticism? Aren’t we supposed to be moderate, קדש עצמך במותר לך, to be sanctified through what’s permitted and using it properly?” The real question comes out to be how to implement the above concepts and still be able to elevate the sparks from this world. In the end, it becomes permissible to marry the Eishes Y’Fas Toar if the man goes through the whole process and still finds her beautiful and worth it in the end. She converts to Judaism and they can live together. While Rashi does say that he’ll come to hate her eventually, since this section is close to that of dealing with the man with two wives, one hated and one beloved wherein the hated wife has the first son who must receive the greater share of inheritance, we can interpret this by accepting the “stumah” between the sections and view them as separate matters.When faced with a desire for something forbidden, we have to view it mamesh like it’s disgusting and evil so we will be certain to avoid it completely. Those things are completely tied with the Klippos HaTameios, the entirely impure husks, as the Baal HaTanya speaks of. Those desires that are permissible are connected with the Klippah Nogah, the Shining Klippah, which the souls of geirim are also connected to. Through realizing that a desire for something other than a mitzvah may not be perfectly good, and holding off from fulfilling that desire until the coarseness of it is realized, the Klippah surrounding that desire can be broken and the sparks elevated. This is hinted to by the fact that the Eishes Y’fas Toar would have to convert to Judaism after going through the month long mourning period in order to get married. Just as Jews are only in Golus so as to bring in geirim from all corners of the world, so are we only in the Golus of physical manifestation in order to elevate all the sparks trapped within the Klippah Nogah through performing mitzvos and enjoying those things permitted to us by the Torah. The Ramchal is very clear that the nature of Gashmiyus (physicality) is darkness and coarseness, and that the only true good is Ruchniyus (spirituality). Our goal through all of this must ultimately be to wipe out Amalek, as this mitzvah is brought at the very end of the parsha to not forget what Amalek did to us and to wipe them out. Though now we do not know who the folk of Amalek are, we do know from our mesorah that Amalek is a spiritual force, a manifestation of the Sitra Achra, that attempts to destroy Klal Yisroel at all times and remove us from Emunah Shleimah, true faith in Hashem. The key to destroying Amalek is through keeping the fire of Torah and Avodas Hashem burning all the time, since Amalek is a cooling force, so we have to fight back with fire. In order to even begin to understand how to sanctify our daily existence and fill it with simcha and the flames of Ahavas Hashem, we have to learn Chassidus. That is the beginning. To grow further and understand how these things work better, and to weaken the power of Amalek, we have to spend time learning Zohar and Tikkunim, as brought by the Tzaddikim of the past several hundred years. It says that the Geulah will ultimately be brought about through the Torah of Rashbi, that being the Zohar. I’d like to encourage everyone to start learning a daf Zohar every day, so as to sweeten the judgments that we are dealing with in this time of preparing for the Geulah. In the merit of learning Zohar and Chassidus, and serving Hashem with joy and love, we should merit to see Eliyahu HaNavi and Moshiach swiftly.

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