Israel Forever

For the week ending 10 July 2004 / 21 Tammuz 5764

The Enemy Within

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

The occasional problems Israels security forces encounter with Israeli Arabs serve as a frightening reminder of the enemies within our borders who share the dream of the Palestinian Arabs of destroying the Jewish State.

There is, however, another enemy within that may be even a greater threat to our security.

In the Mussaf (additional) Service we recite on Rosh Chodesh we speak of the sacrifices offered in the Beit Hamikdash on this day, recalling that they served as a "saving of souls from the enemy". Who is this enemy that our sacrifices in the past, and our prayers which serve as "virtual sacrifices" today, protect us against?

A most insightful answer to this question is provided by Rabbi Yehuda Halevi, author of the major Torah philosophical work "Hakuzari" and many poetic masterpieces that have been incorporated into special services. The enemy, he writes, is the yetzer hara, the evil inclination that tempts us to follow our passions rather than the commands of G-d. This is a dangerous enemy who leads us to self-destruction. The sacrifices offered on Rosh Chodesh and our prayers today supply the spiritual energy needed to overcome this enemy.

As we read this Shabbat in our weekly Torah portion about these Rosh Chodesh sacrifices, we will hopefully reflect on the message they communicate about the real enemy within us whom we must subdue in order to protect Israel forever.

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