Israel Forever

For the week ending 17 September 2005 / 13 Elul 5765

The Enemy Within

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Israel is faced by enemies of all sorts. Terrorist gangs threaten it in the north and south, and even its central cities are on the alert against suicide bombers.

This weeks Torah portion begins with the words When you shall go out to war against your enemy. Torah commentators have pointed out that in addition to the literal meaning of these words regarding a military action against our external enemy, there is a subtle message about waging war against the enemy within us.

This is an enemy as old as time. Whether he takes the form of the serpent in the Garden of Eden tempting the first humans to transgress the command of G-d by eating from the Tree of Knowledge, or it is the evil inclination leading us astray, it is the same enemy bent on having us destroy ourselves. Just as one must properly plan and execute warfare against an external, flesh and blood enemy, so too must he have a proper strategy for dealing with the invisible enemy within.

These are thoughts which we must always bear in mind, but especially in the current month of Elul when Jews prepare themselves for the upcoming Days of Judgment by carefully examining what improvements they have to make in their lives. The most important strategy in the warfare against the enemy within is attacking the source of the problem. The examples are too numerous for one column so we will point out just one of them.

The problem of crime and violence in schools and families cannot be solved with more police and tougher penalties. The root of the problem is the abandonment of traditional Jewish values.

It is our hope that the call to go out to war against the enemy will stir our leaders to attack the root of the problem and reintroduce Jewish values in the educational system in order to guarantee the security of Israel forever.

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