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Perashat Ki Tesse 5777

Home > Rabbi's Weekly Message > Perashat Ki Tesse 5777

Perashat Ki Tesse 5777

Friday, September 01, 2017 Author: Rabbi Mimoun Miller

This week's perasha opens with the words, "When you will go to war against your enemies, and Hashem, your G-d, will deliver him into your hand, and you will capture his captivity." Rabbi Yosef Haim Azulay, the Hida, notes that the pasuk starts with speaking about going to war against "enemies" in plural, but then switches to singular form, "Hashem... will deliver him into your hands."

The Hida brings forth a wonderful insight. In the simple sense, these pesukim deal with going to war against a natural enemy, but on a deeper level, this pasuk can be interpreted as teaching us how to wage war against a spiritual enemy, the Yesser Hara.

The Yesser Hara is an angel of Hashem. According to the Hida, he has three names depending upon his assignment at the time. Yesser Hara is the name he is given when he tries to entice people to sin. He is called Satan when he appears before the heavenly court at a time when we are most vulnerable, giving damaging testimony against us. [From Gen. Rabbah 91:9] Lastly, he is referred to ominously as Malach Hamavet, the Angel of Death. After giving condemning testament, he also executes the decree, pain, suffering and even death.

With cunning, the Yesser Hara causes our very own appendages like our eyes, heart, hands and feet, to make us succumb to sin. Our limbs become like prisoners in his hands, causing them to work against ourselves. We are tasked with overcoming both an enemy that entices us with guile and relies on our human fragilities to lapse. 

Nonetheless, Hashem promises us that if we oppose our Yesser Hara through introspection and desire to do His will, living life according to his guidance, then "Hashem will deliver him into our hands." As the pasuk continues, we will also "capture his captivity," meaning, not only are you capable of defeating the Yesser Hara, but also your body's limbs that were "captured" by him. In essence, you may "capture" them back and return them as loyal servants of Hashem.

Although the Yesser Hara is an angel and we are merely flesh and blood, only Hashem has the power to help those who wish to defeat these evil inclinations, and there is nothing that could stand in the face of the strength of the Almighty. The Yesser Hara may make one feel as if the obstacles he presents cannot be overcome. However, in this pasuk in our perasha, Hashem reveals a secret. The outcome of the battle is not decided in advance. We all have the ability, with Hashem's help, to get up, fight and win!

During this month of Elul, we reflect on how we can do Teshuba. Teshuba literally means "to return." The way to return one's hijacked limbs is through using them to perform Holy matters. Eyes that have seen obscene images may be restored through reading words of Torah. Legs that have hurried to commit forbidden actions may be rescued by running to Bet Hakeneset, to Shiurim and to do Hesed.

When one wins his battle against the Yesser Hara, he reclaims control over his urges and desires, and thus gains true freedom. Such a person merits to lead a good life in this world and in the next.

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