Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Parshas Shoftim

To Be Exalted - Not Halted

By Rabbi Label Lam

When you go out to war against your enemy, and you see horses and chariots - a people more numerous than you – you should not fear them---for HASHEM your
G-d, is with you, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt. (Devarim 20:1)

How can the Torah legislate emotions here? What does the Torah realistically expect of us? Are we to just shut down the raging river of emotions we feel at a given moment? Isn’t it only reasonable to expect that someone who confronts a ferocious looking enemy should experience fear?

Years ago I was learning early in the morning Chovos HaLevavos. A statement we read penetrated my heart. Maybe it was the clarity of thought that comes with the morning hours or maybe it was the strong coffee, “Nobody can help you or hurt you unless it comes directly from HASHEM!” HASHEM is One and there is no other. There are no independent forces in the universe. In an inspired instant I sensed the world to be one seamless block of reality.

Later that same day I went to the Bronx to meet a lawyer for the purpose of learning some Talmud. In the shadow of Yankee Stadium on the Grand Concourse near by the ever so busy criminal courthouse I attempted to find a parking place. Blocks away I finally found parking. However every building was burnt out like a war zone. The only other car on the block was hoisted onto milk crates, missing wheels and many other vital parts, like a carved turkey. I was nearly late and since my car was not so nice I took a calculated risk and parked right there.

As I stepped out and headed down the street with my big Talmud in hand around the corner turned three tough looking hoodlum types. I saw them seeing me seeing them seeing me seeing them. I thought to go back but I was already too far from the car. I knew that they instinctively smell fear. I thought to casually cross the street but they might think I had money or diamonds. That too would be in an invitation. I had no choice but to keep going forward. I suddenly flashed back to the morning session. “Nobody can help you or hurt you unless it comes directly from HASHEM”. HASHEM is One! HASHEM is my shepherd. There is none other. I found myself in the most sublime state of mind.

As the sound of their voices rapping, rapidly approached, I was ready for anything. Gemora in hand, I felt ready to surrender my life and even fantasized about Rabbi Akiva and the good company I might find myself amongst. As they passed, not only did nothing happen but I could hear clearly a brief snippet of their live-jive, with a staccato-Spanish cadence, one was saying to the others, “If G-d don’t want something to happen to you, man, it’s not gonna happen!” Wow! Where did that come from?

The Baal Shem Tov writes, “All the fears that a person experiences even of wild animals are directed by HASHEM to frighten the person so that he should remember to fear HASHEM and if the person is wise he will meditate on this and nothing he fears will harm him…” The verse does not say to nullify or squelch a fear, rather it says, “You should not fear them! Such feelings are to be exalted not halted!


Text Copyright © 2005 by Rabbi Label Lam and Torah.org.


 

ARTICLES ON KI SISA AND PURIM:

View Complete List

Cloned Stone
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5763

In Command of Redemption
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5765

The Generous of Spirit He will be Blessed
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5771

> Shabbat Precedes the Building of the Mishkan
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5771

Appreciate It While You Have It
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5763

Allusions and Illusions
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5761

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Triple Purim?
- 5768

Raise Me Up
Shlomo Katz - 5768

Terrorist Threat
Rabbi Raymond Beyda - 5766

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Follow the Leader
Rabbi Shlomo Jarcaig - 5763

Oh No! Not DeNILE Again!
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5766

Irreversible Changes
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5760

ArtScroll

Did Esther Succeed
Rabbi Label Lam - 5769

Washing Hands
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5766

Sanctifying Through The Physical
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5759

Two Types of Shabbat
Shlomo Katz - 5763



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information