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Parshas Ki Seitzei

All Israel!

By Rabbi Label Lam

    When you go out to war against your enemies and HASHEM your G-d will deliver them into your hands and you will capture its captivity. (Devarim 21:10)

    The Torah only speaks versus the “negative inclination” (Rashi)

    If it wouldn’t be that HASHEM helps him (against his “negative inclination”) he would not be able to win. (Sukkah 52B)

    With strategies you should wage for yourself war. (Mishlei 24:6)

The Sefas Emes offers a winning strategy for being successful against the negative inclination. Leading with the opening line from above, “When you go out to war against your enemies…” he then quotes the Midrash … “Don’t go out except with a camp…” What does the Midrash add to the equation? What does it help to out to war as part of a camp, a group?

The Sefas Emes explains, “Even though each and every individual needs to battle his own Yetzer Hora- “negative inclination”, still it should be that his war should be conducted through entering himself into Klal Yisrael- All of Israel. And his intention should be that Klal Yisrael should be triumphant in their Wars for the sake of HASHEM. Since the victory of the entire group is dependent upon the success of the individual- then the power of the community accompanies him in his battle. Even according to the explanation of the sages that says that “camp” refers to the limbs of the person, this is also true! Because in every detail of the person there is the power of the whole, that’s called a microcosm- a miniature universe. Therefore to the extent that a person includes and unifies all of his 248 limbs together in common purpose so he will be more fitting to enter himself into and be included in Klal Yisrael!”

If that’s not clear enough, let’s consider the following as an instructive analogy constructed from biological facts. There are about 100 trillion cooperative cells that comprise the average adult human being. Six billion steps of DNA are contained in a single cell. That is 6 billion pieces of information in each and every cell. How big is this library? This DNA can be stretched six feet, but it is coiled up in the cell's nucleus, which measures only 1/2500 of an inch in diameter. Every cell contains the entire plan of the whole person, yet each cell runs dutifully to perform its individual task. One cell works as part of the pituitary gland and another serves as one of 7 million cones for the eye to process color. Over the course of 7 seven years all the cells in the body are cycled out and replaced except for the brain cells. The DNA includes the schedule of growth and decline for the duration of the entirety of the life of the person. Therefore in a 70 year life, cells from the first 10 years are loyally playing their part in preparation for the replacement crew that will only arrive 63 years or 9 generations later. If any cell or group of cells would take a rebellious stance against the greater structure they would be threatening the well-being of the entire body and ultimately itself or themselves.

What is the proper intention of each cell in the human being? Is it not to do its individual job with knowledge that it is a working functioning part of a greater whole?! Is not the actual survival and success of that cell dependent upon the survival and success of the body as a whole? When the body dies, when the soul departs, then the cells are homeless, unemployed and left to decompose. Any act for the whole is an affirmation of life for the part which upholds the whole.

Are we not also parts of a grander historical plan? Rabbi Avigdor Miller ztl. said about the Mishne in Sanhedrin, “All of Israel have a share in the world to come…” … “That is only if they are a part of “All Israel!”.

DvarTorah, Copyright © 2007 by Rabbi Label Lam and



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