Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
  The Living Law
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Parshas Ki Seitzei

Yefas Toar: Captivating Beauty

The Mitzvah:

The Jewish soldier who sees a beautiful gentile woman in war, and who desires to take this captive as a wife, is permitted to bring her into his home. But before making her into his wife, she must first cut her hair, clip her nails and don her clothing of captivity while bewailing her father and mother for one month (Deuternomony 21:10-14).

A beautiful symbolical interpretation of this mitzvah, which is of universal relevance, is expounded by the Ohr HaChaim in his Torah commentary.

The going out to war is a reference to birth. Leaving the heavenly realm to descend into this world, a person readies himself to engage in warfare. His life is to be an on-going conflict wrestling with the Yetzer Hara, evil inclination. He is only strong if he is victorious – “Who is the strong one? One who subdues his inclinations” (Avos 4:1).

But this is not a typical or a conventional battle. It is an ongoing, never-ending assault. It is a relentless struggle against a ruthless antagonist who threatens to overwhelm the person. A person cannot afford to hesitate – even momentarily – or let go his guard fearful that the Yetzer Hara, evil inclination may get the better of him. It is a battle to the death. And the stakes are great.

Every person has a spiritual component, as symbolized by the Yefas Toar, “the beautiful woman”. She makes or breaks the man. She is the love of his life insofar as spiritual pursuits are what make everything in life worthwhile. Intrinsically beautiful, the Yefas Toar is nevertheless held “captive” by the evil inclination.

But the soldier succeeds in capturing the Yefas Toar. He demonstrates a willingness to take whatever steps are necessary to “free” this spiritual spark. He wants to rescue this beautiful captive, win her over and incorporate this spiritual component into his divine worship.

Fighting the powerful influence of the evil inclination, he longs to bring her into his house.

However before her 100% integration, all alien ideologies must be eliminated. And for her beauty to shine, all the foreign external trappings must be discarded. This is alluded to in the instructions to cut her hair and clip her nails – a reference to the extraneous components of the human body.

There is therefore a call for Teshuvah, Repentance. The waiting time of a “month” before the soldier is allowed to take her as a wife is an allusion to Elul, the month designated for repentance and returning to G-d just before Rosh Hashanah. During that time the Yefas Toar is to mourn about her father and mother. This is the remorse felt for the spiritual component having departed from her “Heavenly Father” and from the mother- symbol of the “Congregation of Israel”.

May each one of us succeed in rescuing our “captive” spiritual side and use the wonderful month of Elul to be victorious over our Yetzer Hara and achieve complete atonement by coming closer to our Master.


Text Copyright © 2006 by Rabbi Osher Chaim Levene and Torah.org.


 






ARTICLES ON NOACH:

View Complete List

People In Stone Houses Should not Cast Bricks
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5774

Who By Fire, Who By Water
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5766

A Wasted Tragedy
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5762

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

The Meaning of Noach
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5770

Wine and Window Washers
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5770

What Was Noach's Greatest Legacy?
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5772

ArtScroll

Why We Keep Sinning
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5774

Coming to Terms with the World to Come
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5761

In Man's Diminished Image
Rabbi Label Lam - 5770

> Noach - A 'Standard' Tzaddik
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5764

Maybe
Rabbi Label Lam - 5765

A Sobering Lesson
- 5768

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Noach's Lessons for Our Day
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5762

The Best Policy
Rabbi Raymond Beyda - 5765

Sins Committed In Private Ultimately Lead To a Violent Society
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5765

Rabbi Frand on Parshas Noach
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5770



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