8 Elul 5783 – 25 August 2023
“When you go out to war against your enemies, and Hashem your G-d delivers them into your hand, and you take their captives”.
On a personal level, this refers to our war against our Yetzer Hara (inner adversary) – the urges and base instincts that we battle on a daily basis. According to Rabbi Isaiah HaLevi Horowitz, the Shelah HaKadosh, if you go out to war against your Yetzer Hara, Hashem will give you victory. This is because the one who takes the initiative to improve and purify himself will receive divine support and assistance (Talmud Shabbat 104a).
When this happens, he will be able to take captives – to recapture the prisoners that the Yetzer Hara took from him. This means, according to the Shelah, that his sins will be transformed into merits. For according to our sages, when we return to Hashem out of love, this kind of repentance can transform sins into merits (Talmud Yoma 86b).
The goal, ultimately, is not to kill the Yetzer Hara, but to take it captive and marshal its power to positive ends. Imagine the energy that we put into so many things we regret afterward and directing it to inner growth, acts of lovingkindness, prayer, and study.
By Rabbi Michael Skobac
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