Translated and adapted by Moshe-Yaakov Wisnefsky, for
"The Chumash of the Lubavitcher Rebbe"
you go to war
you shall sound a teruah
The war we are constantly fighting is the allegorical
war against our evil inclination. This fight is particularly intense
during prayer, when the evil inclination tries to distract us from concentrating
on G-d and deepening our relationship with Him.
The allegorical "trumpet" we sound in order
to enlist God's help against the evil inclination is our heart-broken
cry, the silent tears we shed over being so spiritually weak that we
are vulnerable to the evil inclination's strategies. When we beseech
G-d to have mercy on us, He comes to our aid and rescues us from our
But we see here that we must blow the trumpets not only
while in the thick of battle, but also when we have overcome the enemy,
and even on joyous festivals. Blowing the trumpets on these occasions
reminds us that our victory over the evil inclination is never final
and we should never let our success get the better of us.1 The evil
inclination is always devising new ways to ensnare us, and we must be
constantly on guard, constantly enlisting God's help and mercy.
The sacrifices mentioned here reflect the two basic stages
in how we approach G-d. ("Drawing close" to G-d is the literal
meaning of the Hebrew word for "sacrifice"--korban.)
The first stage is the ascent-offering, whose meat and
fat is totally consumed on the altar. First, we must submit ourselves
totally to G-d. The second stage is the peace-offering, part of whose
meat is eaten by those who offer it. After we have established the basis
of total submission to G-d, we can (and should) enhance our relationship
with Him by understanding as much about Him and His will as we can,
igniting our enthusiasm for the Torah and its commandments.
In our daily lives, the dynamic of the ascent-offering
is expressed in our morning prayers, the basis for the rest of the day.
In prayer, we surrender our sense of self and cling devotedly to G-d.
The dynamic of the peace-offering is expressed as we pursue our personal
affairs throughout the day, always bearing in mind that all we do must
be done for the sake of heaven and in order to enhance our Divine consciousness.
(1) The word for "blowing", teruah, is related to the
word for "arousal"--hitorerut-Ed.
[Adapted from Likutei Sichot, vol. 13, pp. 28-29,
based on Shenei Luchot HaBerit on this passage.]
Copyright 2001 chabad of california / www.lachumash.org
Rabbi Moshe Yaakov Wisnefsky is a scholar, writer, editor
and anthologist. Originally from Los Angeles, he moved to Israel in
1977, and currently lives in Jerusalem. While living in Tsfat, he was
one of the three founders of ASCENT in 1983.