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The Struggle, The War!

Friday, 28 August, 2015 - 8:24 am

By Rabbi Ezzy Schusterman - Los Altos Chabad

Thank goodness we feel relatively safe here in our wonderful cocoon of Maryland. When we talk of war & enemies we think of another century or another country. Yet, every word of Torah is relevant and meaningful to each and every one of us.

What is the message in this week’s Torah portion when it says “When you go out to war on your enemies, the L‑rd your G‑d shall deliver them into your hands and you shall capture from them captives.” (Deut 21:10) While thankfully we don't literally go and fight enemies each day, we do fight many a war throughout the day!

Did you fight fatigue in order to pry your eyes open this morning? Did you fight the mad traffic jam to navigate to work? At the office, did you fight laziness to climb the stairs instead of riding the elevator? Did you fight lethargy to focus on the tasks at hand? Did you fight the clock to meet your deadline? Did you fight your cravings to avoid unhealthy snacks and choose nourishing food?

Every day, every hour, every minute, we wage countless battles.

The Torah doesn’t write, if you go out to war, but rather when. Turbulence and struggle is inevitable.

We fight real wars just as we fight moral one. We fight character traits just as we struggle to use our time wisely and develop our talents fully. We battle to protect loved ones from the harsh realities of our world and to create a better reality.

Here are 3 important things to know about your wars.

1. Your battles don’t define you.

The Hebrew phrase al ovecha, "on your enemies," literally means "on top of your enemies." Just because we are constantly engaged in struggle doesn’t mean that we are defined by them. We win and inevitably we lose. Don’t focus on your losses; you are far  more than your conflicts. You have a divine soul that is perfect and untarnished in spite of your struggles. So just get back up, re-energized and begin anew.

2. You are not fighting alone.

When your battles become oppressive, when your enemy gains the upper hand, you may need to take a step back and reevaluate. Affirm that there is no true existence other than G‑d. This means that nothing contrary to G‑d’s goodness and truth has any real power over you. Go to war with the optimistic confidence that "G‑d shall deliver them into your hands,” in order to succeed.

3. You can grow from your experience.

“You shall capture from them captives.” Anything negative in man or in the world can be exploited for the good. You were exposed to your circumstances for a reason. “Capture captives” and find a lesson in every situation.

Wishing us all strength and victory in fighting our many battles!

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

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