A Beautiful Army

Friday, 22 January, 2021 - 10:31 am

In this week’s Torah portion, when reading about the Exodus, the children of Israel are called Tzivos Hashem, (literally the legions or army of Hashem). The root of Tzivos is Tzava, which we usually define as army or military legion, as in Tzahal – Tzeva Hagana L’Yisrael – Israeli Defense Force.

However, when we dig deeper into the etymology of the word, we find two other possible applications of Tzava. One (taken from Job 7:1) is a designated time or limited context. The second is related to the word Tzivyon – which means beauty or harmony.

Chassidus takes the three applications of the word and fuses them into a lesson for us in our service of Hashem.

The defining trait of a soldier is discipline. Translated into Jewish life this is what we call Kabbolas Ol – obedience to Hashem. A soldier knows that they must have heightened focus on carrying out the orders of the Commander regardless of their personal mood or opinion on the matter at hand.

Furthermore, the instructions must be carried out with precision and attention to every detail. For example, lighting Shabbat candles on Wednesday or even Friday night after sundown, is not carrying out the orders of the commander. We have to be attentive to the designated times and detailed circumstances included in the orders. It also teaches us that the our way of connecting to Hashem, is through the Mitzvahs as they are carried out in a practical fashion – within the parameters of time/space – in other words, regular everyday life.

Finally in order for an army to be successful, there must be a harmony and unity amongst the ranks. This is why we begin our morning prayers by taking upon ourselves to fulfill the Mitzvah to “Love your fellow as yourself.” When we are in harmony and feel connected to each other, the success of our mission is guaranteed.

Hashem is very invested in our success on the battlefield of life. In fact, He directs significant resources toward our path to victory. Sometimes it comes to us in the form of material resources. At times it comes to us as a new custom in Jewish practice or a discovery in the area of Torah development. At times it comes in the form of an inspiring general – a Jewish leader who is capable of uplifting the morale and energy of the troops.

This Shabbat is the 10th of Shevat, marking 71 years since the passing of the previous Lubavitcher Rebbe and 70 years since his successor and son-in-law, our Rebbe, formally assumed the leadership of Chabad. Like real generals the Rebbes devoted themselves to boosting the morale of Hashem’s army and infusing us with renewed energy and devotion to the cause. May we finally realize the ultimate victory – the final redemption through the coming of Mashiach.

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

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