“Achos katana … The little sister…. She prepares her prayers and proclaims her praises. Oh
G-d, please heal her ailments. Let the year and its curses conclude!”
What kind of year is coming? This one has been so difficult!
Many of us fear the days and years ahead. The world is staggering.
I saw an article recently about electronic attacks on the computer systems of American cities and towns. We are so vulnerable! The entire world now operates electronically. Everything is so fragile, so far beyond our control. What happens if the system fails, either through accident or malice? Who can fix it?
My friends, we need to know that “ain od milvado … there is none beside Him!” (Deuteronomy 4:35)
“In the period which will precede the coming of Moshiach … Upon what … can we lean? [Only] upon our Father in Heaven!” (Sota 49b)
Rabbi Yehuda Schiff showed me the words of the Or Hachaim on Parshas Ki Seitzei, where he discusses the “aishes y’fas to’ar … the woman of beautiful form.” (Deuteronomy 21:11) Following the approach of “remez,” the Or Hachaim explains that this refers to the beautiful soul of man which has been captured by our enemy, the Evil Inclination.
When we leave the Upper World to come to this world, we must be “prepared for battle….” According to Or Hachaim, “This, [even more than physical warfare,] is [accurately] called a battle, [for it requires greater effort than physical warfare. This is] in accordance with that which [the Sages] say (Ethcis of the Fathers 4:1) ‘Who is mighty? He who conquers his yetzer hara,’ for [in fact] there is no mightier feat than this.”
I once thought that a person can have peace in this world. Before I became observant, I joined the “peace movement” during the Vietnam War. But, no matter how much I demonstrated and distributed pamphlets, there was no peace at all. There was no peace in my life until I discovered Shabbos. On the day in which we are one with Hashem, there is a taste of peace in this world.
Why is the last blessing in Shemoneh Esreh “shalom?”
My friends, shalom comes at the end. The Or Hachaim is telling us that life is a continuous battle, in which, “if [a person] will relax [even for a moment], the enemy will rise up and strike him dead!” If we expect peace, then we are in mortal danger.
This season is wholly devoted to teshuva, repentance. This is a fight for our lives. Our embrace of the King, our submission to the King, our obedience to the King will determine life or death. We must redeem our beautiful soul from the clutches of the enemy!
But Or Hachaim reassures us that, if we recognize the battle and fight the battle, then, “although the [yetzer hara] is stronger than the human power, Hashem will nonetheless deliver him into our hand.”
Rabbi Moshe Sternbuch once told me, “Yisroel, you are a soldier, and you must go where the battle is!”
May Hashem soon lead us to victory. “Let the year and its blessings begin!”