Our Jewish nation may be small in number, but HaShem is on our side, which makes us stronger than the largest, mightiest nations in the entire world. HaShem Ish Milchamah were the words sung by Bnei Yisrael after the Egyptians were defeated at the Splitting of the Sea. It means “HaShem is the warrior” – He is our general. In fact, in the year 1967, tiny Israel defeated their enemies from Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon in just 6 days! (No wonder it was called the “Six-Day War.”)
Thanks to HaShem, Israel’s small army won the war against 5 powerful armies! This was one of the most spectacular victories in the history of warfare.
Our enemies are well aware of this supernatural help of HaShem, so they use a different strategy:
“Get Bnei Yisrael to sin,” they would say. “Let’s have our young, pretty women dress up beautifully during the war which will cause Bnei Yisrael to sin.”
“Great idea! You’re a genius! And once they sin, no longer will their G-d be on their side and winning a war against them will be simple!”
This was the plan of Bilam, back in Parshas Balak. First, he tried cursing Bnei Yisrael, but failed miserably. Then he resorted to Plan #2… get them to sin.
Time for a Parshas Balak Shazak Flashback:
(יד) לכה איעצך – מה לך לעשות. ומה היא העצה, אלהיהם של אלו שונא זמה הוא כו’, כדאיתא בחלק (סנהדרין קו א) תדע שבלעם השיא עצה זו להכשילם בזמה…
Bilam was at his wits’ end. He thought and thought, and suddenly. “I have it!” he told the king. “A plan!”
“Another plan, you say? Don’t tell me it’s a devious, diabolical, deceitful, demonical plan!” said the very frustrated Balak.
“No, I won’t tell you that, Your Majesty,” answered Bilam, trying to sound confident. “But I will tell you that if we cause the Jews to sin, HaShem will have no choice but to punish them!”
“Sin?! Exactly what type of sin are you talking about?”
“Listen, Your Excellency! Jewish men are forbidden to party with non-Jewish women, right?”
“Correct. Partying leads to marrying them – something their G-d forbids. But, what are you getting at?”
“My point is… Let’s have some of our pretty, young women from Moav invite the Jews to come to their party. Then, if – I mean, when the Jews sin, HaShem will definitely punish them!”
“Sounds like a devious, diabolical, deceitful, demonical plan. I like it,” said Balak.
Within no time, the pretty girls from Moav headed toward the Jewish camp.
“Come to our party!” they called out to the Jewish men. “We have fine wine and delicious cake with sprinkles on top!
So, what does this have to do with Parshas Ki Seitzei?
It’s exactly this sensitive subject that Moshe discusses with Bnei Yisrael (and get ready for a big surprise):
“Ki Seitsei LaMilchamah,” Moshe began. “When you go out to war against your enemies, you will be taking captives from their nations. If one of our soldiers sees a beautiful lady captive…”
“Of course, our enemies always put the beautiful ladies in the front lines…”
Moshe continued, “And one of our soldiers would like to marry this captive lady…”
“Then what? Would it then be permitted?”
“What? Marry a non-Jewish woman?!”
Moshe, receiving his orders from HaShem, answered, “Yes. It will be permitted.”
“Permitted?! Am I hearing straight? Did Rabbi Rabbeinu, I mean Moshe Rabbeinu, say ‘permitted’ or ‘prohibited’?”
“If my hearing serves me correctly – I think I heard Moshe Rabbeinu say ‘permitted’.”
Yes. Permitted. But only after fulfilling the following conditions.”
“Conditions?! What sort of conditions?”
“I’ll tell you the conditions. The soldier may take the captive home, but she will cry so much since she misses her family, that she will lose her beautiful appearance. Let this continue for one month’s time.”
“And then what?”
“If, despite her appearance, our soldier still wants to marry her, it’s probably because he sees a wonderful quality within her. Perhaps he senses that her Neshamah (soul) is meant to join Bnei Yisrael.”
“And then it is time for her to convert to Judaism and become his wife.”
Our Sages call this episode “Yefas Toar,” meaning a “beautiful appearance.” It’s perhaps HaShem’s way of telling us to look beyond the external “beautiful appearance” and dig deeper, seeking out the “Yefas To’ar” of one’s inner being – the special Neshamah… the soul.
History books speak of the “100 Years’ War,” the “30 Years’ War,” and many other battles that dragged on and on…and on. But in 1967, in a matter of six short days, the Jewish nation managed to utterly defeat not one, but five powerful enemies!
How did this astonishing victory happen?
Dovid HaMelech was one of our greatest warriors. He held the key to victory. Here is how he describes the secret weapon in Chapter 20 of his Tehillim: “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we call in the name of HaShem, our G-d.”
Indeed, in addition to military efforts, the words of prayer, Torah study and faith in HaShem, are more powerful than any human weapon.
If you’ve ever been at the Western Wall, a.k.a. Kotel HaMa’aravi, a.k.a. Kotel, you would be amazed at how many people from all over the world come to visit and pray at this holy site, the place where the Beis HaMikdash once stood. Not many realize that for 19 years – from 1948 until 1967 – the wall was under Jordanian control and not even one Jew was allowed to visit. Not even one Jew!
All that changed after the Israelis won the Six Day War. From then on, the Kotel is open to all – Jew and Gentile – 24/7. Everybody and anybody is welcome to visit this holy site (as long as they pass the security station).
Every day at the Kotel is an inspirational experience. Jews who have never had the chance to put on Tefillin or perhaps didn’t want to, willingly perform this Mitzvah with the help of Tefillin-wrapper-volunteers at the Kotel Tefillin Booth. And for a truly inspirational Kotel experience, there is nothing like welcoming the Shabbos at the Kotel on Friday evening. And of course, let’s not forget the Kotel-Birkas-Kohanim during the “Three Festivals” (Shalosh Regalim), where hundreds of Kohanim bless the thousands of people. How awesome! How breathtaking! How inspirational!