Sunday, 15 August 2021
Today is the seventh day of Elul. The Day of Blowing is getting nearer. Make sure you hear the shofar each day when it is blown! As we move from the portion 'Shoftim' to 'Ki Tetze' (When you go out) Moshe reminds the people of another slew of commandments: most old, some updated and a few new. Included is the procedure for a rebellious son, who must be publicly stoned by all the men of the town becasue he refuses to accept any parental authority. The rabbis say that this was never actually carried out.
The parasha starts with what happens when a soldier wants to marry one of the women captured as prisoners by the army. The first word, 'kiy' is usually translated here by most of the English translations as 'when': "When you go out to war ..." But the word is also translated as 'for' and perhaps that shows us an interesting view of warfare. See the change of emphasis:
for you will go out to war against your enemies, and the L-rd your G-d will give them into your hand.
Now it has a sense of inevitability about it, which more accurately reflects the history of Israel and the Middle East, both in Bible times and even the modern day. It also speaks into the spiritual life as well as the physical.
Peter the Apostle writes, "Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour" (1 Peter 5:8, Bible(NASB)). This is a definite statement of expectation, as is Rav Sha'ul's warning that, "our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:12, Bible(NASB)). Both Kefa and Sha'ul know that there is a battle on, that we will be engaged in warfare against spiritual enemies. Even Yeshua speaks of the certainty of times of trial: "Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin! Such things must come" (Matthew 18:7, Bible(NIV)), or as The Message puts it: "Hard times are inevitable!"
The question for us today is whether we realise we are in a battle. We are, every day. But if you don't know you are supposed to be engaging in that battle, then you will be defeated before you even start.