Seeking the Holy Presence in Our Holy Land
“כי תצא למלחמה על אויבך”
“Speedily cause the shoot of Your servant David to grow… Blessed are You HaShem Who causes the glory of salvation to grow.”
‘Growing’, the gradual process, is one of the more dominant themes of our future redemption. Indeed, so do our Sages teach us that ‘the redemption of Israel will be this – little by little at first, but as it continues it gradually increases.’ In a process it is crucial to know the goal one aspires to and with the same token to be aware of where one is situated in the process, and thereby plan detailed and practical steps towards reaching the ultimate goal. Thus, when we set our goal as the ‘glory of salvation’ of God through the ‘shoot of Your servant David’, i.e the Mashiah, we need to clarify what is the detailed and practical meaning of ‘Mashiah’.
At the end of the ‘Mishneh Torah’ Rambam defines ‘Mashiah’ as a king who will return the royalty to the house of David, will build the Bais HaMikdash, and will ingather the exiles. Defining Mashiah as a king requires us to seek the halachic definition of a king. Halacha defines that if this leader is a descendant of David and is righteous he may automatically be king. If this leader is not a descendant of David but is ordained by a prophet ‘and goes in the ways of the Written and Oral Torah and fights the wars of HaShem’ then he is also rendered a king. The latter two conditions of a king, i.e. going in the ways of the Torah and fighting the wars of God, are echoed again in Rambam as being the only motives in appointing a king in Israel – 1. justice, i.e. the enforcement of the ways and laws of the Torah 2. fighting the wars of God. What are ‘the wars of God’?
Rambam codifies these wars into 4 types, 3 mandatory and the latter optional: 1. ‘the war on the [Land of] (compare to 4 and see Sifri end of Ekev and Taanit 44b) the 7 [Canaanite] nations’, 2. ‘the war on Amalek’, 3. ‘war to save Israel from foes’, 4. ‘the war on other nations to extend the Land of Israel etc.’ It is clear from our Sages that even the last optional type of war is also ‘the war of God’, for halacha stipulates that even in this war a Jewish soldier is uniquely permitted, as in ‘the laws of war’, to marry a non-Jewish woman for a limited period of time, as we are told in the beginning of this week’s parsha, a matter that is usually considered one of the highest offences against God in the Torah.
When we, as the people of our future king, take strides, as little as they may seem, towards the keeping and enforcement of the laws of the Torah and towards ‘fighting the wars of God’ (as in settling the Land (compared to war – see our first issue Hayei Sara) and supporting the security of Israel), we give power to our future king, the Mashiah, upon who it is said (Isaiah 11): ‘and a sprout shall grow out of the trunk of Jesse’. This is the spirit of Hebron, burial place of Jesse, the sprouting place of Mashiah.
Real Stories from the Holy Land #86:
“Last Motzei Shabbos I travelled from Northern Israel about 4 hours so I could be ready to teach children Torah, when almost all schools are on vacation, at 8:20 in Kiryat Arba, but I got detained in Jerusalem and slept there. I tried to reach the principal of the Talmud Torah to tell him I would be late in order to find a substitute, but my phone’s battery power was exhausted. I asked for help to make the call, but was not successful in reaching the principal. When I got off a bus to switch to the next bus on the way to Kiryat Arba, one person told me that he found 200 NIS last night and asked HaShem to help him know what to do with it, and now he decided to give it to me, subsequently giving me the cash. Without hesitation I took a cab for 200 NIS from Jerusalem to the area of Kiryat Arba and arrived for the first hour in the Talmud Torah.” (M.A.Y)
Sources: Rambam Mlachim veMilchamot ch. 1 and ch. 5 also ch. 4, 10, first Rashi of parsha