“When you will go out to war against your enemies and Hashem your G-d will deliver them into your hands and you will take your captives.” Devarim 21:10
The Toras Moshe explains that this pasuk is figuratively describing the ceaseless battle with our eternal foe, our evil inclination. The Gemara in Kedushin states, “The evil inclination of a man struggles to overcome him every single day and if it were not for Hashem’s helping Hand, he would not be able to withstand the test”. It is true that with Hashem’s help we will win the daily fights, however, it is extremely difficult to withstand our Yetzer Hara and one may understandably throw his hands up in defeat. That is why the Torah tells us in this week’s Parsha, ״כי תצא״ – when you will go out to war against your enemy. All you need to do is go out, just start the war, spark the fight, show Hashem that you want to be good and are loath to fall into the dirty traps of the Yetzer Hara, and then you can rest assured, ״ונתנו ד׳ אלוקיך בידך״ – Hashem will provide support from the Heavens to help you succeed, for as we know, ״הבא לטהר מסייעין אותו״ – “one who strives to become pure, will receive Heavenly aid in his quest.”
The Baal Shem Tov teaches, in the hour that you wage war against your perpetual nemesis, the evil-inclination, you should learn from his ways. Look how he lurches towards the battle with alacrity and how he fights you to the death with hardheaded determination to make you fail and take you captive. Take your cue from him and fight back with the same strength and vigor!
The Kedushas Levi uses this concept to explain the pasuk in Tehillim ״מאויבי תחכמני מצוותיך כי לעולם היא לי״ – From my enemy- my evil inclination, I learned how to keep Torah and Mitzvos. When we see how eagerly people race towards sin which provides only a fleeting pleasure, we should think to ourselves, how much more so should we be running to fulfill a mitzvah whose reward is ultimate and everlasting.
It’s still Elul, the clock is ticking. Time to beat up on our Yetzer Hara and be meticulous in our fulfillment of the mitzvos.