Updated: Sep 8
Having in mind what many of our rabbis said that “preparation
for a Mitzvah is a Mitzvah [in itself]”, it’s important we set up our
mindset straight for the coming High Holidays. Hashem, in his
awesome compassion towards us, paves the way every year so we
can “score high” on Rosh Hashana, so let’s get some more chizuk
(strenghtening) for the coming month!
The beautiful captive analogy
The Arizal gives a fascinating chiddush on how a person can
come in touch with his soul, based on the Mitzvah of Yisha Yefat To’ar
(the beautiful [captive] woman). When waging war, a Jewish soldier
was permitted to have relations with a woman of the enemy side.
Let’s not delude ourselves here, the Jewish army of old was
composed of Tzaddikim of the highest calibre. They didn’t just
“desire” women, but rather saw in them a holy spark that needed to
be redeemed through this special Mitzvah involving intercourse. In
fact, they barely saw a female body, and their desire for holiness
compelled them to act solely for the sake of Heaven. The same goes
for Shlomo HaMelech, who had 300 concubines and 700 married
women from around the world. He didn’t “desire women”, but had a
much loftier goal of dominating all the nations and becoming
Mashiach, but that’s a story for another article.
The Torah writes that the woman should be taken to the
soldier’s home, “to weep for her father and her mother for a month”.
The Arizal explains that “going out to war” means beginning the
process of Teshuva when a person fights against his Yetzer HaRah.
Then, when a person finds this “beautiful woman”, it’s actually his
own soul which was trapped in the domain of impurities! The
monthly period of wait corresponds to the month of Elul, where the
woman (the soul) has to shave her hair off (which is abandoning her
false beliefs) and cut her nails (which is like cutting the indulgence in
pleasures). Finally, when the Torah writes that “she will be your
wife”, it actually means that the soul will reveal and guide the
penitent to a higher path.
Doing Teshuva is for our benefit
The above lesson is a powerful reminder of what the month of
Elul is all about. Each of us must turn inside and search deep within
to find what we missed, where our soul has gone to. Doing Teshuva
and redirecting our desire towards Hashem can be incredibly
energizing if we put our effort in it, as the Ba’alei Mussar (masters of
self-discipline) teach us.
Commenting on the verse “and Yosef was the ruler of the
Land”, Rabbi Yeisa in the Zohar (188a) connects it to the verse “and
now my head will be lifted above my enemies around me” from
Psalm 27 which we recite in Elul. He teaches us that when Hashem is
pleased with someone, he lifts him above those that hate him. This
happened to Yosef and David who were hated by their brothers. The
word in bold “now” (ve’ata) can also be read with an aleph instead of
ayin, spelling “and you”.
Rabbi Yehuda who was with Rabbi Yeisa added that “and now”
refers to a really high level, which corresponds to the letter Heh (ה) of
the name -Y-H-V-H-.
The lesson is that when a person can withstand the adversities
and do proper Teshuvah, he can then be lifted up above his enemies,
whether they be spiritual or physical! Let’s also remember that the
Arizal teaches that doing Teshuva entails lifting up the Shechina
(symbolized by the letter ה of the Holy name Y-H-V-H) from the lower
worlds to it’s source. The same happens to a person’s Nefesh, which
is trapped in the domain of impurity begins to receive new divine
The Psalm 27 is thus teaching us the supreme importance of
doing Teshuva. And as we know, we don’t need to do it all alone, but
we can all get some help from the Tzaddikim.
New opportunities for Prayer Trek
The Zohar writes that, were it not for the prayers of Tzaddikim,
the world could not be sustained a single moment. The Talmud
writes that the Tzaddikim, in their lifetime, can effect salvations even
more than during their period of physical existence.
They are constantly praying for us and the Arizal teaches us
that we can also receive their blessings by visiting their Kever. In
Sha’ar Ruach HaKodesh, he writes that the more one rectifies oneself,
the more one can establish a connection with the Tzaddikim. It is also
in the nature of the Tzaddik to be compassionate and bestow
everything they can upon honest and good-hearted people.
For those that can’t travel to them (and even those who can!)
I’m happy to announce that we will be doing a special prayer trek
“marathon” on the month of Elul for the sake of our members! If you
want to form a bond with the Tzaddikim, get special Syata
Di’Shemaya (heavenly help), make sure to join the coming prayer
treks in Women Emuna Builders!
The month of Elul is an incredible opportunity that needs to be
grabbed with all our strength! We should derive inspiration and help
from the Tzaddikim to make the most out of this truly special time!
This article was written and published in the zechut of all Emuna Builder Partners. May they have complete emuna and continue spreading emuna!