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Shabbat starts on Friday at 5.34pm and ends on Saturday at 6.33pm. The weekly Torah portion is Ki Teitzei.

Mincha continues at Ainsworth Property – 7/459 Collins St (North Tower), at 1.00pm and we use the WhatsApp group to confirm numbers..

The weekly lunch & shiur continues on Wed at 1.10pm at A-P 7/459 Collins – and via zoom, followed by mincha. Current topic: Sale and hire terms. Details here and on the WhatsApp group.

Thought of the Week with thanks to Benji Jones.

This week’s Torah reading opens with the words “ki teitzei lamilchamah al oyevecha” — “when you will go out to war against your enemy”, but it could have said “ki tilcham im oyevecha” — “when you will be at war with your enemy”. Why does it use a more active form, and what is the difference between the phrases?

This reading is during the month of Elul, the optimal time for doing teshuvah; it is not only discussing a physical war, but is also alluding to man’s spiritual battle. Each person has a yeitzer tov — good inclination — and a yeitzer hara — evil inclination. Each one fights to control our direction, and it is extremely difficult for us to overcome our powerful yeitzer evil inclination We see this in the first section of the reading which discusses the case of a beautiful woman captured at war.

However, our sages (Shabbat 104a) have declared that “haba letaheir mesai’im oto” — “the one who wants to purify himself (improve his ways) is assisted from Heaven.” In encouraging us to do teshuvah, the Torah is assuring us that “ki teitzei lamilchamah” — if you will only resolve to actively go out and wage war “al oyevecha” — “against the enemy” — i.e. the evil inclination — you will surely be victorious because G-d will hand him over to you. This is why the Torah uses this active phrase to “go out to war” rather than passively “being at war”. 

In order to control our evil inclination, and undertake proper teshuva, we need to actively “go out” and pursue ways to return to G-d: through mitzvot, prayer and acts of kindness.

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