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G-d will defeat the enemies of the Jewish people

This week’s Torah portion shows the need for G-d’s help in confrontations, both against physical enemies and against the evil inclination.

By Joseph Frager


It is very important to point out that G-d, Almighty will constantly defeat the enemies of Israel.

Parshat Mishpatim could not be clearer on the subject. “I shall send MY FEAR before you and I shall confound the entire people among you shall come; and I shall make all of your enemies turn the back of the neck to you.

“I shall send the hornet-swarm before you and it shall drive away the Hivvite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite before you.”(23:27-28) What is the “Tzirah” (“hornet- swarm”)?  Why is the “Tzirah” important? Why does G-d use the “Tzirah” to fight our enemies? Is the “Tzirah” of today possibly Iron Dome, the Arrow Missile or the F16 Fighter Jet? Could G-d be alluding to these weapons when mentioning the “Tzirah”? To answer the last question first, it is quite possible that G-d indeed was alluding to these weapons to defeat our enemies.

But, it is much deeper than simply having these advanced weapons. They are vital and important and just as G-d took us out of Egypt “on the wings of eagles” (19:4) which is a metaphor, so too he will defeat our enemies with the “hornet swarm” which is a metaphor. The Ramban does not look at it metaphorically. The Ramban says (23:28), “And G-d said that just as He would “provide a beneficial sign” (Psalms 86:17) for the Israelites, so would he provide signs for their enemies to their detriment, namely that He would give them a “trembling heart” (Deut.28:65), “dread indoors” (Deut.32:25) and furthermore He would send the Tzirah among their enemies.” The Ramban elaborates that the “Tzirah” is a Bee or Hornet that stings the enemies of Israel in their fortress cities where specifically the Hivvite, the Canaanite and the Hittite were protected from the sword and therefore somewhat impermeable. The Ramban quotes Deut.7:20 to prove his point. “Also the hornet swarm will Hashem, your G-d, send among them, until the survivors and hidden ones perish before you.”

The “Tzirah” has been the subject of much discussion. It is enigmatic. It has hidden meanings. The Ibn Ezra says the “Tzirah” is a form of “Tzaarat.” G-d would send “Tzaarat” against our enemies. The Maor VaShemesh looks at the “Tzirah” in a completely different way. Essentially the “Tzirah” is more of a metaphorical term. The Children of Israel defeat their enemies by first defeating their own “Yetzer HaRa” (evil impulse). The word “Tzirah” has the word “Yetzer” within it. The Maor VaShemesh says G-d’s description of the “Tzirah” is a way of developing one’s Spiritual self. G-d is saying that developing one’s Spiritual self is a gradual process, step by step, and not a one shot deal. It is not shooting one arrow and you are now a Spiritual Being. Some people feel if they do just one thing for G-d in their lifetimes then they don’t have to do anymore. In America, many American Jews say “I had a Bar Mitzvah or a Bat Mitzvah” and that is the extent of their Judaism. Judaism does not work this way. It is a process. Judaism is not buying a lottery ticket and 24 hours later you are a billionaire on a super high spiritual level.

One has to fight the “Yetzer HaRa” every day of his or her life. When you conquer one part of the “Yetzer HaRa” you begin to conquer the next part. Your enemies will be defeated when the “Yetzer HaRa” is defeated. The “Maase Merkava” (G-d’s Chariot) (Ezekiel 1) raises the notion of four “Klipot” (evil forces) that man must overcome – 1)Kina – jealousy, 2) Taava – lust and desire, 3) Kavod – seeking honor, 4) Noga – gluttony. The Maor VaShemesh concentrates on the first three which he sends corresponds to the Hivvite, the Canaanite and the Hittite in the Posuk in Mishpatim (23:28).

G-d will often put physical enemies in our way so man can overcome his internal enemies. Human Beings are called “Holchim” because we can progress spiritually upwards, whereas Angels are called “Melachim” because they can only remain at one level. The Human Being can rise above the Angels if we work each and every day to overcome these Klipot(evil forces). Defeating the Hivvite, the Canaanite and the Hittite really refers to our defeating our “Yetzer


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