Turning Foe Into Friend



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    Turning Foe Into Friend

    From the desk of Manhattan Shliach Rabbi Sholom Schapiro: The objective of war is to defeat the enemy. However its ultimate goal is to win over the enemy – to make the foe into a friend. For example look at the ex-criminals that have become members of the intelligence agencies. That’s not only stopping crime but transforming those forces into good. How can this be accomplished? How can a foe be turned into a friend? Is it possible to convince the enemy to cease his evil ways? • Click to Read

    In this week’s Torah portion we read how Yaakov prepared to meet his brother Esav. Esav had wanted to kill Yaakov. Yaakov fled from his parents house and spent over twenty years abroad. Jacob did not wish to go to war. That wasn’t his thing. Yet he was aware that he would face an enemy and must prepare accordingly. Yaakov made military preparations to defend himself but did his best to avoid conflict.

    Yaakov and Esav traveled towards each other. Yaakov with his family and Esav with four hundred soldiers eagerly awaiting war. Yaakov first met Esav’s guardian angel and wrestled with him throughout the night. It seemed like war was in the air.

    But oddly enough the tide turned. The battle with the angel of Esav concluded with the angel blessing Yaakov and Esav and Yaakov’s face to face meeting turned loving and peaceful.

    The objective of war is to defeat the enemy. However its ultimate goal is to win over the enemy – to make the foe into a friend. For example look at the ex-criminals that have become members of the intelligence agencies. That’s not only stopping crime but transforming those forces into good.

    How can this be accomplished? How can a foe be turned into a friend? Is it possible to convince the enemy to cease his evil ways?

    The secret lies in the Hebrew word for battle – “k’rov”. “K’rov” means battle, but can also mean closeness. “Coming close” to the enemy means intellectually engaging the enemy and convincing the enemy of the truths that one stands for and to join our forces. This is the ultimate goal of war.

    The same idea can be applied to our personal lives. Every Jew has two forces within him, an animalistic soul and a G-dly soul. The animalistic soul is selfish and wishes to fulfill the desires of the body. The G-dly soul is selfless and is drawn to holiness and goodness. The two souls are at war with each other. King Solomon analogically describes man as a city in which two kings are battling for control.

    In our personal lives as well the goal of the battle is to turn foe into friend. To convince the animalistic soul that leading a moral and good life is actually good for the animalistic soul too. This transforms the negative forces to good.

    At times our selfish desires may feel so real that we may think that this is who we are. But the truth is that deep down we desire to do good and by focusing on the positive effects of our goodness we can even convince our animalistic soul to agree and to desire good as well.

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    This coming Tuesday is the 19th of Kislev, the day that the founder of Chabad Chassidism, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi (1745-1812), was freed from his imprisonment in czarist Russia. Rabbi Schneur Zalman was arrested on charges that his teachings threatened the authority of the czar. He regarded his arrest as the earthly echo of a heavenly indictment against the revelation of the most intimate secrets of the Torah. And he saw his release as signifying his vindication in the heavenly court. Following his liberation on 19 Kislev, he redoubled his efforts and disseminated his teachings on a far broader scale.

    Rabbi Schneur Zalman was released from prison while reciting a verse in Psalms that states “He redeemed my soul with peace from the battle that came upon me.” This verse expresses that the ultimate way to fight a war is peacefully. So that the entire individual, even his natural tendencies, serve G-d in totality.

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