Ultimate Victory Comes From Going Outside Your Comfort Zone



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    Shifra Vepua

    Ultimate Victory Comes From Going Outside Your Comfort Zone

    BEGIN WITH A GRIN An American general is visiting an Israeli military base where he is given a walking tour by his Israeli counterpart. As they walk around the place, the American asks, “So, General, how are your men?” • Full Article

    BEGIN WITH A GRIN
    An American general is visiting an Israeli military base where he is given a walking tour by his Israeli counterpart. As
    they walk around the place, the American asks, “So, General, how are your men?”
    “Very well trained, General.”
    “I hope so. You see, my men in the United States Army are extremely well trained, in addition to being the bravest
    men in the world.”
    “Well, I'm not so sure about that, General,” replies the Israeli General. “My men are very brave too.”
    “I'd like to see that,” says the American.
    So the Israeli General calls over private Barak and says, “Private Barak! I want you to stop that tank simply by
    standing in front of it!”
    “Are you crazy?” says Private Barak. “I would get killed! Are you some kind of fool?”
    The Israeli turns to the American and says, “You see? You have to be pretty brave to talk like that to a general.”
    TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT
    We are in difficult times, war time, and we all seek inspiration and divine guidance as to how to bring the true and
    complete Geula, a time when “a nation won’t raise a sword against a nation and they will no longer learn warfare.”
    The true and only guidance we can find in the holy Torah, mainly in the part of the Torah that is most practical and
    the most current – the weekly parsha.
    In this week’s Torah portion, Vayishlach, Yaakov faces a similar problem – Eisav the wicked one, a bloodthirsty
    terrorist who seeks revenge, with a large army, presents himself (to the world) as the victim of a theft of his brachos
    (or land…). Sound familiar?
    What did Yaakov do to rid himself of this problem? How does he prepare for the continued struggle to return home,
    to the Promised Land?
    When you look at the parsha with Rashi, we see that Yaakov divided his people into two camps, saying, “If Eisav
    comes to one camp and strikes it, and the remaining camp will be for a refuge” – “against his will, I will fight with
    him.” At first glance, it seems like a simple strategy – dividing the camps and fighting, in order to increase the
    chances of at least one of the camps being saved.
    Although there are commentaries that understand it like this (Ibn Ezra) when we examine Rashi’s wording it seems
    this is not what Yaakov had in mind. Yaakov was convinced of his being victorious, without a shred of doubt. He
    didn’t rely on mathematical probabilities and high percentage points that his plan would work. He stated as fact,
    “And the remaining camp will be for a refuge” – “against his (Eisav’s) will.” Where did Yaakov’s confidence come
    from? How did he know that he would win when anything could happen?
    In an amazing sicha, fitting for the times we are in, the Rebbe explains what Rashi means and the message we can
    implement in our lives.
    First, another question which calls out from the story. Rashi continues his explanation to the story, “(Yaakov Avinu)
    prepared himself for three things: a gift, prayer, and war.” Whoever reads the verses is stunned by what Yaakov did.
    In verses 8-9 he divides his people into two camps and only then, in verses 10-13 does he ask Hashem for help,
    “Hashem, G-d of my father Avrohom … please save me from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Eisav,
    because I fear him.” Is that how a Jew behaves – first preparing for war and then praying? True, we are supposed to

    look for natural ways to be saved and we cannot rely on a miracle, but to put the natural way before the prayer?
    This question brings Rashi to understand the division into camps not as preparation for war. It wasn’t a military
    strategy, something you learn in basic training or even in a war college, because this was Yaakov’s preparation for
    prayer!

    DON’T GET TOO COMFORTABLE
    What is the connection between dividing the camps and prayer? Yaakov’s prayer was based on G-d’s promises to
    him, as Rashi explains later on. Yaakov was sure about victory not because of military strategy and not because of his
    advanced high-tech weapons, but because G-d promised him, “and I will protect you wherever you go … return to
    the land of your fathers and I will be with you,” and G-d’s promise must be fulfilled!
    But this promise was only for Yaakov’s household and not for his money, servants and maidservants. Therefore,
    Yaakov divided his people into two. One camp had his family, for which he had G-d’s explicit promise, which is why
    he was sure they would remain alive, and the other camp was comprised of his wealth, for which he didn’t have an
    explicit promise.
    Only after dividing the camps did Yaakov pray, so that G-d will fulfill His promise about the first camp, his wife and
    children.
    True, Yaakov prepared for war because a Jew must do the natural thing and find solutions and logical ways to
    actualize G-d’s promise even without open miracles, but one thing was clear to Yaakov: this camp with his wives and
    children would surely be saved. How? That is something we’ll see later…
    We will win the war because we have a promise from G-d; the only question is: how.
    The Rebbe goes on to say that Rashi changes from the common term for preparation and uses a unique expression,
    namely that Yaakov, “fixed himself” for three things. What does fixing himself mean? Why not preparing or
    readying?
    The Rebbe explains that preparation represents doing the simple things that align with a person’s nature. He just
    needs to prepare himself for it, like a teacher before giving a lesson or a rav before a sermon. ‘Fixing’ oneself means
    actions that are done against a person’s wishes and nature. He needs to ‘fix’ himself, to change and go out of his
    everyday existence in order to do them.
    In this situation, the three things, gifts, prayer and war, were not easy for him. He wasn’t interested in sending gifts
    to his wicked brother. He did not feel worthy of praying and that his prayer would be accepted (because of his sins)
    and he wasn’t in the mood to fight (“Yaakov was very fearful and was distressed – he feared lest he be killed and he
    was distressed lest he kill others”) but he “fixed himself.” He overcame all the difficulties and did all three things.
    Furthermore, explains the Rebbe, these three things are contradictory to one another. Sending a gift expresses
    feelings of closeness and love, while going to war expresses feelings of force and aversion. Yaakov overcame this
    polarity in order to do G-d’s will and to find natural means of actualizing the G-dly promise.
    The lesson for us, when we need to save Jewish children from Eisav from the corrupt, immoral way of life of this
    world, we have to overcome our nature and must use all possible means to carry out the mission.
    So too, in connection with Geula. We need to find the appropriate pathways to reach the heart of every Jew, in one
    way or another, ways in which we feel comfortable or even in ways that requires us to overcome our natural
    inclinations, in order to bring the Geula now!
    TO CONCLUDE WITH A STORY
    We will end with a story that I recently heard in the name of R’ Menachem Gerlitzky, a story which shows how every
    word or promise from the Rebbe, certainly in connection with the Geula, will be fulfilled.
    When R’ Gerlitzky first began his shlichus, he visited senior homes in Brooklyn. He would speak fervently about the

    Rebbe promising and the Rebbe will keep his promises. He would enumerate prophecies that the Rebbe said which
    were fulfilled, such as the death of Stalin, the Six Day War, the Yom Kippur War, the Gulf War, the fall of the
    communist bloc and the exodus from Russia.
    One of those times, toward the end of his speech, an old man stood up and began to shout, “How do you dare say
    that every word the Lubavitcher Rebbe says is fulfilled? That’s a lie!”
    The man went on to say, “My daughter became friends with a goy and I was very afraid that she would marry him. I
    looked for ways to stop this. An acquaintance told me to speak to the Rebbe. I went for dollars on a Sunday and told
    my problem to the Rebbe and asked for a bracha. The Rebbe said, ‘Everything will work out just as it should.’ A few
    years passed and my daughter married the goy! So how can you tell me that everything the Rebbe says is fulfilled?”
    R’ Gerlitzky didn’t know what to say. A few seconds passed which seemed like forever and the man continued, “In
    general, all the Orthodox rabbis are that way… problematic…”
    R’ Gerlitzky took the opportunity to say, “What’s your problem with Orthodox rabbis? What did they do to you?”
    The man said, “A few years ago, I wanted to get divorced but no rabbi would arrange a get.”
    “How come?”
    “Because they said that my wife converted Reform and so a divorce couldn’t be done.”
    “Aha,” said R’ Gerlitzky. “Your wife converted Reform which means your daughter is not Jewish! That’s why the
    Rebbe told you everything will work out just as it should. He didn’t tell you that she wouldn’t marry a goy because
    she is supposed to marry a goy since she isn’t Jewish!”
    If this is so for matters pertaining to gentiles, all the more so in matters pertaining to Jews and the Jewish nation, we
    can be sure that every promise the Rebbe made will be fulfilled, and mainly, the true and complete Geula.
    Good Shabbos!

    93

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