Parshas Shoftim – Destroying the Evil Influences That Surround Us

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פרשת שופטים

In this week’s Parsha we come face to face with a פסוק, an idea, that comes up a number of times in סדר דברים, and is a concept that at first glance is a difficult one for our modern day minds to understand. מערי העמים האלה אשר ד׳ אלוקיך נתן לך נחלה לא תחיה כל נשמה כי החרם תחרימם – “From the cities of these peoples that Hashem your G-d is giving you as an inheritance, you are not to leave any person alive. Rather, you shall surely annihilate them” (D’varim 20: 16-17). As we prepared to enter into our land, the land that Hashem had gifted to us, we were told to make sure to wipe out the men, women and children of the nations that were inhabiting the land.
We, the loyal nation of Hashem, know with firm conviction, that Hashem is the קל רחום וחנון, the merciful and gracious G-d. And yet despite this, in these פסוקים and others like them, we read of Hashem commanding us to act in ways that seem vicious and almost bloodthirsty.
Despite Hashem’s compassion even upon a mother bird (ibid. 22:6,7), here even little children were destroyed. This is the same Hashem that commands us to not work different species of animals together, so as not to cause pain to either one of them (ibid. 10). And the merciful Hashem who demands from us to never work a muzzled animal on the threshing floor because of the emotional pain caused to the animal (ibid. 25:4). And He commands us here to annihilate completely men, women, and children. We, the nation of רחמנים, who must lend money to our fellow Jews without any compensation, the nation that covers the challah during Kiddush, in order to train ourselves in the trait of compassion, are suddenly required to commit gut-wrenching acts of destruction.
We know that our Torah is a תורת חסד, a Torah of kindliness. דרש רבי שמלאי תורה תחלתה גמילות חסדים וסופה גמילות חסדים – “Rabi Simla’i taught: The Torah begins with kindness [of Hashem] and ends with kindness [of Hashem]” (Sotah 14a). And that means that everything else in between is kindness as well.
How is it, that the same Torah that begins with kindness and ends with kindness, the Torah that trains us constantly in the traits of compassion and mercy, is here commanding us in what appears to be the exact opposite of compassion? To “utterly destroy every city – the men, the women and the little children.” And “You shall not leave even a soul alive” (Dvarim 20:16). How do we understand these words in the face of the knowledge that Hashem is קל רחום וחנון, the G-d of Mercy and Compassion? Wherein lies the mercy? Wherein lies the compassion?
Now, in order to begin to try to answer this difficulty, we will have to first begin to understand the relationship between the עם ישראל and Hashem, and the relationship between us and the rest of humanity.
So let’s begin with that. The only criterion for what is considered most important in this world is what הקדוש ברוך הוא considers most important. And if we look at the beginning of the Torah we see the following. It says בראשית ברא אלוקים את השמים. “In the beginning Hashem created the Heavens.” The word שמים means space. He made all of space. Further and further out, almost forever. That’s space.
ואת הארץ – “and the earth.” He also made this earth. This little tiny earth. He made this whole gigantic universe – it’s tremendous – and He also made this little globe. It seems ridiculous. It’s too much of a contradistinction to be in one verse. It’s like saying, “I built a magnificent palace and I also planted a dandelion.” A palace and a dandelion?! The universe and the earth?! In one statement?!
The answer is this. Hashem created the entire universe. Yes, we have to know that. He created this whole universe, but the entire universe is worthless on its own, because He created it just for this little earth.
And in the next פסוק Hashem says והארץ היתה – And the earth was…” Hashem ignores the universe entirely. What about the tremendous universe? Forget about it. Now, it’s only the earth. From now on, it’s only the earth that matters.
The people at NASA don’t know this. They’re busy spending our tax money searching the vast reaches of space. And that’s because they see the endless heavens, and they see the little puny earth, and they conclude that the vast heavens must be what’s important. They don’t even understand the simple pshat, the simple explanation, of the first few פסוקים in the Torah, which teaches us that this earth is what’s important. The efforts to explore outer space may prove useful, but ideologically all attention should be directed solely toward Earth, where Man, the purpose of the Universe, resides.
And the next step is even more significant. After a few parshas, Hashem starts ignoring the earth and He talks only about Avrohom Avinu. Is that one family all that הקדוש ברוך הוא is interested in?! There’s a whole universe out there! There’s an entire globe of people! What is this?! Are Avrohom and his descendants the center of the universe?! And the answer is yes. A resounding yes! Avrohom Avinu is the center of the universe. Wherever he is, he’s the important one. He’s the one Hashem is thinking about.
And his children, the עם ד׳? Same thing. Wherever we are – it makes no difference – we are the center of the universe. Because we are what Hashem is thinking about. So, the Jews in Flatbush – they’re the center of the universe. The Jews in Monsey, the Jews in Meah Sh’arim, in Los Angeles, in England, in Australia, in Williamsburg – they are the center of the universe, because they are the center of Hashem’s thoughts. Wherever the Jews are, that’s the center of the universe because Hashem’s שכינה, presence, rests only upon us.
A few weeks ago we read the following two פסוקים in פרשת עקב. And they are so important. These two פסוקים are the foundation of our lives. You can repeat these words to yourselves over and over all day long, and it wouldn’t be enough. הן לד׳ אלוקיך השמים ושמי השמים הארץ וכל אשר בה – “Behold to Hashem your G-d belong the heavens and the heavens of the heavens, the earth and all therein” רק באבתיך חשק ד׳ לאהבה אותם ויבחר בזרעם אחריהם בכם מכל העמים כיום הזה – “But only in your forefathers did Hashem delight, to love them, and He chose their seed after them, you, from all the nations of the world, as of this day” (ibid. 10:14-15).
Here we have one of the most fundamental teachings of Hashem’s Torah: to Hashem, the Fathers of Israel and their children after them, are more important than the entire universe and all therein. This implies clearly that Hashem created the Universe solely because of the Fathers and their seed after them. They, and they alone, are the fulfillment of the purpose of Creation; and they justify the existence of the Universe.
This foundation principle, that we are the chosen ones of Hashem, and that the rest of humanity is but a backdrop to the עם ישראל, becomes even more significant because of the following: If we are justification of Creation in Hashem’s eyes, then our perfection, the flourishing of our nation as dedicated servants of Hashem, becomes more important than anything else in the Universe.
Now, someone who doesn’t unequivocally understand this Torah truth, won’t be able to understand the command from Hashem in our Parsha. Yes, you might say it with your mouth, you might superficially mouth the concept of the importance and superiority of the עם ישראל above all the nations of the world, but if it’s not genuinely believed, then how can you expect to understand Hashem’s Torah?!
This idea, that we learn in ספר בראשית, is an introduction to the rest of the Torah. It’s a foundation principle. If you understand that, if you believe it בכל לבבך, then you can begin to understand these פסוקים and the answer to our question: Wherein lies the compassion and ישרות in these commandments to destroy a people and their culture – however difficult it may be for us?
The answer is this. This commandment to destroy the Canaanite people is actually a great act of compassion – an act of compassion upon the one nation that is deserving of Hashem’s compassion, the children of Hashem. And how is this so? The urgent necessity of protecting the virtue of Hashem’s chosen people against any negative influence from the wicked around them, is the greatest act of compassion upon the עם ישראל, and upon the world that exists due to the עם ישראל.
Nothing in the Universe is as precious to Hashem as His people, and their continued righteousness and growth is Hashem’s greatest desire. The perfection of the עם ישראל is to be preserved at any cost, because it is the עם ישראל and their perfection that is the sole purpose of the creation of this world. And the Canaanite influence of a pantheon of gods, upon our nation developing in the land, would have had disastrous results.
You must understand this important principle. And if you do, if you truly do, you will thereby understand that any peril to the perfection of the nation of Hashem, must be impeded at all costs. And therefore, even the most extreme measures must be taken, when vitally essential, to remove all traces of such a perilous influence. And therein lies the wisdom and compassion behind this commandment to purge all evil influences and wicked ideals from our environment.
And therefore, when Hashem commands us in this week’s Parsha, “You are not to leave any person alive; rather you shall surely annihilate the Chitites, and the Emorites, the Canaanites, and the Prezites, the Chivites, and the Yevusites, as Hashem has commanded you” (ibid. 20:16,18), the reason for this extreme but essential behavior is clearly spelled out for us.
I’m not telling you דרשות here. I’m not telling you far-out explanations. Hashem Himself tells us the reason in the following verse. And He couldn’t have made it any clearer for us: למען אשר לא ילמדו אתכם לעשות ככל תועבתם אשר עשו לאלהיהם וחטאתם לד׳ אלוקיכם – “In order that they should not teach you to do any of their abominations that they did for their gods, and you will then sin to Hashem your G-d” (ibid. 20:18).
This was not merely a massacre by an occupying force. Or of terror for the sake of terror. No, absolutely not! Hashem tells us here that we must remove from our midst the evil-doers, because our perfection is more important than the lives and culture of the wicked nations. And the Canaanite influence of עבודה זרה would have been a cancer in the body of our people. They have forfeited their lives with their wicked behavior and their removal from the land becomes imperative because the protection of עם ישראל as His beloved nation, a nation that will be loyal to Him and all His ideals, is paramount in His eyes.
This important idea, that the reason we must drive out the gentile nations from our midst, is for our own spiritual protection is repeated again in this week’s Parsha. כי אתה בא אל הארץ אשר ד׳ אלוקיך נותן לך לא תלמד לעשות כתועבת הגוים ההם… כי תועבת ד׳ כל עושה אלה ובגלל התועבת האלה ד׳ אלוקיך מוריש אותם מפניך – “When you come into the land that Hashem your G-d is giving you, do not learn to perpetrate the abominations of those nations… because anyone who perpetrates these acts is an abomination to Hashem, and it is because of these abominations that Hashem your G-d is expelling them from before you” (D’varim 18:9,12).
Now some have misunderstood these פסוקים to merely be telling us that Hashem punished the Canaanite nations because of the abominations they were committing in the holy land, a land that wouldn’t sustain such wickedness. And that they were therefore vomited out from the holy land of Eretz Yisroel. But it is much more than that.
Much more significant than the punishment for their acts of wickedness because the land of holiness could not sustain them and their abominations, is the following: Hashem desired to make the Land of Israel a place of potential perfection for the עם ד׳. And the holy nation would not be able to climb the ladder of perfection in a land saturated with wicked people and their false and foolish attitudes and ideals.
Listen to the words of the Torah: “It is because of these abominations that Hashem your G-d is expelling them from before you.” “From before you,” says Hashem! Because of you! Their sins were not enough to cause them to be expelled. They had lived on the land for hundreds of years – steeped in their wickedness – and they could have continued to live there for hundreds more. But now My people are coming into the land, said Hashem. I am expelling them “from before you.” From before my precious children. My holy people must continue to climb the rungs of perfection and remain My holy people always. And any impediment to their holiness, is an impediment to My plan and purpose in the creation of this world and everything in it.
And this reasoning of Hashem is what we find repeated over and over again by Hashem in סדר דברים. Hashem warns us repeatedly that we must purge Eretz Yisroel of the Canaanites and their influence, if we are to succeed as servants of Hashem in the land. He also explains to us so clearly why we must rid ourselves of the wicked people and evil attitudes that surround us; but we read the words of the פסוקים superficially without taking them to heart. And furthermore, Hashem demands from us the removal of any זכר, any remembrance, of their behavior. Hashem demands total eradication of falsehood.
A few weeks ago, in פרשת ואתחנן, we read of Hashem commanding us, as we prepared to enter into Eretz Yisroel, to make sure to destroy all the idols and figurines of the Canaanite nations. כה תעשו להם, מזבחתיהם תתצו ומצבתם תשברו ואשיריהם תגדעון ופסיליהם תשרפון באש – “So shall you do to them: Their altars you shall break apart, their pillars you shall smash to pieces, their Asheirim – trees you shall cut down, and their carved images you shall burn in fire” (ibid. 7:5).
Again we are faced with a peace-loving nation, a nation of kindness and mercy like no other, a nation that abhors war and conflict, taking extreme measures in destroying the cultural life, and the complete existence, of an ostensibly innocent people. Total destruction. No mercy. A bit of an extreme measure to be taken by the most kind-hearted and perfect people, don’t you think?
No, not at all! Actually this is the only, the one and only, measure that is available for us. And the reason is given immediately in the following פסוק. No need for guesswork, logical deductions or searching the מפרשים, the commentators. Hashem Himself gives us the best pshat: כי עם קדוש אתה לד׳ אלוקיך, בך בחר ד׳ אלוקיך להיות לעם סגולה מכל העמים אשר על פני האדמה – “For you are a holy nation to Hashem your G-d; Hashem your G-d has chosen you to be for Him a treasured people, above all the people that are on the face of the earth” (ibid. 7:6).
A nation that has been chosen by Hashem to be His “treasure” must do everything possible, they must take all measures available to them, to remain worthy of this distinction. The perfect nation must remain perfect. And therefore, we must remove from our midst, even in the most extreme manner, any influence that would seek to turn us away from Hashem.
The centrality-principle, the principle that we, the Jewish People, stand at the center of the Universe and are the purpose of all existence, demands such extremism. The most kind-hearted and perfect people must sometimes take the most extreme measures, על פי ד׳, if we wish to remain forever the most kind-hearted and perfect people.
And our willingness to root out evil is not limited to the gentile nations. Our uprooting of the wicked from our midst is not rooted in the hatred of gentiles, חס ושלום. Why should we have anything against the goyim?! As long as they’re not hurting us, we have nothing against them. Let them be happy.
But we do hate wickedness. Wicked behavior and foolish and empty ideals and attitudes have no place among us. And we do whatever we have to in order to protect our greatness and closeness to Hashem. And therefore, we are willing to stand strong against wickedness, even when it is found among our own, among our own brothers and sisters.
Hashem tells us in the beginning of this week’s Parsha (ibid. 17:2-7) about our responsibility to punish the Jew who worships idols, and we are told the details of the judicial process in serving judgement upon the sinner. But the final פסוק is very interesting. Here the Torah tells us that the two witnesses as well as the rest of the people are to take part in the stoning death of the violator: יד העדים תהיה בו בראשנה להמיתו ויד כל העם באחרונה – “The hand of the witnesses shall be upon him first to put him to death and the hand of the entire people afterward.”
We learn here, that all of the nation should be involved, if not actually then at least figuratively and emotionally, in the stoning death of the עובד עבודה זרה, the worshipper of idols. And then the פסוק concludes with the seemingly superfluous words ובערת הרע מקרבך – “And you shall destroy the evil from your midst.”
Now, first of all, why do all of the people have to be involved? Wouldn’t it be sufficient for the witnesses, or some court-appointed executioner to carry out the sentence? And the answer is no, absolutely not. The act of removing this man or woman, who has introduced into our holy nation the concept that Hashem is not the only One – that there are other powers in the world besides Hashem – must be carried out by all the people.
And that is because the act of removing the idol-worshipper from our midst, in a most extreme manner, awakens within us the vital principle of Hashem Echad. Hashem is the only One. There is nothing more important in our lives than the constant awareness that Hashem, and only Hashem, is in full control of everything that has occurred, is occurring, and will ever occur. And the participation of every individual in snuffing out the life of a precious Jewish soul for his acting against this important principle, sears into their souls forever, the paramount importance of this principle.
And that’s why the פסוק ends with the seemingly superfluous words ובערת הרע מקרבך – “And you shall destroy the evil from your midst.” Isn’t it obvious that the execution of the sinner would remove him from our midst? But what Hashem is teaching us here, is that the purpose of the execution is not merely to punish the sinner, but to purify our environment from all wrong attitudes. “And you shall eradicate the evil from your midst.”
What matters most is your environment. A person is whatever his environment is. And the purging our environment of idolatry and all its attendant ideas that negate the most important idea of Hashem Echad, is therefore of utmost necessity. Hashem wants our perfection and we do whatever is necessary to achieve that perfection – even to the extent of the physical destruction of those within our own nation.
And now we come to our days. Unlike the formative time period of our people, when we entered our land and were commanded to destroy the entire nation of idol-worshippers, as well as their statues, symbols and images, today we do not make any attempt at physical destruction. We, in our galus, are forbidden to rebel in any way against the nations of the world.
But Hashem, in His eternal Torah, is teaching us lessons for eternity. While we may not commit any acts of physical destruction, there is a much more crucial destruction that is incumbent upon us. It remains urgently essential for the loyal nation of Hashem, to destroy and to shatter into smithereens all the evil attitudes, ideals and practices of the blind secularists. We must turn our minds away from them and from their ideas, and replace them with authentic Torah ideals.
Only when we expel their false attitudes from our minds, will we be capable of saturating our minds with all the authentic Torah attitudes and practices.
The Rambam (Moreh Nevuchim 1:35) in discussing the above פסוקים teaches us this idea succinctly: “For it is the principal objective of the Torah as well as the axis around which the Torah revolves, to blot out these opinions [idolatry and atheism] from the minds of men, as well as to make the existence and ideals of these falsehoods impossible to exist… This is the fundamental principle of the entire Torah.”
Here the Rambam is telling us that the fundamental purpose of our stay in this world is to purge falsehood from our minds. And the reason why it is so fundamental is because we are in this world only as a preparation for the Next World. And the way we prepare is by perfecting our minds. The more you fill your mind with Torah attitudes, the ideals of Hashem, the more prepared you will be to stand before Hashem on that great and fearful day when you leave this world. But a mind that is an עירבוביא, a mixture of foreign ideas and facts, is not the mind that Hashem desires from you. And it is not the mind that you wish to stand before Hashem with.
There can be no perfection of the mind unless you always stand guard to prevent all the false ideas from encroaching upon your mind. To become fully aware of Hashem, to become more and more aware that He is the only power in this world and that everything is in His complete control, to the exclusion any other power, that is the attitude that we are expected to develop throughout our entire lifetime. And that is the principal purpose of the Torah and all the commandments.
And therefore, it was so urgently essential to break down and smash to pieces all of the images and symbols of idolatry that the עם ישראל came upon when entering the land. And the Rambam is teaching us that Hashem demands from us much more than just smashing to pieces the idolatrous figures. It is the smashing to pieces the idolatrous ideas and attitudes that is most important for our perfection. And physically destroying the wicked nations in Canaan, as well as all of their wicked and foolish images and symbols, besides ridding the land of evil, had the added benefit of arousing the minds of the people to the thorough falsehood and utter emptiness of these ideals.
Now, before we discuss the breaking down of all the false attitudes that are so prevalent around us, you must realize that one of the most important and effective ways to protect yourselves and your families, to protect your minds and the minds of your families, is to remain as separate as possible from the filth of the outside world.
Because the outside world is seeped through and through with apikorsis. Hashem means nothing at all to those around us. And it’s affecting us. It’s affecting the best of us. And therefore we have to keep far away from the ideals of those around us.
Choose the best neighborhoods to raise your family in. And even more important, to raise yourself in. Choose the best Yeshivas, the best Girls’ Schools. The best Shul and the best neighbors and friends.
And your home itself has to be insulated from the outside world. If you allow a TV or radio to be playing in your house, it’s like opening a sewer pipe directly into your living room. Imagine filthy sewer water all over your carpets. And really, it is much worse than sewer water in your living room. You’re inviting into your home all the ideas and ideals that Hashem commanded us to expel from our midst. It’s inviting all the foolish and false ideas into your head. And once you ruin your mind, you’re ruined forever.
And the periodicals and the magazines and the newspapers are all full of שקר וכזב. Even the frummeh magazines are filled with outside ideas covered with a layer of Yiddishkeit. And your single hope for success in this world is to keep all of these outside ideas as far away from you as you can.
But the lesson of this week’s Parsha goes much further than that. Much further than separation. We were commanded to completely destroy the wicked nations, and break down all of the symbols of their false and foolish beliefs. And it is of utmost necessity to know that the destruction of a people whose lives were dedicated to false attitudes and ideas, and the physical destruction and removal of all their symbols of wickedness remains most pertinent to us today.
How so? And the answer is this. One must always focus the thoughts of his mind towards the goal of destroying and uprooting these false ideas. It’s not enough to remain separate. You must take all these false ideas that seek to infiltrate our minds and slaughter them in your mind. You must smash to smithereens all the attitudes and ideals of the outside world. It’s not merely that we separate. It’s a matter of why we separate.
We must come to an understanding that the ideas of the outside world, all the עולם הזה attitudes, are completely worthless. We separate because we recognize the emptiness and the wickedness of the outside world. And through the smashing down of their ideals in our minds, that we recognize the need for keeping far away from the foolishness and falsehood. We have slaughtered these false ideals and we want no part of it.
It is not enough to merely understand that these ideas and ideals that we see around us are wrong. “That’s not us,” you think. “We don’t do that.” That’s not enough! We have to go much further than that. Yes, for other nations it may be enough to simply not condone bad behavior and wicked ideals. But we are Hashem’s children, with a much higher purpose than the rest of the world. We are the center of the universe. We are Hashem’s sole focus in this world, and Hashem must be our sole focus as well. אמר להם הקב”ה לישראל: אתם עשיתוני חטיבה אחת בעולם ואני אעשה חטיבה אחת בעולם – “Hashem says to the nation of Israel: You make me the single focus of your lives, and I, in turn, make you My single-minded focus” (Brachos 6a).
And therefore, we have to use our minds – your mind is your most precious possession – to continuously and constantly be slaughtering these ideas in your mind. The wicked ideals are seeping into our minds, whether we like it or not.
The filth and the permissiveness of the street. The lewdness and immorality of the literature. And most importantly, we are bombarded all day long with messages, subtle and not so subtle, from those around us that minimize and ignore Hashem and עולם הבא.
The subtle but pervasive attitude that we live only for this world, wreaks havoc on our service of Hashem. I know that you’ll tell me that you’re living only for the Next World. But that’s just משפה ולחוץ. It’s just a superficial statement. You’re Orthodox, so you say it. Maybe some of you even mean it a little. But the attitude of the street that success in this world is the epitome of success, and that this world is what we live for, is affecting all of us.
Even if we donate some of our time to Hashem, we’re מנדב ourselves to serve Him, but we live a life of עולם הזה. Entertainment and sports and fun and games. Romance and magazines. Money and clothes and travel and shopping. That’s what you’re living for. It’s affecting all of you. No question about it! No question about it! You’re an עולם הזה mentch.
And so, the lessons of these פסוקים are speaking to all of you. You must destroy all these wicked ideas. You must break down all these wicked attitudes. There is a time and place for רחמנות, mercy, but this is not that time. The success of the virtuous people, of Hashem’s holy children, is the biggest רחמנות. The world was made for us, and therefore our minds, our נשמות, are most important in the eyes of Hashem.
And therefore you should be repeating to yourself over and over again, as much as you can, how much you completely reject and disdain all of these false and foolish attitudes.
כל ליצנותא אסירא בר מליצנותא דעבודת כוכבים – Any form of scoffing is forbidden. You can’t just walk around making light of things, using jokes and mocking words to ridicule ideas. If you do that, you’re turning yourself into a לץ, a scoffer. And a לץ will not be זוכה לראות פני השכינה, he will not behold the Divine Presence in the Next World (Sotah 42a). ליצנות is a terrible midah. A wicked midah.
However, Chazal tell us that there is one exception: ליצנותא דעבודת כוכבים. To ridicule and scoff at עבודה זרה, to mock those who reject the truth of Hashem Echad is מותר, permissible. That’s the one form of ליצנות that is permissible. That ליצנות is a מצוה because עבודה זרה, and of course the atheism so prevalent today, which is worse than עבודה זרה, is the flip side of recognizing Hashem. And the more you ridicule the foolishness of rejecting Hashem, the more you make Hashem real in your mind.
You have to teach yourself the right way in life. Don’t wait for somebody else to come and save you. Nobody is going to care about you as much as you yourself care. And the more you tell yourself that you’re here in this world only for Hashem, the more you’ll begin to believe it.
You don’t even realize how much you’re being affected by living among the goyim. And not only the goyim, but even the Jews who live like goyim. And the biggest problem is that you don’t even notice it. You read something in the newspaper. “I didn’t do anything wrong,” you think. “It’s a כשר newspaper.” It’s not the New York Post or the New York Times חס ושלום. But to read and read and read, and הקדוש ברוך הוא is not even mentioned once! It doesn’t matter how כשר the newspaper is – it’s atheism seeping into your mind.
Hashem is in charge, he is running the show everywhere. There is no meaning in the events of Mankind which is not connected to the destiny of the עם ישראל. Not only is the history of our nation manipulated by G-d for the purpose Hashem has in mind for us, but the history of all the nations and all men is manipulated for the shaping of our destiny. “Even the ships which travel from Gaul to Spain prosper only because of Israel” (Yevamos 63b). “Suffering comes upon the world only because of Israel” (ibid.).
Hashem is doing everything – for us. Hashem is not just a word in the Siddur. The goyim are killing each other in Bosnia. That’s Hashem. Iraq invading Kuwait. That’s Hashem. A civil war in Somalia. That’s Hashem. An earthquake in Turkey. The Arabs making trouble in Eretz Yisroel. The Stock Market in America going up. It’s all Hashem. Even if we, with our puny little brains, can’t always figure out why Hashem is doing something, but one thing we do understand – that it’s Hashem Echad. It’s all Hashem!
But you read and you talk and you hear, and there’s no Hashem! And that is the Canaanite influence that you want to expel. When you can speak with somebody for five minutes, it doesn’t matter about what – the weather, the news, parnasa, the family, Yeshiva – and you don’t mention Hashem? Not even once?! That’s fine for the outside world. We’re happy if they’re just behaving. If they’re not making pogroms, we’re happy. But for us?! Hashem’s children?! We can’t allow ourselves to be satisfied with being goyim, covered with a thin layer of yiddishkeit. Hashem has to be on your mind all the time.
And you must keep reminding yourself why you are here. “I’m here in this world to serve Hashem and to prepare for the Next World.” Say it. Say it with your mouth right now. Don’t be embarrassed. If you would remind yourself all day long that Hashem Echad, then you’d begin to believe in the Next World. And the more you drill this into your mind, the more you will reject all the vanities and foolishness of this world that take your mind off Hashem. And you’ll never be able to say it enough times. Every time you think it, every time you say it, it’s another degree of perfection. Every time you repeat it to yourself, you’re doing much more than destroying the seven nations of Canaan. You’re doing much more than smashing their idols to smithereens. And that’s because you’re doing it in your mind.
And the cleaning out of your mind from all the foolishness and wickedness of the outside world, is much more essential to your success, than the purging of the wicked Canaanites from Eretz Yisroel
Have a wonderful Shabbos