By Sherrie B. Miller

“When you will go out to war against your enemies, and Hashem, your G-d, will deliver him into your hand, and you will capture his captivity; and you will see among it captivity a woman who is beautiful of form, and you will desire her (“v’chashakta ba”), you may take her to yourself for a wife….but if you shall not desire her (“im lo chafatzta ba), then you shall send her on her own…” (Devarim 21: 11, 14)

Jewish Dating Ki TetzeThe Torah speaks to each individual: When you go out to war against your enemies…Chazal teach us that this is refers to the private inner battle each of must fight constantly against our yetzer hara! No doubt this is the reason that we read this portion yearly during the month of Elul, the month of self-searching and searching for the road that brings us closer to Hashem. When we take on this inner battle, we become proactive and prevent the inevitable detachment and separation from our Root, from Hashem.

Elul is a time of accountability of taking a deep look into our lives and rediscover and re-ignite our passion for Hashem and His Torah. If we attack this enemy, our evil inclination, before we incorporate it into our being, then Hashem will help us fight it and we will be victorious without unnecessary toil and effort.

This notion is in contradistinction to the verse in Bamidbar 10:9 which states: “when you go to wage war in YOUR land… shall sound blast of the trumpets.. and be recalled by Hashem.. and be saved from your foes.” The war (yetzer hara) is already on your premises, inside your land, inside of you! At that point, much more effort and exertion are necessary to overcome this formidable enemy. Thus we must blow shofarot and then be remembered by Hashem, and only then, can we be saved.

In this confrontation with the yetzer hara described in the Parasha, both real and symbolic, a man is facing a desire for a forbidden woman. Hashem allows this union only after he goes through a process of self-awareness and cheshbon nefesh. He must first see this beautiful woman out of her natural environment, unadorned and unattractive. Then this man can truly determine if his “love” for her is Ahava or contrarily Ta’ava-lust! (note that Aleph (of Ahava) is the highest letter signifying Achdut of G-d, while Taf (ta’ava) is the lowest.)

When we compare the verbs of “cheshek” and “chefetz” the former denotes a desire motivated by Spiritual inspiration as we see in the passuk: “nafshi chashka baTorah.” (yevamot 63) while the latter is a lustful and material desire as is written in Megillat Esther: “if the King should desire her,” “im hamelech chafetz ba.”

For this reason, Hashem requires a soldier to slow down and do a reality check. He must ask himself: “Is this a desire of Spiritual importance and value, one that will align with the Will of my Creator, the only true will that is to my most ultimate benefit?” One mustn’t act out of transient passion or dulling of the senses leading to apathy. Such an attitude can cause me to get lost on the road to kedusha by succumbing to the norms and destructive facades of the society that we are living in.

So practically, what can we do to overcome this yetzer hara and achieve the closeness that we so deeply desire (sometimes we aren’t even conscious of this powerful soul cheshek)?

The Vilna Gaon writes that just before the time of the arrival of the Moshiach, we will be living in a world of unprecedented superficiality. This is the world of Madison Avenue, that we have become so jaded by. The fashion industry tells us what to wear, the models are all made up and tell us that we must all look a certain way and everything is marketed to appeal to people’s most base sense of desire for immediate pleasure and gratification.

To get closer to Hashem, we must constantly talk to Him and turn to him in all of our daily challenges: “Hashem, help me finish my work assignment by the deadline,” “Hashem, help me find that document that I misplaced,” “Hashem, help me overcome the pervading superficiality that surrounds me and let me see others to the depths of their souls. Help me see the real person behind the photo and be able to connect with my bashert from that place, on the deepest level.”

May we reach out with all our hearts this Elul to connect with our Creator, with all the humility that we can muster. As the soldier we spoke of above, we must neutralize our ego and feeling that the world revolves around me. It is sheer arrogance to presume that all my needs and wants must be met immediately. The more we keep our “I” in check, the more we can align our will with His. Hashems greatest pleasure is to access the greatest good and benefit for us, his beloved children.

"[Rabban Gamliel] used to say: Do His will as if it were your will, so that He may do your will as if it were His. Annul your will before His will, so that He may annul the will of others before your will." (Ethics, 2:4)

About author:
Sherrie B. Miller is a Jewish Matchmaker on and works with Jewish Singles all over the world. She is an educational guidance counselor, group leader, pre-marital coach, matchmaker and Judaic Studies teacher. Sherrie is dedicated to promoting and enhancing emotional intelligence and communication skills in conjunction with Torah values.

Sherrie received her educational counseling degree from the Michlalah in Bayit Vegan and an M.A. in Education and Counseling from Touro College, Jerusalem, Israel. Sherrie also holds a B.A. in Speech Pathology and Audiology from Brooklyn College and a B.Sc. from Yeshiva University in Jewish Education. Sherrie is certified by Midreshet Emunah and is accredited by the Rabbanut of Israel, to be a pre-marital couple’s counselor and Kallah teacher.

Before coming to Israel in 1989 from Great Neck, New York, Sherrie taught Judaic Studies at the North Shore Hebrew Academy. Sherrie also educated affiliated and unaffiliated adults through the “Project Identity” outreach program under the directorship of Rabbi Yaakov Lerner. Sherrie trained individuals and couples in the laws of Kashrut, Guidelines of Parenting, Parshat Shavua and Pirkei Avot.

In her work as a Guidance Counselor in the national religious “Mamad” school, "Yehuda Halevi", Sherrie instructed life skill workshops to students, parents and teachers, with a focus on communication, conflict resolution and anger management. She also leads support groups for children of divorce.

Sherrie is certified by the Life Center and leads Parenting workshops based on the Faber/Mazlish workshops on, “How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk”

Sherrie is an executive board member of the Emunah World Zionist Organization, Mibreishit, led by Rav Motti Alon, and Nishmat led my Rabbanit Hanna Henkin.

Sherrie’s diverse background in counseling and teaching, combined with torah principles and values contribute to the depth and quality of her success with clients. Lessons drawn from her own life transitions make her coaching perspective uniquely inspirational. Sherrie helps individuals clarify their goals and take masterful action steps to reach them. Sherrie is professionally known for her guidance in the educational system as well as her outstanding capabilities teaching interpersonal relationship skills to groups and individuals.

Having made a number of successful matches resulting in marriage, Sherrie volunteers as a matchmaker for SawYouAtSinai, an internet matchmaking site.

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