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The Crown of Halacha

Vayachi 5777 – My Sword and Bow

This entry is part 12 of 12 in the series Bereishis 5777

My Sword and Bow

Moreover, I have given to thee one portion above thy brethren, which I took out of the hand of the Amorite with my sword and with my bow. (Bereishis 48:22)

Is This the Way a War is Fought?

After Shimon and Levi slew the inhabitants of Shechem, the surrounding nations gathered to exact revenge but they were completely destroyed.  Yaakov attributes his triumph over them to “charbi v’kashti – my sword and my bow”.  This description is somewhat confusing because it is contrary to the natural way of waging war. In a standard war, the first attack is by air followed by a ground offensive. However, the pasuk states that Yaakov attacked first on the ground, by the sword, and then by air, through the use of his bow.

Ancient Warfare

Because of the reversal of the words “sword and bow” instead of “bow and sword” nearly all of the commentaries explain Yaakov’s words allegorically.  Following are three of many explanations:

Prayer and Hisbodedos: A Powerful  Arsenal

According to Onkolus, the translation of charbi v’kashti is tzlosi (prayer) veboysi ( and supplications).

The Lekach Tov explains that prayer, even with minimal kavana, is like a sword. It is sharp, powerful and cuts with even slight pressure. A bow is powered by strength, the harder the bowstring is pulled, the farther the arrow can fly. So too with personal supplication, when a person puts his full heart and soul into his requests, Hashem values them greatly.

The Battle for the Soul Strategically Begins with Control of Heart.

Another explanation is that Yaakov conquered Shechem through his battle with the Yatzer Hara. In order to conquer the Yatzer Hara one must begin by arousing himself from within. The battle begins by changing one’s desires. Afterward, the fight is to keep outside influences from overcoming one’s Yatzer Tov.

Torah is the Merit, Prayer Shapes It

Rashi explains that Yaakov won through Torah and prayer.

Each one is powerful on their own and can protect us. However, together they form to have a synergy many times more powerful than each on their own. When used properly this combination is one of the greatest forces in the universe.

The Ultimate Battle Plan

All agree that we need powerful weapons for defeating our enemies – those outside of us and the one within. The strength of our commitment to bringing Torah into the world and the power of our prayer/supplications can render each one of us capable of victory. And for a Jew, the battle is both within and without.

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