Parshas Ki Seitzei-Likkutei Torah-Prayer and arousing love of Hashem

This article is an excerpt from the above Sefer

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Ki Seitzei Lamilchama…”

[Likkutei Torah p. 34b]

This Mamar discusses the verse in the Parsha that describes the laws involved during warfare. The verse states numerous regulations of conduct upon going to war with the enemy and taking captives. The Mamar discusses the application of this verse even in today’s times and even for non-warriors. In truth, there is a daily war that every Jew is engaged in that is not limited to the actual battlefield involving swords and guns. This daily battle occurs between one’s G-dly and animal souls. Each soul battles to take over the feelings, thoughts, speech, and actions of the body and direct the Jew towards its passions of life. Each soul contains different views, wants, capabilities, and desires, causing an inner conflict within the person. This battle takes place in the heart and mind and is spread throughout one’s day. Nevertheless, there is one time in the day when the main and crucial battle is fought, and this is the battle that tilts the tide of the warfare and affects the outcome of all the future battles of the day. The time for this main battle is during prayer. Prayer is when the G-dly and animal souls have an all-out battle with all their weapons and armor. During prayer, the G-dly soul wages a strategic attack on the core and essence of the animal soul, a war against its worldly passions. The G-dly soul attempts to capture the feelings of the animal soul and re-educate it to have feelings and desire for G-d. Once this is accomplished, the battles of the rest of the day are easier and simpler to succeed, as the animal soul’s morale and desire for battle have been severely struck and weakened. The remaining battles are merely small skirmish missions, rather than an all-out war. This Mamar discusses the secret of the prayer warfare and gives us the tactics for success.


Explorations of the Mamar

1.      How is prayer considered a battlefield?

2.      What relation does prayer have with Karbanos?

3.      Why is one required to pray every day?

4.      Is one’s animal soul his true enemy, or an innocently confused, long-lost spiritual friend who needs guidance?



The Question:

The verse states, “When one leaves to war against the enemy and Hashem gives them into your hands and you take a captive.” The Zohar states that this war does not just refer to the physical battles experienced by the Jewish people during warfare, but also to a spiritual battle that occurs every day. The Zohar states that the time of prayer is a time of war. This is also seen from the verse that was stated by Yaakov: “That I have taken from the Emorites with my sword and bow”. Unkelus translates this to mean that, “I have taken with my Prayer and Supplication”. These statements seem puzzling. What war is fought during prayer, and if a war is fought during prayer then why are we required to pray daily? Once the war is won the previous day, why are we required to wage a new war the next day?

The Prayers correspond to the Sacrifices: The Sages stated that the prayers were instituted corresponding to the Karbanos. What is the connection between prayer and a Karban?


The mystical meaning behind the Karbanos-The upper fire consumes the lower fire:

The verse states, “My Karban is food for my fire”. During the times of the Temple, they would offer a Karban Olah on the Mizbeiach from the animal kingdom so that a fire would descend and consume the Olah. The reason why the Olah offering would draw a fire to consume it is because the soul of an animal derives from Yesod Haeish. The four aspects of Datzach Midabeir [Domeim-inanimate; Tzomeiach-vegetative; Chaiy-animal; Midaber-Human] correspond to the four aspects of Aish-fire; Ruach-wind; Mayim-water; Afar-earth. The soul of the animal corresponds to the aspect of Aish/fire. So when the animal was sacrificed, in order for its soul to ascend, a fire would descend from above and consume the soul of the animal, which was the fire of below. This upper fire that descended below corresponded with the supernal animal and was rooted in the Merkava Elyona [supernal chariot] of the face of the lion and the face of the ox. It is for this reason that the heavenly fire is called a “Lion that consumes the Karban”.


Prayer-The Karban of the times of exile:  

After the destruction, the Sages instituted that each person should offer his animal soul as a sacrifice in place of the physical animals. One is to offer his animal soul and reattach it to its root and source above. What is the root of the animal soul? The animal soul of a Jew is rooted in the Yesod of Aish/fire, just like the actual soul of an animal. It is rooted in the Holy chariot of the face of the lion and ox. How then did the animal soul become so materialistic, coarse, and spiritually insensitive? This is due to its descent to the level of the 70 angels that are appointed over the worldly nations. It also became invested within the Shomrei Haofanim, which is the lowest level of angel. This caused the soul to contract a physical desire for worldly enjoyment and pleasure. The power of fire that it received in its origin, in the Merkava, is now being channeled into physical and material purposes and fulfillments. This lust, as well as the evil inclination, is a foreign fire that is looking to consume all that appears pleasurable in its eyes. One is thus required to elevate the animal soul back to its source, which is the supernal fire. It is then reincorporated within the supernal chariot, which consumes its evil fires and desires for material and corporeal matters. This causes a desensitization of the animal soul towards worldly pleasures and allows him to perform his worldly needs with a cold heart, while his spiritual needs are now performed with new enthusiasm and a burning desire to attach to G-d. [Accordingly, however, it is not understood why one is required to pray daily. Seemingly, once one has prayed even one time and offered his animal soul, his soul has now been consumed within the heavenly fire. Why the need to reoffer the same animal soul each day? It is this question that the Alter Rebbe now seeks to answer.] 


The daily prayer:

Each day a person’s Yeitzer Hara is overcome with passion and desire for physical matters, and every day one is required to consume this fire of passion within the heavenly fire. Each person is given an exact amount of days to live, as it states in the verse, Yamim Yutzru. These days were not assigned based on the needs of the G-dly soul, as the soul does not require any Tikkun for itself, being that it is eternal and is not invested within time, but rather unites with its source in the Or Ein Sof. Man’s days were allocated to him according to the needs of his animal soul, based on the amount of sparks that fell into it during the Sheviras Hakeilim. These sparks are required to be elevated from it throughout one’s life, and each day a new spark and power is elevated. [What remains to be understood from the above is how does one cause the animal soul to have its animalistic desires consumed? What must be performed during prayer to allow its daily spark to be elevated?]


Reaching love of G-d:

In the laws of the Karbanos, it is recorded that in order for the heavenly fire to be drawn from above one is required to first ignite a physical fire on the altar. This law applies likewise in today’s Karban of prayer; in today’s form of Karbanos during times of exile, one is required to bring a fire from within himself in order to have the fire from above consume it. How does one ignite a fire below, within his soul? This is accomplished through contemplation of matters that the animal soul admires and is in awe from, thus showing him the greatness of G-d and spirituality. This ignites a fiery passion within both souls to want to attach to G-d and be united with Him.


A Parable:

There was once a high-positioned investment banker who traveled to the Amazon for a prospective new business expedition in the coffee industry. He lived the upper-class life with all of the goods and delicacies that life could offer: a good wife, children, food and cuisine, a mansion home, and a yacht. He was living the best that life had to offer. Unfortunately, the expedition in the deep ends of the Amazon forest took a bad turn. The expedition got lost in the woods and eventually all forms of communication became impractical. The group had to spend many years in the deep Amazon forest, learning to live a different style of life. No more good cuisine or luxurious forms of relaxation. The worldly pleasures once enjoyed by the executive became dormant and drifted into the distant past. Now, in his current situation he would be happy to even simply find a random edible root to satisfy his famished stomach. A fleshy critter would soothe his abdomen like a rib-eyed steak. If he could sleep for two or three hours without the disturbances of forest creatures, it was considered a priceless gift that he only merited to receive on occasion. The desires and passions of the executive eventually took a sharp turn in which he would find pleasure in those things that even the lowest class of person would find atrocious. The executive saw himself losing his vision of his past and losing all hope and yearning for a better future. The executive then met an old wise man who was also wandering in the forest and they developed a deep relationship. While the wise man was also in a similar situation, nevertheless he was determined to find his way out and not remain stuck with his new living spaces. The executive, however, had subconsciously come to closure with his new life and lost any thought of hope. This friendship triggered the executive to contemplate the luxuries he once enjoyed prior to the jungle and reawakened his desire and yearning for his previous life. He decided that he would not allow himself to get too happy with the newly found pleasures of the forest and would force himself to be determined to find his way home.


This story is the story of our animal soul below on earth. The animal soul once experienced a great level of G-dly pleasure, which was the pleasure of closeness to G-d and of spiritual bliss. The soul came down into the worldly jungle and “forgot” its previous life and accepted its new passions for lowly and trivial matters. The G-dly soul, which is the wise man, is there to remind the animal soul of its previous life and to where its real passions deserve to be channeled.  


The strategy of the battle-Going out to the war “over the enemy”:

The verse states: “When you will go out to war over the enemy.” What is the meaning of the words “over the enemy,” rather than “with the enemy”? Hidden in these words is the strategy required for one to be successful in his battle with the animal soul. The verse is teaching us that when you go out to overcome the material desire of your soul, to cool it off from its worldly pleasures and switch it to love for G-d, you should be over your enemies. This means that you should reach out to the root and source of the enemy, which is the root and source of the animal soul in the supernal chariot.


Lessons of the Mamar

·         Prayer is a daily battle. Use it properly to educate and overcome the animal soul.

·         Know that in truth the animal soul likewise desires the same spiritual closeness to G-d as the G-dly soul. It simply requires some reawakening of memory.

·         It is not enough to have prayed properly yesterday. Every day requires a new battle, a new spark, and a new refinement of the animal soul, as recorded in G-d’s wisdom.

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