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Sotah 8:1-2

Sotah 8:1

When the kohein anointed for war addressed the people, he spoke in Hebrew, as per Deuteronomy 20:1-4: “It shall be when you approach battle that the kohein will come near and address the people” – meaning in Hebrew – “saying, ‘Listen, Israel! Today you approach your enemies in battle’” – which excludes when fighting their brethren. If the Tribe of Yehuda were to fight Shimon, or Shimon to fight Binyamin, the victors would have mercy on the defeated as per II Chronicles 28:15 (which describes the aftermath of a battle between Tribes), “The men who were named stood up, took the captives, and used the spoils to dress those who were naked, give them shoes, give them food and drink, anoint them, transport the weak on donkeys, and bring them to Jericho, the city of palm trees, from where they returned to Samaria.” When facing one’s enemies, one cannot expect such mercy. “Do not let your heart be faint. Do not be afraid or concerned…” – don’t let your heart be faint because of the sounds of horses and swords, don’t be afraid because of the sight of shields and troops, don’t be concerned because of the trumpets blowing and don’t be scared of them because of the shouting – “because Hashem your God goes ahead of you.” The enemy rely on human might but you (i.e., the army of Israel) rely on God. The Philistines relied on Goliath and how did that work out? He fell by the sword and they fell with him! Ammon attacked relying on Shovach (the name of a military leader in 2 Samuel 10) and what happened? He fell by the sword and they fell with him! This is not the case with you (the army of Israel) “because Hashem your God goes ahead of you to fight for you.” This refers to the Ark, which accompanied the Jews into battle.

Sotah 8:2

Continuing with Deuteronomy 20:5-7, “The officers shall address the people, saying, “Who has built a new house and not yet dedicated it? Let him return to his house.” It makes no difference whether one built a house to store straw, cattle, wood or merchandise, and it makes no difference whether he built the house, bought it, inherited it or received it as a gift. “Who has planted a vineyard and not yet redeemed the fruit?” It makes no difference whether he planted a vineyard or five fruit trees – even if they are of five different species. It also makes no difference whether he planted the vineyard, bent the vines into the ground or grafted them, or whether he inherited the vineyard or received it as a gift. “Who has betrothed a woman…?” It makes no difference whether he betrothed a widow or a virgin, or even if he is waiting to perform yibum. Even if he heard that his brother died in battle (which would necessitate yibum), he returns home. The kohein delivered his speech at the front, where the battle occurs. Those who return home perform public service, providing food and water to the troops and maintaining the roads.

Author: Rabbi Jack Abramowitz