Thursday, October 29, 2009
In today's world it has become unfashionable to fight a good fight, let alone win it. People who fight their enemies are routinely portrayed as aggressors and the real aggressors are routinely turned into victims. "Soft power" is supposed to be a solution to all of live's problems. Heaven forfend should one actually stand up for one's principles instead of discarding them as an old pair of shoes when they are no longer convenient. One is supposed to fight wars with the chief aim of protecting one's enemy from harm while disregarding the needs and rights of one's own population. I will not belabor the point. Plenty has been written on the subject and one sees this kind of totally inverted thinking every day. Just when one thinks that the previous day's travesty can't be topped, once again one is proven wrong. Really the world we live in is supposed to be a metaphor for our inner spiritual world, but just from observation, a person living today, who is not prone to deep thought or introspection will get a totally skewed perception of reality both inner and outer. Rabbi Chaim Moshe Luzzatto, the Ramchal, who lived in the 1700s, writes that really all of us are cast in the role of soldiers and all our lives until the moment we leave this world we fight battles with our Yeitzer, the evil inclination that tries to ensnare us at every turn. That is how we grow. Not only are we expected to fight, we are expected to win. I just read a wonderful book by Rebbetzin Tzipporah Heller and Sara Yocheved Rigler called Battle Plans, which uses this metaphor to explain how the Yeitzer operates and offers strategies based on Torah teachings of the Ramchal, the Maharal, the Mussar greats, etc. for fighting and winning our battles. It's full of great explanations and practical examples and suggestions. Winning a war takes courage and perseverance, it takes planning and thought. One wins wars by defeating the enemy, it's true in our internal battles and it's true in life. No amount of soft power will convince your enemy to change course, only decisive victory will. One achieves peace by defeating the enemy, period. Today, it's considered old fashioned and oh so unenlightened. It's a shame that such simple truths are so hard to accept in today's day and age but we have no choice but to press valiantly forth and hold our own in the world that seems so insane so often. Luckily it's G-d that runs the world and not the selfdeluded lovers of soft power and false peace. And luckily we have the Torah to provide guidance for us and reassure us of what the right perspective should be. Failure is not an option, our future in this world and the next depends on it.