Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Subtle Evil

Art by Ileanap

According to Chassidic thought, the war against the seven Cana'anite nations alludes to the ''battle'' of refining one's overtly undesirable character traits [which fall into seven broad categories, stemming from the seven emotional facilities of the Animal Soul - the Nefesh HaBehamis]  Consequently, this ''war'' is not relevant to the tribe of Levi, or to those who aspire to their spiritual level - as Rambam writes that this could be ''any type of person - whose spirit inspires him, and he resolves in his mind to set himself apart [from worldly pursuit], to stand before G-d and serve as His minister, to work for Him, and to know G-d'' [end of Laws of the Sabbatical and Jubilee Years].

In contrast, the war against Midian involved fighting against a subtle type of evil which is found in virtually every personality, even those who dedicate themselves as full time ''ministers'' of G-d.  Thus, even the Levites and those among the Jewish people who devote themselves ''to stand before G-d and serve as His ministers'' must participate in waging the spiritual war against Midian.

What is the ''subtle evil'' that can plague even the most dedicated servant of G-d? Chassidic thought explains that this is a lack of unity and camaraderie between one man and another, indicating underlying emotions of divisiveness and unjustified hatred.   All this arises from a sense of our over-inflated self-importance, which causes a person to be intolerant of others and eventually view them as enemies.  Clearly the war against these attributes is very important indeed.

Source: Based on Likutei Sichos vol 28 Lubavitcher Rebbe

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