15 Aug SHOFTIM: BITACHON WITH CERTAINTY
The Sefer Ha’Ikrim
teaches: Just as we are
certain the sun will shine
tomorrow morning, that
is the degree of
certainty we should
have that Hashem will
In fact, we are so
confident that Hashem
will help that we can
rejoice with Hashem’s
salvation even before it
The Brisker Rav
taught (Tehillim 37:3-
2), trust in Hashem,
and rejoice with the
salvation you are sure will come. In the merit of
your high level of bitachon, Hashem will grant
you all your heart’s desires.
Once, there was a commotion in the beis
medresh of the Brisker Rav in the city Brisk.
The yungerleit were animatedly discussing
something that occurred the previous night in
their city. The Brisker Rav zt’l asked them what
it’s about. They told him about the chillul
Hashem and the disgrace of Torah that took
place in their city.
Non-religious elements of Brisk conducted a
play, acting out a Jewish war. A large number of
soldiers stood at attention, and the general
announced, “Whoever built a new house…
should return home” (see 20:5), and some of
the soldiers left.
“Whoever planted a new vineyard should
return home,” and a few more soldiers left.
“Whoever is newly married should return
home,” and a few more soldiers left.
Then the general said, “Whoever is afraid of
war should go home,” and everyone ran away.
Only two old, hunchbacked soldiers remained,
and they were honoring each other, each
wanting that the other get the honor of taking
the “first shot.”
The people in the beis medresh were upset
that the irreligious people of Brisk were making
fun of the Torah.
The Brisker Rav told them, “Actually,
everything was exactly as they acted it out,
only they left out the main part. Those two
elderly Yidden won the war.”
Those who are afraid of war because of their
aveiros should return home. As it states (20:8),
“Whoever is afraid, and is fainthearted should
return home.” Rashi explains, “He is afraid
because he has aveiros.”
The Gemara (Sotah 44.) says, even if someone
spoke between tefillin shel yad and tefillin shel
rosh can return home.
The Rebbe of Kotzk zt’l (Siach Sarfei Kodesh,
end of Shoftim) asks that from a few pesukim
earlier (20:3), it seems that all one needs is the
merit of saying Shema, and that is sufficient to
be saved. So, why do we now say that the
slightest transgression is a reason to be afraid
and return home?
The Kotzker zt’l answers: To win a war, you
need either bitachon or to be clean from all
aveiros. If a person has bitachon and believes
that in the merit of saying Shema, Hashem will
help him in the war, it will be so. But if a person
doesn’t have this feeling of trust and certainty
and lacks bitachon, he must be totally clean
from sin to win the war. Therefore, even for the
minutest aveirah, he should return home.