Shoftim – August 22, 2015

S.T.A.R.’s upcoming exciting events:

This Shabbat:

  • Friday Candle Lighting: 7:14 pm
  • Shabbat Ends: 8:01 pm

Torah Message:

Did You Hear That?

When you go out to battle against your enemy and you see horse and chariot. Let not your hearts be faint; do not be afraid, do not panic, and do not be broken before them. For Hashem, your G-d is the One who goes with you, to fight for you with your enemies, to save you. (20:1-4)

The Torah gives four warnings here: Let not your hearts be faint; do not be afraid, do not panic, and do not be broken before them. Rashi comments that these four warnings correspond to four strategies that the kings of the nations use in battle: Let not your hearts be faint — from the sound of the stamping of horses hooves and their neighing. Do not be afraid — of the sound of shields being banged together. Do not panic — from the sound of horn blasts. And do not be broken before them — from the sound of their shouting.

All of these fears are based on sound. The power of sound is that it draws from the world of imagination, intimation. It lacks the immediacy of sight, but therein lies its power.

Sound suggests much more than it says: A creaky door in a gothic house; the sound of the wind whistling through a cracked window. These are only sounds but they have the power to petrify. Why? Sound is always alliterative. It hints. It suggests. The nature of sound is that the person who hears has to assemble the sound and make it meaningful.

Sight is unambiguous. When the Jewish People were sinning with the golden calf, G-d told Moshe to go down and see what was happening in the camp. Wouldn’t Moshe have believed G-d if He had told him what was happening? If you can’t believe the Almighty, who can you believe? And yet G-d wanted Moshe to see with his own eyes what was going on. Because you can’t compare hearing to seeing. The very ambiguity of sound is what makes it so frightening.

Did you hear that? Or was it just me?