The Parsha begins, “When you wage war against your enemy, and Hashem your G-d will place them in your hands and you will take captives.”

Reb Tzodok Hakohain and many great sages tell us that this portion can be interpreted appropriately for this time of year when our mind and thoughts should be focused on the upcoming Days of Awe.

“When you go to war against your enemy,” also refers to the war which we wage against our evil inclination.

Unlike contemporary thinking, the Torah perspective is that we are to counter our negative thoughts, passions and drives, despite the fact that it will take the might of a warrior to win this internal war.

Since one may consider this a daunting task with no possible way to overcome the challenge, the Torah immediately states that when you decide to go to war against this enemy, G-d will give you the strength to be victorious, and will endow you with the ability to overcome and resist the temptations!

We all have certain tendencies and habits that have become a part of us and it seems that it will take a miracle for us to adjust.

Reb Tzodok also tells us that although the Talmud tells us that one should not rely on miracles and should do his utmost to address all his situations through conventional ways, this dictum applies only to the materialistic realm of things, however, regarding spiritual matters, he can rely on G-d to do the miraculous. Therefore one can rely on the miraculous when fighting a spiritual battle!

This is the Torah’s assurance: If we make up our mind to conduct this type of battle, G-d will grant us the strength to take control of our internal enemy.

Often one is discouraged from choosing a path of Teshuva – repentance – because he thinks, “Look at all I have done in the past; there’s no way to pull out.” But, in fact, the motivation for many to seek help and begin recovery from alcohol, chemical and other addictions is when they have bottomed out and feel totally powerless over their behaviors. Thus, the stimulus to recovery is actually feeling there is no way out.

The Torah in this week’s parsha states that when one unintentionally kills another person he must seek asylum in one of the 48 designated cities of refuge.

The Talmud explains that this law applies only when one’s action is downwards, for example he is going down a ladder and slips and falls killing the person below. However, if he slipped and killed a person below while he was ascending he is not liable.

The Talmud poses a question regarding one who killed while lowering an axe in order to gain momentum for an upward swing: Do we look at the actual downward motion or do we look at the intent and purpose, which is upward. The Talmud describes this motion as, “Yerida Shehu Tzorich Aliyah –  a lowering which is for the purpose of going upward.”

The Chasidic masters, in their inimitable style of encouragement and placing hope in one’s heart, have borrowed this term and explained: “When one feels that he has fallen low and bottomed out in his level of service to G-d or towards his fellow man, he should not wallow and get stuck in the abyss. Rather, as with the illustration of the axe, he should use the downward motion of his faltering to energize an Aliyah –  a boost to triumph and aspire to reach great heights in his service and relationship to G-d and his fellow man!”