The opening verse of this week’s Torah portion, Ki Teitzei, begins “When you go forth to battle against (al) your enemies.” Significantly, the Torah uses the word “al,” literally “upon” or “above,” rather than “with” or “against.”
This contains an allusion to the ongoing “battle” every Jew must wage against his true enemy, the Evil Inclination:
A Jew might claim that it is very difficult for him to study Torah and do mitzvot (commandments), given that he lives in a non-Jewish world. Then he must also contend with his Evil Inclination, which continually tries to convince him that he doesn’t need to conduct himself as a Jew. “The non-Jews don’t keep kosher,” the Evil Inclination says, “why should you?”
Furthermore, the Evil Inclination is a “skilled craftsman,” meaning that he is very good at his job. The Evil Inclination doesn’t always present himself as an enemy; in fact, he is at his most dangerous when he disguises himself as a friend. Sometimes, the Evil Inclination will even pretend to the Good Inclination, whose only desire is to improve the person’s behaviour. This is the worst evil one can inflict on someone, making believe he is a true friend while actually causing him harm.
A Jew might ask, “How am I supposed to protect myself from the Evil Inclination? And how can I be sure whether a suggestion is coming from the Evil Inclination or the Good Inclination?”
Then, of course, there is a more fundamental question: Why did G-d create an Evil Inclination in the first place? Wouldn’t it have been better if people had only a Good Inclination, and instead of fighting negative impulses and having to overcome them, all their time could be spent learning Torah and doing mitzvot?
To which the Torah answers, “When you go forth to battle upon your enemies.”
G-d tells every Jew: Yes, it is true that you will have to wage a life-long battle against the Evil Inclination. But you should know that as soon as you determine to fight him, at the very moment you resolve to wage war against your true adversary, the Evil Inclination, you will automatically be raised to a superior position. And in the same way that it is easier to vanquish a physical enemy from an elevated position, so too will it be easy to defeat the Evil Inclination, with G-d’s help.
As soon as a Jew resolves to fight his Evil Inclination, the battleground is already tilted in his favor. G-d makes him stronger than his adversary, and he has nothing to fear. All of his time can then be utilised for learning Torah and doing mitzvot. Moshiach NOW!!!