Friday, August 24, 2007

Gain the upper hand

There’s a rather strange new Nike advertising campaign that’s popped up all over Joburg’s billboards. Each billboard depicts frame-by-frame shots of a sportsman in mid-game. The campaign’s theme is “This is how I war”.

We all know there is a huge amount of violence in our society, so Nike probably figured they’d advertise their brand and make a social statement at the same time.
It really is a nice message and let’s hope it succeeds.

Seeing as we’re generally expert armchair politicians, we tend to notice the battles around us and ignore the battles inside us. We all have them, they’re uncomfortable, and they’re for real.

People battle depression, laziness, temptation and a host of other personal weaknesses. If Judaism had to create a “This is how I war” campaign for those battles, what would the message be?

Luckily, the answer’s right at the start of this week’s Torah portion. It starts “When you go to war on your enemies, G-d will deliver them into your hands”. To use correct grammar, the Torah should have said “When you to war against your enemies”. On your enemies? What is that supposed to mean?

Human nature is such that we take our enemies really seriously; maybe even more seriously than they take themselves. “I have a big problem with keeping my mouth shut”, “I battle to motivate myself”, “I’ll never manage to break my bad habits”.

Such an attitude doesn’t help fight the war, it predisposes us to lose it.

That’s why the Torah says go to war “on” your enemies. Our challenge is to remain above it. G-d says He will deliver them into our hands, He’ll guarantee success for our personal challenges. All we need to do is rise above- and trust.

Pretty appropriate at Rosh Hashanah-time, don’t you think?

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