Dvar Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
Dvar Torah #1
The Torah states: “When you go out to war against your enemies, and the Almighty, your God, will give him into your hand…” (Deut. 21:10).
The Arizal, a great Kabbalist, noted that the verse refers to the Jewish people in the singular. However, regarding our enemies, it starts out in the plural (“enemies”) and the verse ends referring to them in the singular (“give him” — instead of writing “give them”). Since this is not a case of poor editorship, what is the lesson that the Torah is coming to teach us?
The Arizal elucidates: The Torah is telling us that if we have unity and are as one when we go out against our enemies, then even though our enemies are very numerous, you will be victorious as easily as if they were just one.
The importance of unity for accomplishment applies not only during times of war against an enemy. It is just as necessary during times of peace. When a group of people will work on any project with a spirit of togetherness, they will accomplish much more than if they would each be doing things as separate individuals.
Dvar Torah #2
The Torah states: “You shall surely send away the mother bird, and the fledglings take for yourself, in order that it shall be good for you and you shall live a long life” (Deut. 22:7).
Why does the Torah promise a good and long life for fulfilling this mitzvah (commandment)?
The Ramban (Moshe Nachmanides) explains that this mitzvah will implant in a person the attribute of empathy and compassion. Acting in a compassionate manner will enable you to feel empathy.
The Ksav Sofer (Rabbi Avraham Shmuel Sofer) notes that the Sages in the Talmud (Pesachim 113b) teach that three kinds of people are not considered as really living: 1) those with a strong degree of compassion 2) those who constantly become angry 3) those who are finicky.
Rabbi Sofer elucidates: When someone empathizes strongly with the pain and suffering of others, he will suffer himself whenever he hears about the suffering of others, especially when he is unable to do anything to alleviate the other person’s suffering, as is frequently the case. Therefore, after the Almighty commands us to have compassion on birds in order that we should grow in this trait, He guarantees that through this we will still live a good and long life. For many years you will be able to help a larger number of people and this will increase your days instead of shortening them. The more you feel for others, the more elevated you become.