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Daily Mitzvah

Day 339: Positive Commandment 191, 214; Negative Commandment 311, 58; Positive Commandment 221; Negative Commandment 263, 264; Conclusion

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Positive Commandment 191 (Digest)
Preparation for War

"And it shall be when you come near to the battle, the priest shall approach"Deuteronomy 20:2.

We are commanded to appoint a priest who will deliver before the soldiers the "Battle Address." In this address he requests of those not suited for battle – whether due to physical or emotional frailty, or due to the fact that their minds are preoccupied with a matter that prevents them from properly focusing on the battle – to turn away. The people who must not proceed to the battlefield due to distraction are the three mentioned in the Torah: a) One who has built a home but not dedicated it. b) One who has planted a vineyard and not yet enjoyed its fruits. c) One who has betrothed a women but not married her.

This priest who addresses the soldiers is called the Mashuach Milchamah ("the one anointed for battle").

The priest's address is verbatim the words that the Torah (in Deuteronomy) instructs him to say. After saying the biblical lines, he adds words of his own, words to inspire the soldiers to courageously battle to bring victory for G‑d's religion, and to bring retribution upon the fools who destroy civilized society.

This address is spoken by the designated priest, and then loudly repeated by the military police.

All the above applies only to an "optional battle"; no speeches or proclamations are made before a "mitzvah battle" [e.g., the battle against Amalek or a self-defense battle].

Positive Commandment 214 (Digest)
A Newly Married Groom's Obligations

"He shall be free to his home for one year, and he shall cheer his wife whom he has taken"Deuteronomy 24:5.

A newly-married groom, for the first year following his marriage, is commanded to remain together with his wife, and should not embark upon journeys, join the army in battle, or anything of the like. Rather he should rejoice with his wife for a full year.

Negative Commandment 311 (Digest)
Causing a Newly Married Groom to be Absent from his Home

"Neither shall he be charged with any business"Deuteronomy 24:5.

It is forbidden to conscript a newly-married groom, for the first year following his marriage, for military or civic duties. Rather, he must be absolved from all duties that would cause him to be absent from his home.

This prohibition is directed to those responsible for conscription as well as the groom himself—he may not journey away from his home for an entire year.

Negative Commandment 58 (Digest)
Fearlessness in Battle

"You shall not be terrified by them"Deuteronomy 7:21.

It is forbidden to be fearful of our heretical enemies in the course of battle and turn back and flee. Rather, we are obligated to strengthen our hearts and stand strong in the lines of battle.

Positive Commandment 221 (Digest)
The Beautiful Captive

"And you see among the captives a beautiful woman"Deuteronomy 21:11.

We are commanded regarding the law of the beautiful female captive [i.e., we must follow the pertinent laws detailed in the Torah].

Negative Commandment 263 (Digest)
Selling the Beautiful Captive

"And it will be, if you do not desire her, then you shall send her away wherever she wishes, but you shall not sell her for money"Deuteronomy 21:14.

It is forbidden to sell the beautiful captive into servitude after cohabiting with her once on the battlefield.

Negative Commandment 264 (Digest)
Enslaving the Beautiful Captive

"You shall not treat her as a slave, because you have afflicted her"—Deuteronomy 21:14.

It is forbidden to force the beautiful captive into one's own service, i.e. that she should serve him as a handmaiden.


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Translation of (the unabridged text of) Sefer Hamitzvot by Rabbi Berel Bell, member of the Rabbinical Court of Montreal and director of Teacher Training for the Jewish Learning Institute.

From "Sefer Hamitzvot in English," published by Sichos in English.
Daily Quote
For on this day He will forgive you, to purify you, that you be cleansed from all your sins before G‑d.
  –Leviticus 16:30
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