"When you go out to war on your enemies..." (Deuteronomy 21:10 — opening verse of this week's parshah)

"When you come into the land...." (Deut. 26:1 — 1st verse of next week's parshah)

Whenever we do anything, we're either going out, or coming in.

When we go out, it's to wage war. Whenever we venture forth from our place — from the where and what of our present moment and condition — we effect a change in the outside. It may be an earth-shaking change, or one that is scarcely felt. It may be a change for the better, or, G‑d forbid, for the worse. But every time we act upon the outside world, we do something to it. And change is war.

The enemy may be an antagonist armed with guns and hate. It may be a conspiracy of ignorance and apathy. Or it may simply be the status quo, the "way things are." We are all warriors, for we each harbor the conviction that we were born to make a difference.

But not every moment of life is a going out moment. There are also times when we come in.

There are also times when we turn the arrow of life inward to our own center and essence, and to the center and essence of the people, objects and phenomena in our lives. When we desist from the quest to "make a difference" and seek, instead, to uncover the essence within — the changeless essence that has always been there and always will be, and which requires no action to actualize, only a settling in to its tranquil core.

"There is a time for war," said the wisest of men, "and a time for peace."

Today, the bulk of our lives is consumed with the endeavor to go out — to wreak change, to better the world. Our "coming in" moments are few and far between, rare islands of vision and tranquility in the war of life. Today, however, is only a prelude to "a day that is wholly Shabbat and rest for life everlasting" — the day we come into the land.