The Jew has always known that his mission in life is not the mere pursuit of pleasure and gratification of base desires. His task is to bring light into darkness, to reveal to all that the earth is full of G‑d’s glory. At many recent public addresses, the Lubavitcher Rebbe Shlita has stressed and explained the pivotal role Jewish children play in this task. They, and all of us, are soldiers in “Tzivos Hashem,” the Army of G‑d. The true service and unswerving devotion of these “soldiers” ensures ultimate victory — the speedy arrival of our righteous Moshiach (Messiah).

The following are adapted excerpts from the Lubavitcher Rebbe Shlita’s addresses, launching a new campaign to organize young children into an “Army of G‑d.”

The tramp of armies on the march has echoed throughout the history of mankind, some for defensive purposes and others for aggression. The soldier has been an omnipresent figure on the face of the earth since aggression was first employed as a means of settling differences.

In Jewish history there have also been soldiers and armies. But their allegiance has never been to some temporal ruler, today triumphant, tomorrow a mere footnote in history books. From the ringing battle cry of Gideon — “For the L‑rd and for Gideon,” to the words boldly inscribed on the banner of the Maccabees — “Who is like You among the mighty, O L‑rd,” the Jewish soldier was always aware that he was fighting for objectives far more important and of lasting value than mere territory or booty. They were battling for that which was holy and just . . . and Jewish.

But not all battles waged by Jewish soldiers are fought with sword and spear, gun and plane. There is another war, constant and unremitting, that has been waged ever since the first Jew realized his unique mission on earth. In the forefront of this battle stand not grown men, learned in the arts and skills of warfare. For this is a battle of the spirit, of the soul; and final victory will come only when all evil has been eradicated from the earth. The vanguard, the shock troops, are Jewish children, whose pure thoughts and actions, unsullied by the brutalities and deceit of this world, make them the ideal soldiers in this war.

The foe is not some enemy nation or alien force. The fight is first and foremost within oneself, against those forces seeking to divert one from the proper path. It is against the “Yetzer Horah, — the evil nature within each person; and the goal is to overcome that evil nature, to perfect oneself, to purify and elevate one’s thoughts, speech and deeds. One’s actions then affect one’s friends and surrounding environment, and eventually produces an effect in the entire world.

The name of this army is Tzivos Hashem, the Army of G‑d, the same name carried by the first army of Jews — the hosts of Israel who left Egypt to be a nation that would be a light and beacon to the rest of the world. Every Jew throughout history has been a soldier in this army; and their Commander-in-Chief is no mere potentate or monarch, but G‑d Himself, the King of kings Whose glory fills the whole world.

As in all armies, Tzivos Hashem has weapons with which to do battle. But unlike other armies which must continually update weapons rendered obsolete by advancing technology, the Jewish army has no such problem. Their weapons are eternal, as effective today as they were three thousand years ago. Torah and Mitzvos do not fluctuate, to be discarded at the whim of current fashion. Human nature has not changed, and the age old conflict between good and evil is as vital as ever. G‑d’s Torah and Mitzvos are eternal, and just as true and valid today as in our fathers’ times.

And this is the essential difference between regular armies and Tzivos Hashem. Others conduct their battles with force, physical might, a clash of arms on the battlefield. He who is mightier, and can shed the most blood, is the victor. Not so in Hashem’s army. Victory is not obtained by wreaking havoc and destruction. His weapons, Torah and Mitzvos, are the most pure and sublime — and the most powerful. A Jew’s life, lived according to the dictates of Torah, produces a light so radiant as to dispel the gloom enshrouded night of exile. Automatically, and of itself, the evil of this world is dissipated and conquered. And Moshiach will have come.

Thus a child’s duty as a soldier in this army is to implicitly follow the military manual — our Torah. To be a member of Hashem’s army is a joyous, healthy thing; but also a serious duty. We can do no less than our ancestors, who, upon receiving the Torah from G‑d at Mt. Sinai, responded in a mighty affirmation of faith and trust in their task — “We will do and we will hear.” First comes obedience; then, and only then, understanding and comprehension.

For all too often there exists in an army the independent, the rebellious, or the overly zealous soldier. Even if a soldier is willing to accept punishment for disobedience; or even if an individual sincerely believes his unauthorized action will benefit the mission, no flouting of orders can be tolerated. For no individual soldier, no matter how high in rank, can know the entire state of the army and war, and fully understand the consequences of unauthorized actions. None but the Commander-in-Chief is able to realize the full implications of each and every move; and no individual can be allowed to imperil himself, the army, and its sacred mission. And think not that any action, however insignificant, will go unnoticed. We do not serve in an army controlled by a mortal Commander, but by the L‑rd Himself, Who “stands over him, and the whole earth is full of His glory, and He searches his mind and heart to see if he is serving Him as is fitting.”

Every country’s armed forces are divided into sections, each responsible for a different front. Tzivos Hashem is no different. Our ultimate goal is to reveal to all that “the whole earth is full of His glory.” To that end we are given the directive (Ber. 28.14) “you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east, and to the north and the south.” These then are our divisions, each associated with four of our great forebears: Avraham — South, Yitzchak — North; Ya’akov — East, Dovid — West. And likewise the four mothers of our people: Sarah, Rivkah, Rochel and Leah.

It is these, our illustrious ancestors, who serve as the inspiration for our battle tactics Not for us the study of ancientwars, culling strategies from the campaigns of master warriors of the ages. For Jewish children, plans will be drawn by the examples set by our forebears, recorded in Chumash and Midrash. At different times the specific example of one or another of our forebears is the most effective in foiling the enemy, the evil nature. [E.g. Avraham — loving kindness.] But forget not the basic military tactic of simultaneously guarding the other flanks while attacking on one specific front. Even while concentrating on one outstanding quality, we cannot allow the others to fall by the wayside.

Our success in this battle is assured when we connect it with three basic principles: Torah study, prayers for success, and Mitzvos or good deeds. The first and foremost Mitzvah with which to begin the war is Tzedakah, charity. And it would be most fitting to give in amounts of ten (for example, a dime). For the strength of the Jewish people lies in their unity, and the number ten corresponds to the ten basic categories into which Jews may be classified. Giving a dime thus strengthens and reminds one of the essential bond that exists between all Jews. In addition, the “half-shekel” given by Jews in previous times was worth ten “Gera.” Giving Tzedakah in an amount of ten reminds a Jew that he is but a “half,” incomplete and unfulfilled. Only when he is together with a friend, a fellow Jew, practicing brotherly love, does he become whole and complete. For just as in every army, each soldier depends on a comrade for help, and protection in case of a rear attack — so too, each Jewish child must help another.

But fighting by oneself and helping those already in Hashem’s army is not sufficient. Who has not encountered those ubiquitous posters and advertisements recruiting people for the armed forces? Children, the main soldiers in Tzivos Hashem, have a special task to recruit their fellow youngsters into their army, following the commandment “Love your fellowman as yourself.” All Jewish children must know that they are, from birth, soldiers in Hashem’s army, and conduct themselves accordingly. For every generation has, (in addition to the overall task of transforming the world), its own special mission and goal. Today’s goal is to hasten and ensure the ultimate victory — the coming of Moshiach. And new goals need new measures; we need a mobilization of all available reserves — new Jewish boys and girls.

Even the most willing soldier however, needs occasional encouragement and inspiration to continue in his or her appointed task. Morale is immeasurably strengthened when commendations and medals are awarded for exceptional work. The unsung hero may be a noble concept, but hardly conforms to the realities of everyday life. Hence, at appropriate times, it would be proper to hold assemblies for children, at which our young soldiers receive prizes for outstanding conduct. Their achievements, including the names of friends recruited into the army, is to be noted at the back of each child’s booklet containing the twelve specially selected verses drawn from the Torah and our sages.1 And their Commander-in-Chief, G‑d, is not a remote Being, removed and aloof from the doings of His children. Nor is He a despotic tyrant, content to let His servants toil unnoticed and unloved. As the Commander-in-Chief, responsible for provisioning His troops, He bestows blessings in abundance to those of His soldiers whose conduct is found pleasing.

May G‑d grant that every Jewish child be successful in his or her duties as a soldier in Tzivos Hashem, each rising to attain ever higher ranks in the army. May they, together with all of us, receive quickly in our time the greatest soldier of all, our righteous Moshiach. For nearly six millennium the world has been waiting for that auspicious moment. The time is near. The battle intensifies. The end draws close. And on that great and awesome day the Army of Hashem will once again “go out with a high hand” and “kingship will be the L‑rd’s.”