Simcha Feuerman
Psychology, Torah and the Daf Yomi

The Three Stages of Providence Sotah 43 Psychology of the Daf Yomi

Our Gemara on Amud Aleph discusses the process of announcements made by the Cohen prior to battle, where those persons who may lack courage due to sin or distractions back at home are exempted from the battlefield. The verses state (Devarim 20:3-9):

וְאָמַ֤ר אֲלֵהֶם֙ שְׁמַ֣ע יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל אַתֶּ֨ם קְרֵבִ֥ים הַיּ֛וֹם לַמִּלְחָמָ֖ה עַל־אֹיְבֵיכֶ֑ם אַל־יֵרַ֣ךְ לְבַבְכֶ֗ם אַל־תִּֽירְא֧וּ וְאַֽל־תַּחְפְּז֛וּ וְאַל־תַּֽעַרְצ֖וּ מִפְּנֵיהֶֽם׃

He shall say to them, “Hear, O Israel! You are about to join battle with your enemy. Let not your courage falter. Do not be in fear, or in panic, or in dread of them.

כִּ֚י ה׳ אלקיכם ההֹלֵ֖ךְ עִמָּכֶ֑ם לְהִלָּחֵ֥ם לָכֶ֛ם עִם־אֹיְבֵיכֶ֖ם לְהוֹשִׁ֥יעַ אֶתְכֶֽם׃

For it is your God who marches with you to do battle for you against your enemy, to bring you victory.”

וְדִבְּר֣וּ הַשֹּֽׁטְרִים֮ אֶל־הָעָ֣ם לֵאמֹר֒ מִֽי־הָאִ֞ישׁ אֲשֶׁ֨ר בָּנָ֤ה בַֽיִת־חָדָשׁ֙ וְלֹ֣א חֲנָכ֔וֹ יֵלֵ֖ךְ וְיָשֹׁ֣ב לְבֵית֑וֹ פֶּן־יָמוּת֙ בַּמִּלְחָמָ֔ה וְאִ֥ישׁ אַחֵ֖ר יַחְנְכֶֽנּוּ׃

Then the officials shall address the troops, as follows: “Is there anyone who has built a new house but has not dedicated it? Let him go back to his home, lest he die in battle and another dedicate it.

וּמִֽי־הָאִ֞ישׁ אֲשֶׁר־נָטַ֥ע כֶּ֙רֶם֙ וְלֹ֣א חִלְּל֔וֹ יֵלֵ֖ךְ וְיָשֹׁ֣ב לְבֵית֑וֹ פֶּן־יָמוּת֙ בַּמִּלְחָמָ֔ה וְאִ֥ישׁ אַחֵ֖ר יְחַלְּלֶֽנּוּ׃

Is there anyone who has planted a vineyard but has never harvested it? Let him go back to his home, lest he die in battle and another harvest it.

וּמִֽי־הָאִ֞ישׁ אֲשֶׁר־אֵרַ֤שׂ אִשָּׁה֙ וְלֹ֣א לְקָחָ֔הּ יֵלֵ֖ךְ וְיָשֹׁ֣ב לְבֵית֑וֹ פֶּן־יָמוּת֙ בַּמִּלְחָמָ֔ה וְאִ֥ישׁ אַחֵ֖ר יִקָּחֶֽנָּה׃

Is there anyone who has paid the bride-price for a wife, but who has not yet taken her [into his household]? Let him go back to his home, lest he die in battle and another take her [into his household as his wife].”

וְיָסְפ֣וּ הַשֹּׁטְרִים֮ לְדַבֵּ֣ר אֶל־הָעָם֒ וְאָמְר֗וּ מִי־הָאִ֤ישׁ הַיָּרֵא֙ וְרַ֣ךְ הַלֵּבָ֔ב יֵלֵ֖ךְ וְיָשֹׁ֣ב לְבֵית֑וֹ וְלֹ֥א יִמַּ֛ס אֶת־לְבַ֥ב אֶחָ֖יו כִּלְבָבֽוֹ׃

The officials shall go on addressing the troops and say, “Is there anyone afraid and disheartened? Let him go back to his home, lest the courage of his comrades flag like his.”

Our Gemara then explains who makes the announcements, with there being three stages of expression.

תָּנֵי חֲדָא כֹּהֵן מְדַבֵּר וְשׁוֹטֵר מַשְׁמִיעַ וְתַנְיָא אִידַּךְ כֹּהֵן מְדַבֵּר וְכֹהֵן מַשְׁמִיעַ וְתַנְיָא אִידַּךְ שׁוֹטֵר מְדַבֵּר וְשׁוֹטֵר מַשְׁמִיעַ אָמַר אַבָּיֵי הָא כֵּיצַד מִוְּנִגַּשׁ וְעַד וְדִבְּרוּ כֹּהֵן מְדַבֵּר וְכֹהֵן מַשְׁמִיעַ מִוְּדִבְּרוּ עַד וְיָסְפוּ כֹּהֵן מְדַבֵּר וְשׁוֹטֵר מַשְׁמִיעַ מִוְּיָסְפוּ וְאֵילָךְ שׁוֹטֵר מְדַבֵּר וְשׁוֹטֵר מַשְׁמִיעַ

It is taught in one baraisa: A priest speaks, and an officer calls out his words; and it is taught in another baraisa: A priest speaks and a priest calls out. And it is taught in yet another baraisa: An officer speaks and an officer calls out.

Abaye said: How can these texts be reconciled?

From the words: “That the priest shall approach” (Deuteronomy 20:2), until the words: “And the officers shall speak” (Deuteronomy 20:5), which consist of words of encouragement and inspiration, a priest speaks and another priest calls out.

From the words “and the officers shall speak” until the words: “And the officers shall speak further” (Deuteronomy 20:8), which list various people who are to return home from the battle front because of happy occasions, a priest speaks and an officer calls out.

From the words “and the officers shall speak further” and on, which address those who are fearful and fainthearted, an officer speaks and another officer calls out.

Akeidas Yitschok (97) brilliantly explains these three phases of announcements to be addressing three kinds of providential development.  There are those whose level of devotion to God earns them complete providence. Then there are those who are so distant, that God does not intervene at all.  And, finally there are the many who occupy a mid zone, where they merit some providence after putting in much of their own effort.

The first announcement is directed at the people who live entirely by providence, thus they can march into battle fearlessly and merit protection. This is why the first stage is stated entirely by the Cohen, indicating a complete spiritual connection.  The third stage is for those whose lives are devoid of providence, the sinners, and they are addressed exclusively by the officers, representing a complete lack of spiritual connection. The middle stage, which is a combination of Cohen and officers making the announcements, is addressing the person of moderate providence. He must plant, build and marry and hope that God will bless his efforts. This is represented in the combination announcement of the Cohen and the officers. He may indeed have providence, but he does not know yet if his deeds are blessed, thus he too cannot be sure on the battlefield.

About the Author
Rabbi, Psychotherapist with 30 years experience specializing in high conflict couples and families.
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