Parshat Shoftim: The Warrior’s Armor
כִּֽי־תֵצֵ֨א לַמִּלְחָמָ֜ה עַל־אֹיְבֶ֗ךָ וְֽרָאִ֜יתָ ס֤וּס וָרֶ֙כֶב֙ עַ֚ם רַ֣ב מִמְּךָ֔ לֹ֥א תִירָ֖א מֵהֶ֑ם כִּֽי־יְהֹוָ֤ה אֱלֹהֶ֙יךָ֙ עִמָּ֔ךְ הַמַּֽעַלְךָ֖ מֵאֶ֥רֶץ מִצְרָֽיִם׃
“When you take the field against your enemies, and see horses and chariots – forces larger than yours – have no fear of them, for the Lord your God is with you, the one who brought you out of the land of Egypt.”
What if we went about with this kind of confidence. It looks laudable on the surface, but what If instead of wearing masks in a crowded place we only put faith in God? What if instead of opting for a vaccine, we only put trust in the protection of God? This cannot be what the verse is referring to. Would a warrior go to battle without a weapon? No. Would they wage war without armor? No. Still, that weapon and armor might not keep them from being afraid. Once afraid, they are liable to make poor decisions and not fight as confidently as they might otherwise
This is the meaning of the verse: We must take precautions to protect ourselves in the human realm. Whether it’s swords and armor on a battle field, or masks and vaccines in the public arena. After we do so, we find our footing on the foundation of faith. After we prepare to face the challenges that lie ahead, we turn to God to give us the confidence to keep our steps from faltering, so we remain vigilant, ready, and clear-minded as we navigate the battlefield of life. When FDR said “the only thing to fear is fear itself,” he knew that fear distorts even the wisest judgement, and causes the fall of the most well prepared and strongest warrior.