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In this week’s parsha, one finds a most-surprising command: Chapter 23 verses 13-15 state that if the Jewish People are at war, they must have a place outside the camp where soldiers will go and dig a hole, go to the bathroom and cover it! Since , as the Torah reminds us, “Hashem, your G-d, walks in the midst of your camp to rescue you…so your camp shall be holy.”

Is this surprising to you? What kind of mitzvah is this, telling us how to relieve ourselves while we’re at war? Aren’t there just some things that are self-explanatory or obvious?

The answer is that although this might be a surprising topic to find in the Torah, it is actually not obvious (especially during war), and it actually has every reason and right to be in the Torah among the other commandments.

Try to explain.

The Torah is giving us a handbook about how to connect with G-d daily. What harder place to find G-d’s presence than a battlefield! With all the death, loneliness and dirt around – it is hard to remember that G-d is everywhere. But we must. And seeing this mitzvah (feeling compelled to follow it) reminds us that Hashem is everywhere and therefore we must always be dignified and try to remain holy and pure.

Discuss: Where do you find it particularly hard to see/feel G-d?

Is there some mitzvah that helps you? Or do you have to come up with your own way of creating a holy environment? What other mitzvot can you think of that are specifically for Jews out at war?