Rav Isaac Sher zt”l asks: In the prayer of Al Ha’nissim, we thank Hashem (God) for the miracles that occurred, the great strength that Hashem showed us, and the salvation from the enemy. However, we also thank Hashem “al ha’milchamot,” for the actual wars that were fought. What benefit did we get from the wars themselves that we find it important to thank Hashem? It certainly can’t be referring to the outcome of the war, for we already mentioned the salvation from our enemies.
We may answer that when we fight a war with the enemies of Hashem, we are inherently fighting for Hashem’s cause. This builds an inner conviction within us, and we become stronger; more fortified in our spirituality and in our Torah ideals. Thus, the actual war for the sake of Hashem becomes a source of inner spiritual growth for us.
Rav Avigdor Miller zt”l once said that if you want to bring someone closer to taking on a life of Torah, the first thing to do is sit him down to a Gemara. When he begins to fight with his chavruta over the reasonings of the different opinions in the Talmud, then their thoughts become his own thoughts, the Torah’s convictions become his own convictions, and through this, he will eventually take on an authentic life of Torah!
We see from here that when we struggle for spiritual causes for the sake of Heaven, it will only result in more spiritual growth within ourselves. Therefore, we thank Hashem even for the war that we fought.
Adapted from the book “Passion for Perfection” by Usher Smith.