After a Jewish prince and Midianite woman act immorally and are killed, G-d directs the Jewish people to “distress and defeat” the Midianite people “for they distress you with their plots” (25:17-18). How is the Midian threat different from other perils, and how is G-d’s response an appropriate counter to their threat?

Or HaChayim proposes that the Midianites tried not only to kill Jews but also to undermine their spirituality. This command created a barrier between the Jews and those whose every thought and action intends to harm them.

While this mandate is practically helpful in combating those that mean us harm, the inverse can be helpful for those that mean us well. When we are surrounded by people who have our best interests at heart, it is prudent to trust them even when we do not necessarily see the how or the why. Parents know this, children eventually learn this, and true friends appreciate this concept. In the same way that we proactively avoid negative influences around us, we should likewise establish positive environments that foster positivity, security, and growth.