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Mesillas Yesharim (ch. 11) cites the interpretation of Medrash Rabba on a verse in Shir Hashirim:

‏"שניך כעדר הרחלים," מה רחל זו צנועה, כך היו ישראל צנועים וכשרים במלחמת מדין.‏

"Your teeth are like a flock of ewes" (Shir HaShirim 6:6). Why are the warriors of Israel compared to a flock of ewes? For the following reason: Just as a ewe is modest, i.e., its tail covers its private parts, so too were the warriors of Israel modest and principled during the war with Midian (see Bamidbar 31); i.e., they did not succumb to the temptations of the promiscuous Midianite women.

(Artscroll translation)

Why are "teeth" a reference to "the warriors of Israel"?

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    Isn't that obvious? Because warriors destroy things, like teeth do – הנער הזה Jan 18 '15 at 5:52
  • 30 white horses on a red hill.... – Scimonster Jan 18 '15 at 20:32
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The way it is set up, I think we need to read Rashi in the passuk beforehand to understand. There the praise is שערך כעדר העזים, Rashi says this is referring to the young and weak. Makes sense. Hair is soft and flexible. The next passuk is praising the teeth. Rashi says this is referring to the powerful and strong. Again makes sense. Teeth are hard.

I don't think the Medrash Rabba is using this idea per se, but the Ibn Ezra and Sforno both take for granted that teeth represent warriors as well, and these Rashis helped to understand why they might. Teeth are tough.

  • Good thought; thanks. I think this might be it. – MTL Jan 22 '15 at 20:36
  • It's interesting to note that in the version of Rashi that I linked to, these two Rashis (on passuk ה and passuk ו) are put together, as if it's one big Rashi.....that could support your guess. I don't know what version of Rashi this came from, though. – MTL Jan 22 '15 at 20:38
  • The listed source for that Rashi is mobile.tora.ws, which does indeed put those two Rashis together. I don't know where they got that Rashi from, though. – MTL Jan 22 '15 at 20:40
  • @Shokhet after this entered my mind I noticed there was only one dot in one of my mikros gidolos which would indicate this, like you said. Funny, I looked up the rabba the yalkut both the mikros gedolos i had. Nothing. I'm sure you did the same legwork. Than I noticed the other Rashi by accident. Ah, Torah and her mysterious ways. – user6591 Jan 22 '15 at 20:45
  • Yup. I'll probably accept this answer, but I'll let it sit a while, since this question came back to the homepage recently. Maybe someone will find a sefer that says something more explicit, rather than our guessing and making diyukim and such. – MTL Jan 22 '15 at 20:48

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