Points to Ponder

Parshas Matos 5774

Moshe spoke to the heads of the tribes (30:2) – Rav Yehuda Gershuni ztl. notes that Moshe spoke ot the leaders in particular because at times they think that they are allowed to make promises and then not live up to their words – for the good of the people. Hence the Torah notes that Moshe spoke to them in particular reminding them that they should follow that which comes out of their mouths. Rav Kook ztl. would often quip that the sign for a True Tzaddik is not that he commands and Hashem fulfills but rather that he commands and HE fulfills.

When a person makes a Neder he must fulfill that which comes out of his mouth ((30:3) – Rav Chaim Kohein (HaChalban) explains that the concept of a neder is unlike any other prohibition in the Torah. For other prohibitions exist to keep a person away from a Tumah status associated with it. Nedarim are man-made and man-specific. How then are they correlated to Tumah? He answers that each person, at times, needs to understand that there are things in his life that are Mutar but not good for himself for he is weak in regard to them. He needs to be able to show and teach himself to stay away from those things. Other times he needs additional encouragement in other areas and Nedarim work for him there. The goal and the critical message is that the person himself is ultimately responsible to lead an upstanding Jewish life and that in order to lead that life, he must be true to knowing himself best first.

Elef LaMateh Elef LaMateh (31:4) – Why do we need to double mention the 1000 per Shevet requirement? Rav Elyashiv ztl. explains that for each 1000 on the battlefield there were 1000 covering for them in the Yeshivot and Battei Midrashot and 1000 taking care of the needs of the people (See Midrash Rabba here). This is the Gemara’s declaration (Sanhedrin 49a) tht if Dovid was not studying Torah Yoav could not be successful at battle. We need all the parts to work harmoniously --- when we want to be successful.

Each tribe contributed Elef LaMateh (31:5) – Wouldn’t a proportional contribution based on shevet size been more fair and equitable? Why the even number? The Hegyonah Shel Torah explains that the numbers were not a function of the proportions because the population was guaranteed. Indeed each soldier who went, came back. The reason for the numbers was to be a part of the even sharing of the opportunity for Kiddush Shem Shomayim and for Nikmas Hashem in Midyan. Each Shevet was entitled to an even share in these efforts.

Moshe got angry at the soldiers and asked them if they allowed the women to live (31:14) – The Shelah HaKadosh asks why Moshe got angry at the soldiers. After all, when ere they told to annihilate the women? Weren’t they doing what they were told to do? Rav Mordechai Greenberg Shlita explains that they should have not only intuited the message in the law but also the spirit of the law as well and not assumed special dispensation for the women this time. A true Chosid learns to not only observe the law but the spirit contained in it as well.

And Moshe and Elazar the Kohein did as Hashem commanded Moshe (31:31) – The Brisker Rav and Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev both note that we only find the phrase of Kaasher Tziva Hashem Es Moshe when the command was for something that was to be followed in future generations. But the Terumas HaMeches here was a command only in regard to the spoils of Midyan? Why use the phrase Kaasher Tziva Hashem? Maran HaRav Schachter shlita explained that the Kiyum of the actions continue for many generations…the idea of separating Taxes is something that is Noheig L’doros.

We won’t go back until it is settled (32:18) – Why do Bnei Gad and Reuven need to wait until the land was divided? Why isn’t the settling of the land something that can be done not on their watch? Rav Chaim Kanievsky Shlita answers that there is value in making sure everyone finds his/her place. Until you get there, no one has the ability to go home.

Haftorah: I remember the Chessed of your Younger years (Yirmiyahu 2) – What Chessed is under discussion? Was it Chessed that had the Jews follow Hashem out of slavery? Rav Rivlin Shlita is fond of quoting the Malbim who notes that the Chessed was taking on the responsibility to take the first step in committing to Hashem even though His greatness was not as overtly apparent – it was Eretz Lo Zeruah