Points to Ponder

Matos Maasei 5775

And Moshe spoke to the heads of the tribes (30:2) – Why did Moshe need to speak to the heads of the tribes first and the people afterward? Rav Zalman Sorotzkin ztl. commented (as a Drash), that sometimes, in an interest to inspire the people, leaders will make promises that they cannot fulfill. The Torah is telling us that even when one is a leader, and the word is for inspiration – K’Chol HYotzai MiPiv Yaaseh. The Chazon Ish ztl  is reported to have started his learning of Nedarim with a younger student with the understanding that each word a person utters should have the requirements of a Neder – that it is only the Chessed of Hashem that people would not be ble to live by that rule and therefore he has created a stronger level of speaking called Neder.

Moshe got angry at the officers of the soldiers (31:14) – Why did Moshe get angry at the officers and not at Pinchas who was the Mashuach Milchama at the time? Rav Dov Eliezerov ztl explained that after Moshe was reminded of the Halacha of HaBoel Aramis Kaanaim Pogin Bo BY PINCHAS, he insisted on treating Pinchas like a Rebbe. To one’s Rebbe, one does not demonstrate anger.

And the land shall be conquered before you (32:29) – Why doesn’t the Possuk use the phrase Lifnei Hashem instead of Lifneichem as a condition for where the land will be conquered? Rav Yechezkel Abramsky ztl. explains that despite the fact that Moshe set the conditions with Bnei Gad and Reuven as Lifnei Hashem, was a result of his speaking WITH THEM in order to impress upon their how far their obligation extended. However, when speaking to Yehoshua and Elazar, he used the phrase Lifneichem to highlight to them that the decision as to when the job was done for Bnei Gad and Reuven was to be made by the Jewish leadership. If they didn’t need them anymore, they could release them.

These are the travels of Bnei Yisrael (33:1) – Why are the 42 stops offered here? The Rambam suggests that each stop further solidifies the truth to the stories mentioned in the Torah. By making a case for each part of the story, it lends credence to the truth of the story as a whole. Rav Chaim Sabato Shlita offered a different perspective: he suggests that the point of mentioning the stops is to note that even intermediary steps on a spiritual journey are important. It is not just the harbor but the voyage that has significance.

For the tribe of Yehuda Calev Ben Yifuneh (34:19) – in regard to the listing of the other Nesiim in Parshas Maasei, the names are preceeded  by an identification as Mateh Bnei except for Yehuda and Binyamin. Why? Rav Shlomo Zalman Zelasnick ztl. explains that Yehuda and Binyamin had Nesiim who were not new but rather continuing on from the first generation – Yehuda was to be represented by Kalev and Binyamin represented by Elidad Ben Kislon who, according  to Rabbeinu Nissim Gaon as cited by the Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh, is none other than Eldad of the famous episode of the Torah and certainly worthy of serving as a Nasi at any  time.

And he would stay there until the death of the Kohein Gadol (35:25) – the Gemara informs us that it was the mothers of the Kohanim Gedolim who would feed the people in Ir Miklat in order to take care of their needs. The Tiferes Yisrael explains why. If the Kohein were to do it on his own, it would take away from his Kavod and appear as if he was afraid of a murderer. The mother doesn’t look afraid. She looks concerned for her son. Moreover, if the Kohein were to pay for everyone, then every poor man would run to Ir Miklat for 3 hots and a cot. They would not benefit for if she passed, they would be stuck in Ir Miklat with no food to eat.

And all women inheriting land should marry within her father’s tribe (36:8) – Ramban notes that it was a Horaas Shaah not to marry anyone out of the Shevet until the 15th of Av of the 14 year after kibbush. Once the division of the land was achieved, it was not necessary to worry about the land moving from one Shevet to the next. The Gemara notes that the Bnos Tzlofchad WERE allowed to marry whomever they want. That’s why we find the words “Zeh HaDavar” only by Bnos Tzlofchad as opposed to the other women. Rav Hershel Schachter Shlita added that in general, it is a good idea to marry L’Tov B’Eineiheim – this is a good idea L’Doros.


Haftorah: Is the Yisrael a slave? (Yirmiyahu 2:14) – Rav Yaakov Kamenetzsky ztl. explains that a slave, no matter how human is not at the same kedusha status as a Yisrael. Hence when a person is an Eved and marries a Shifcha which is the right of the Adon when he is sold by Beis Din, it is a terrible situation when he sells himself. For in those moments, he is removing the Kedushas Yisrael from his offspring. The same is true for the Jewish nation? Are we Avadim who do not see our Kedusha value? How do we allow ourselves to be debased?