Points to Ponder

Matos-Maasei 5777

When a man makes a Neder or a Shevuah… whatever comes from his mouth he must do (30:3) – Rashi explains that Neder is defined as when he says Harei Alai or that I will not do something. The problem is that we know that a Neder is on the Cheftza not on the Gavra so what is Rashi talking about? Rav Aharon Leib Shteinman Shlita explains that there must be an error here. Rashi must have define Neder and meant to define Shevuah next.  Sometimes an explanation can simply be an oversight…

He shall not delay his words (30:3) – He should not make his words Chullin (Rashi from the Gemara). This is the source for one’s need to watch his mouth from all Devarim Asurim. Rav Volch Shlita tells a story of a young woman who had suffered from a potential blockage in a main artery in her head and was to undergo surgery. Prior to the surgery, she sought the blessing of Rebbetzin Kanievski z”l who told her to accept to study 2 Halachos from the Shmiras HaLashon daily. When the woman was in pre-op the doctor cancelled the surgery as it appeared unnecessary. When he went to ask Rebbetzin Kanievski for her secret she seemed unsurprised as the Manchester Rosh Yeshiva had noted that those who study Shmiras HaLashon are granted Yeshuos from the Sefer and its application.

And the thousands of Bnei Yisrael were handed over (31:5) – Rashi explains that when the people heard that Moshe’s death would follow the war against Midyan, they had to be forced to fight the battle. This, despite that Moshe had previously they were prepared to stone him. Rashi explains that this was a declaration of their great love for him. However, why does this  demonstrate the “great love”? All it shows is a shallow commitment? Rav Dovid Holzer Shlita explains that the praise is not of the people but instead of the leader. Moshe did not top loving the people no matter what they did or said to him. In the end, they didn’t give up on him either. This is the ultimate show of success by leader.

Elazar spoke to the soldiers who were coming to war (31:21) – Should the proper language be “going” not “Coming (HaBaim)” to war? Why the change? The Shach explains that when Elazar promised them that the spoils will stay in their hands it gave the army the motivation to go to war in the future. This too stresses the idea that when we reward behavior, it makes it more likely that we will see that behavior again.

Moshe asked Bnei Gad and Bnei Reuven “Do you think your brothers will go to war and you will dwell here?” (32:6) – Later, Moshe refers to them as sinners. Ramban explains that he thought they were sinners for they lacked belief in Hashem like the Miraglim did. That is why they agreed not only to fight but to lead the troops in battle. But why did Moshe not trust them? Why was he not Dan L’Kaf Zechus (See Shabbos 127b)? Rav Simcha Zissel Broide ztl. explained that a Manhig must always balance Dan L’Kaf Zechus together with the responsibility not to be a patsy. A leader must first confirm that the commitment to Torah in any philosophy or new action must be strong and only thereafter to look to the individuals and be able to judge them favorably.

You shall not bring guilt onto the land (35:32) – The word Tachanifu comes from the word for flattery. Onkelos explains it to mean that you should not give the land a bad reputation. Ramban adds that when a person engages in the 3 cardinal Aveiros in Eretz Yisrael banishes Kedushas HaAretz making the Issur even more severe. Rav Haim Sabato Shlita explains that this is the intent of the word Yachanif here – it takes the land assumed to be more holy and it makes it into a hypocrite. This is the land that is supposed to be the source of human life and the source of Kedusha and it must be held to a higher standard. When that does not happen, the land naturally expels those who do not let it function the way it is supposed to.

This is the thing that Hashem commanded to Bnos Tzelofchad (36:6) – Usually Zeh HaDavar speaks to things that apply in the future but this was the Halacha only for that moment for those women? Rav Schachter Shlita explained that this was what bothered the Ohr HaChaim Hakadosh too – but that the Torah set the Halacha that they could marry whomever they wanted and that applied to all future generations. The recommendation was to marry from a similar background but that this last point was not a Halacha.  Rav Schachter Shlita added that the Gemara here notes that the issue was not whether women get Yirusha but rather could they get the Pi Shnayim of Tzelofchad based on the fact that the land was already handed over to them from Avraham Aveinu (Was Eretz Yisrael Raui or Muchzak).

Haftorah:  No matter how much lye & soap you wash yourself with, your sin is sealed (Yirmiyahu 2:  ) – In the 4th Perek Yirmiyahu encourages the washing. How does he encourage cleaning if it is futile? The Talmud in Rosh Hashana explains that there is a difference between surface cleaning which is limited and described in the Haftorah and the cleansing of the heart that can effect a Teshuva even when things are deeper. Rabbi Allen Schwartz reminds us that Yirmiyahu’s goal in his Sefer and prophesy was to get the people ready for the Geulah at the end of the 70 years. But it is up to the people to see the word of Hashem the way it is meant to be seen.