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Vol. 4 No. 43
Moshe Rabeinu was fully aware that the war with Midyon would be his final act, since he had been told that immediately following the victory, he was destined to die. In fact, he held the power to delay his death by delaying the war with Midyon. He might even have postponed it indefinitely, thereby extending his life by months and even by years. But he did not! Not only did he hasten to obey Hashem's instructions to mobilise the army immediately, but, adds Rashi, he even did it with simchah. He had always placed Yisroel's interests before his own, as we find at Har Sinai, where he would descend straight from the mountain to the people, oblivious to the needs of his own family and to his own personal interests.
And ultimately, he would separate from the wife whom we can assume, he loved dearly, because married life would inevitably interfere with his personal role as leader of Yisroel. His current alacrity in mobilising the troops was therefore totally in keeping with his character, and he considered it his pleasure to avenge the shattered dignity of his people, by thrashing the perpetrators of the disgustingly immoral scheme, even to the total exclusion of any thoughts of his own death. So intense was Moshe Rabeinu's love for his people, that his own life meant nothing in face of their disgrace. ("If You will not forgive them", he had said to Hashem at the golden calf, "then blot me out from the book that You wrote!").
In stark contrast, Chazal, in the Medrash Rabbo, portray the reactions of Moshe Rabeinu's successor, Yehoshua bin Nun, who believed that he would die only after the conquest of Cana'an and the distribution of Eretz Yisroel among the twelve tribes would be completed. Quoting a possuk in Yehoshua, they accuse him of procrastination, of taking fourteen years to conquer and distribute the land when it could have been accomplished sooner. But, instead of living longer, he incurred G-d's anger, and the hundred and twenty years life designated to him were curtailed to a hundred and ten.
Not for one moment may we believe (chas ve'sholom) that Yehoshua's postponement of the capture of Eretz Yisroel was a conscious one. Yehoshua bin Nun, besides being Moshe Rabeinu's successor, was also a Novi, and when we consider that he was chosen to succeed Moshe Rabeinu on the merit of his sheer diligence and dedication to Torah, in a generation which Chazal describe as the greatest one of all time, we must realise that he was one of the most outstanding leaders of all time - second only to Moshe Rabeinu himself. We can therefore safely assume his procrastination to have been entirely in the subconscious. Doubtless, he had other reasons, solid reasons, based perhaps on tactical and strategic integrity, which would ably have justified his delays in the conquest of Cana'an. However, these reasons were evidently sparked off by his subconscious desire to prolong his life, and then utilised as the total justification of his delaying tactics.
Alternatively, this desire to live, simply played a supportive role, causing the inevitably slow progress of war to slow down still further.
Moshe Rabeinu, on the other hand, genuinely loved the people as much as he loved himself. He was also disciplined to such a degree, as to give Hashem's demands and wishes sole priority in his mind, to the total exclusion of his own well-being - indeed, to the total exclusion even of the least effort to prolong his life. So complete was Moshe Rabeinu's love of Hashem and of Klal Yisroel, that his emotions were governed by them too. Neither subconscious counter-interests nor deeper emotions could interfere with his duties towards his G-d and his people, for his subconscious and his emotions were dedicated to them too!
The final Parshah in Pinchas deals with the Mussofim. After giving all the details of what one is required to bring on each Yom-tov, the Torah concludes "These you shall bring before G-d on your festivals, besides your Nedorim (animals that you vowed to bring as sacrifices) and Nedovos (animals that you designated as sacrifices without taking a prior vow)" etc.
Having introduced the concept of Nedorim, albeit in the area of Korbonos, it is necessary to ensure that someone who makes such a neder, fulfills it. From the opening two pesukim of Mattos, we learn that it is up to the heads of the tribes, alias the Beis-din, to force those who take vows to keep them.
The Rashbam links the two Parshiyos even further. He explains how the Torah deliberately mentions the bringing of one's Nedorim on Yom-tov, since it was on Yom-tov that one would usually bring one's Nedorim, in order to avoid transgressing "Bal-te'acher" (the negative mitzvah of not bringing a Korban after its time has expired) before the termination of the third Yom-tov after making the vow. As the Gemoro explains in the first chapter of Rosh Hashonoh (to avoid negating the positive mitzvah of "and you shall come there, and you shall bring there" [Devorim 12]), one would need to bring the Korban already before the termination of the first Yom-tov.
Consequently, the sequence of the two Parshiyos is abundantly clear; "G-d informed Moshe that Yisroel are obliged to bring their Nedorim on Yom-tov, in order to avoid transgressing 'Bal te'acher'. Moshe therefore went and instructed the heads of the tribes to teach the people not to break their vows, not to transgress 'Bal te'acher' by bringing their Nedorim after Yom-tov."
With this explanation, the Rashbam answers the question that was put to him - why does the Parshah begin in such a casual way? Since when does the Torah begin a new topic by telling us how Moshe told mitzvos to the people, without first informing us that Moshe received these instructions from G-d? Now the answer is clear - the mitzvah of Nedorim is contained in the Parshah of Mussofim, and it is there that G-d issued His instructions.
Having established that the Torah is speaking about Nidrei Hekdesh, perhaps we can now explain why the Torah somehow omits the din of "Hatoras Nedorim", mentioning it only by way of hint. Whereas one may nullify most Nedorim, and it is usually even a mitzvah to do so, that is not the case with Nidrei Hekdesh. Nidrei Hekdesh should be fulfilled, not nullified. That is certainly a good reason for the Torah to avoid any direct mention of Hatoras Nedorim.
R. Bachye differs slightly from the Rashbam. He writes that, having told us about "Nidrei Hekdesh" in the previous Parshah, the Torah now adds that there is also such a concept as "Nidrei Hedyot" (ordinary nedorim) and that these may be nullified. It is clear on the one hand, why the Torah only refers to the nullification of vows with regard to Nidrei Hedyot, and not Nidrei Hekdesh, as we explained earlier. But the question that we asked earlier, why does the Torah refer to Ha'toras Nedorim only by way of hint, and not directly, remains unanswered, according to R. Bachye.
The Ba'al Ha'turim also writes: It is the heads of the tribes, i.e. the Beis-din, who nullify vows of Yom-tov, just as they are the ones who fix the dates. And similarly, when Yisroel are in trouble, their leaders take vows (as Yiftach did), as we find with the captains of thousands, who, after the war with Midyon, said to Moshe Rabeinu, "And we have brought the 'sacrifice (gift) for G-d'. And we find this too with Yiftach, though in that case, the story took a rather unfortunate twist.
SOME OF THE DINIM OF A ROTZEI'ACH BE'SHOGEG
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