by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS MATOS-MASSEI 5762 BS"D
Ch. 30, v. 3: "Lo yacheil d'voro k'chol ha'yotzei mipiv yaaseh" - He shall not desecrate his word according to all that emanates from his mouth shall he do - The gemara K'subos 77b relates that when it came the time for Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi to pass on from this world the angel of death was told to visit him and before taking his life to fulfill his wish. Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi requested that he be shown his place in heaven. The angel of death agreed and lifted him to view it. Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi took advantage of this and jumped into heaven. The angel of death grabbed him by the edge of his garment attempting to pull him out, and Rabbi Yehoshua swore that he would not leave. Hashem said that if Rabbi Y. ben L. never had a vow that he made annulled by a Rabbinic court then his present vow should stand and he should be allowed to remain in heaven, but if he ever had a vow annulled then this vow will also be annulled and he would be removed from heaven.
We can thus interpret our verse to say, "If one never had his word annulled then all that emanates from his mouth will be done." (P'ninim Y'korim) Alternatively: If a person does not desecrate his mouth by saying that which is prohibited or even speaking worthless words, then all that emanates from his mouth, He, Hashem, will do. (Chid"o)
Ch. 30, v. 6: "VaShem yislach loh ki heini ovihoh osoh" - And Hashem will need to forgive her even though her husband has removed the vow for her - Rashi (Sifri #17) explains that these words teach us that if a woman made a vow and willingly transgressed her word, but unbeknown to her, her husband has negated it, she still requires atonement, as indicated by the words "vaShem yislach loh." The gemara Kidushin 40a says that except for the sin of idol worship any sin that a ben Yisroel wants to do, but is thwarted from doing so, requires no atonement, as thought alone is not a sin. If so, why does this woman require atonement? The Chasam Sofer answers that the gemara discusses a situation where the person wanted to sin but was held back from doing so by circumstance. He did absolutely no action. Here, the woman did an action that she thought was a sin. This requires atonement.
Ch. 31, v. 4: "Elef lama'teh elef lama'teh" - One thousand for each tribe - Just as one fiftieth of the bnei Yisroel were conscripted for the war against Midyon, 12,000 out of 600,000, so too one fiftieth of the spoils were given to the Levites. (Kli Yokor)
Ch. 31, v. 8: "V'es malchei Midyon horgu al chal'lei'hem" - And the kings of Midyon they killed upon their slain - What is the intention of the words "upon their slain"? Upon seeing that they were being defeated, the kings of Midyon attempted to hide among their own soldiers who were already slain, feigning that they were dead. However, the bnei Yisroel became aware of this and killed them among those who were already slain. (Tiferes Y'honoson)
Ch. 31, v. 16: "Hein heinoh hoyu livnei Yisroel bidvar Bilom limsor maal" - Behold they were for the bnei Yisroel through the word of Bilom to commit a betrayal - Which word of Bilom caused them to betray Hashem? The gemara Sanhedrin 106a says that this refers to the advice Bilom gave. He said that the only way the bnei Yisroel could be defeated is if Hashem is displeased with them. He counseled that they should cause the bnei Yisroel to sin with the daughters of Moav. However, the Chizkuni says that this refers to the words of Bilom in 23:21, "Lo hibit ovven b'Yaakov," which Rashi explains to mean that even if the bnei Yisroel ch"v sin, Hashem overlooks it. These words brought the bnei Yisroel to laxity with the sin of immorality, as they incorrectly surmised that they would not be punished. It seems that the Meshech Chochmoh did not see the words of the Chizkuni, as he says exactly the same thing.
Ch. 32, v. 30: "V'im lo yaavru chalutzim itchem v'nochazu v'soch'chem" - And if they will not pass over, armed, with you, they will take their inheritance among you - This seems to be a one-sided condition, with the bnei Gad and bnei Reuvein gaining by having the privilege of taking property in the Trans-Jordan, while having nothing to lose if they do not keep their promise, as they would still merit to have an inheritance in the land of Canaan. Likutei Bosor Likutei explains that the down side is that if they do not keep their promise, although they will still receive land in Eretz Yisroel, it will not be as separate tribes, as indicated by the word, "b'soch'chem," among you. Instead they would be absorbed into other tribes.
Ch. 32, v. 33: "V'lachatzi shei'vet Menasheh ven Yoseif" - And to half the tribe of Menasheh the son of Yoseif - We do not find that the tribe of Menasheh requested a portion of land in the Trans-Jordan. If so, why is half the tribe given a portion there?
1) The Ibn Ezra says that they did request their inheritance there, but it was not mentioned, as only one-half their tribe requested it. (This opinion seems to be contradicted by the gemara Yerushalmi Bikurim chapter 1 that states that according to Rabbi Yossi of Galilee one does not bring the first ripened fruit as Bikurim from the Trans-Jordan because the verse says that one must bring it from "the land that You have given me," (Dvorim 26:10). The Trans-Jordan was not given from Hashem's volition, but rather as a result of the request of the tribes. The gemara says that according to this Bikurim should be brought from the area of the half of Menasheh tribe. We clearly see that they did not request it.)
2) The Ramban writes that when Moshe realized that there was so much land available he offered any other tribe that was willing to live there apportion. Half the tribe of Menasheh accepted this offer.
3) The Chizkuni on Breishis 44:13, "Va'yik'r'u simlosom," writes that since Menasheh was sent to retrieve the stolen goblet, a false trumped up charge, and caused the tribes to rent their garments, his descendants were punished by having their inheritance ripped into two parcels, one in Eretz Yisroel and one outside Eretz Yisroel.
4) The Tzror Hamor writes that Moshe gave them a portion with the tribes of Gad and Reuvein so that the merit of Yoseif should protect them.
5) The N'tzi"v on Dvorim 3:16 writes that they were given a portion in the Trans-Jordan because the level of Torah there would be very weak and half the tribe of Menasheh, in particular the family of Mochir, would inject a powerful dose of Torah into the Trans-Jordan community.
6) The Sha"ch writes that this was done to avoid the bnei Yisroel later claiming that those living on the other side of the Jordan River are not part of the bnei Yisroel. The tribe of Menasheh was picked because Yoseif embodies all the bnei Yisroel, as indicated by verse in T'hilim and Amos. As well, the daughter's of Tzelofchod resided in Eretz Yisroel, while their fathers-in-law resided in the Trans-Jordan. This created an awareness that they were a brethren.
Ch. 33, v. 1: "Eileh massei" - Rashi offers a parable. Our parsha relates the travails during their travels, just as a king who had to travel a great distance to have his son brought for healing. Upon their return home the king would say, "Here we slept, here we cooled off, here your head hurt you." The Imrei Emes asks, "How do these happenings correspond to the experiences of the bnei Yisroel?" He answers that "Here we slept" refers to the time of the receiving of the Torah, when the bnei Yisroel slept and Moshe aroused them. "Here we cooled off" refers to the time the bnei Yisroel had their encounter with Amoleik, "asher korcho" (Dvorim 25:18). "Here your head hurt you" refers to their not believing in their head, their leader, when he told them to have implicit trust in Hashem, and they sinned with the golden calf.
Ch. 33, v. 1: "Eileh massei vnei Yisroel .. b'yad Moshe v'Aharon" - These are the travels .. through Moshe and Aharon - The travels of the bnei Yisroel n the desert are listed in much detail and at great length to afford us consolation in our long bitter exile. The writing of these details gives us faith to believe that just as Hashem saved us from the elements of the desert, a most inhospitable and dangerous place, so too, he will take us out of our present exile. If one were to raise the concern that we are not worthy of being redeemed, the verse ends with, "b'yad Moshe v'Aharon." Just as Hashem redeemed them in the merit of the two great leaders, Moshe and Aharon, so too, Hashem will redeem us through both Moshiach ben Yoseif and Moshiach ben Dovid. (Tzror Hamor)
Ch. 33, v. 2: "Va'yichtov Moshe .. l'masseihem al pi Hashem" - And Moshe wrote .. to their travels as per the word of Hashem - Ibn Ezra explains that "al pi Hashem" refers to their travels, that their travels were guided by the word of Hashem. However, Haksav V'hakaboloh disagrees and says that "al pi Hashem" refers back to "Va'yichtov Moshe," that Moshe's recording the travels of the bnei Yisroel in the Torah was as per Hashem's word. The Haksav V'hakaboloh brings a proof to his interpretation, as according to the Ibn Ezra "l'masseihem al pi Hashem" is one phrase and should not have a cantellation stop of "tipcho."
Ch. 33, v. 37,38: "Biktzei eretz Edom, Va'yaal Aharon .. va'yomos shom" - At the edge of the land of Edom, And Aharon ascended .. and he died there - Why was this an appropriate place for Aharon to be buried? Yalkut Shimoni remez #787 relates that when Aharon was told that he would die he followed Moshe up the mountain as a sheep that follows the shepherd, the older brother following the younger brother. The gemara Sotoh 14b relates that Moshe was buried across from baal p'ore to effect atonement for the bnei Yisroel's sinning with baal p'ore. To negate the power of Edom the descendant of Eisov who had the merit of honouring his father, Aharon was buried at the edge of his country, to counter this merit. Eisov honoured only his parent, while Aharon subordinated himself even to his younger brother. (K'hilas Yitzchok)
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