by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHIOS MATOS-MASSEI 5767 BS"D
Ch. 30, v. 3: "K'chol ha'yotzei mipiv yaa'seh" - In its entirety that which is emitted from his mouth he shall do - It is very common for a person in a moment of impetuous excitement to utter a vow, a commitment. When it comes time to fulfill the vow, the excitement has totally worn off, and the burden of complying can be as heavy as a millstone on one's neck. The Torah teaches us that the one who issued the vow must summon up his emotional reserves and fulfill the vow with the same enthusiasm as when it was uttered. "K'chol ha'yotzei mipiv," as with all the emotion and commitment made at the time the vow emanated from his mouth, "yaa'seh," he should have at the time of actually doing it. (Rabbi Zvi of Vodislov, father of the Rebbe Reb Bunim of Parshizcha)
Ch. 30, v. 3,4: "K'chol ha'yotzei mipiv yaa'seh, V'ishoh ki sidor" - In its entirety that which is emitted from his mouth he shall do, And a women when she makes a vow - The gemara Shabbos 32b says that if one sins by not fulfilling his vow, his wife dies. This is alluded to here. The words "v'ishoh ki sidor," are placed right after the command to fulfill ones vows, to teach, "v'ishoh ki sidor," and a wife when YOU will vow, ("Sidor" is either female third person or male second person), is dependent upon your fulfilling it. (Nishmas Chaim)
The story is told of an outstanding young man who was totally immersed in Torah study and mitzvos, who went sour after his marriage. He associated with the negative society in his town of Slonim. Rabbi Eizik Chorif, the leading Rabbinical figure of the town at the time took him to task, and the young man disparagingly said, "I have a most pressing difficulty with the gemara Shabbos 32b, which says that the punishment for not fulfilling one's vows is that his wife dies. I have made numerous vows and have not kept them, and nevertheless, my wife is not only still alive, but is very healthy."
Rabbi Eizik answered that this punishment is administered to one who disregards his vows out of disrespect for the responsibility to keep one's word. A person who has sunk very low in his spirituality could well be eying many young attractive women. He might become enchanted with one and would like to be rid of his wife. He would then make vows and not keep them, with the hope that she would die as a result of this. Hashem will surely not cooperate with him.
Ch. 31, v. 8: "V'es Bilom ben B'ore horgu becho'rev" - And Bilom the son of B'ore THEY killed with the sword - Targum Yonoson ben Uziel gives us a lengthy account of how Bilom was killed by Pinchos. Bilom made use of a negative spiritual power to propel himself and others who were attempting to escape the bnei Yisroel, into the air. Pinchos took flight after him by using the power of a Holy Name. When he caught up to Bilom, Bilom pleaded with him to be spared, and he would onwards only sing the praises of the bnei Yisroel. Pinchos refused, saying that Bilom was the cause of much sinning and death. He then killed Bilom with a sword.
What remains to be explained is the plural form "horgu," THEY killed, as it was only Pinchos. Possibly, since there was an army of numerous people, we credit all the people with killing him. However, Yalkut Shimoni gives another version of what happened. Bilom saw Pinchos closing in on him and he spread out his hands and took flight through the use of a Holy Name. Pinchos flew up into the air after him. Pinchos caught up with Bilom as he was prostrating himself in front of the Holy Throne of Hashem. Pinchos placed the "tzitz," the head adornment worn by the Kohein Godol, on Bilom, grabbed him, and lowered him back to earth. Bilom was brought in front of Moshe and a court was convened, which ruled that he deserving of death, and the verdict was carried out by the court. This explains the plural "horgu."
Ch. 31, v. 14,15: "Va'yiktzofe Moshe, Va'yomer a'leihem" - And Moshe angered and he said to them - He angered, but before he uttered anything he had already calmed down and spoke to them softly, "va'yomer," and not "va'y'da'beir." (Rabbi Zalman Sorotzkin)
Ch. 32, v. 1: "Umikneh rav hoyoh livnei Reuvein v'livnei Gad otzum m'ode" - And there was a vast amount of cattle to the sons of Reuvein and to the sons of Gad very strong - To have a vast amount of cattle, beyond that of other tribes (assuming that they all left Egypt with a similar number) we must assume that the cattle had multiple births, and births one after another. Usually, the offspring would be weak. However, the Torah tells us that in spite of having multiple and closely spaced births, the cattle were very robust. (T'nufoh Chaim)
Ch. 33, v. 4: "Asher hikoh Hashem bo'hem kol bchor" - That Hashem smote in them every first-born - What is the intention of "bo'hem"?
Ch. 33, v. 4: "Uveiloheihem ossoh Hashem shfotim" - And in their gods Hashem carried out punishment - Why of all the happenings that took place when the bnei Yisroel left Egypt is this mentioned? Toldos Yitzchok answers that the Egyptians bewailed their dead first-born all night and only in the morning, when they engaged themselves in their burial, did they become aware of the smiting of their gods. This is because when the dead bodies were brought to the cemeteries, they first noticed this. The Egyptian gods were placed at the cemeteries.
Although this explains why this was not recorded in parshas Bo, at the time of the smiting of the first-born and the idols, nevertheless, why wasn't it mentioned in the beginning of parshas B'shalach, where the verse says, "uvnei Yisroel yotzim b'yod romoh"?
Ch. 33, v. 7: "Va'yisu va'yoshov" - And THEY traveled and HE returned - Why the change from plural to singular?
1) When they came back to pi hachiros they did so in unity, with a united heart, totally trusting Moshe. (Baal Haturim)
2) They followed Hashem's direction of travel. It is as if Hashem went there. (Yalkut Med'r'shei Teimon)
3) The cloud of glory went there. (Abarbanel)
There were seven clouds, so why is this in the single form?
4) It is the practice of the verses to begin in plural and end in singular. (Rabbeinu Myuchos)
Even though Rabbeinu Myuchos offers this novel insight, it seems to be problematic right here, as the verse does not end in the singular form. It goes on to say "va'yachaNU lifnei Migdol.
Ch. 33, v. 7: "Va'yoshov al pi hachiros" - And the nation returned to pi hachiros - This verse bears testimony to the bnei Yisroel's keeping their word, that they would return to Egypt. However, Paroh and his army came upon them militarily, and they were wiped out to a man. There was no further responsibility to keep their word, as the Egyptian nation was decimated, and the Egyptians kept them from returning. (Rabbi Yoseif Bchor Shor)
Ch. 33, v. 9: "Va'yisu miMoroh va'yovo'u Eilimoh" - And they traveled from Moroh and they came to Eilim - The verse does not say the common "vayisu mi va'yachanu b " This is because they had no intention to encamp in Eilim. It was only after there miraculously appeared 12 wellsprings and 70 date trees that they decided to stop there. (Baal Haturim)
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