Chamishoh Mi Yo'dei'a

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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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1) Ch. 1, v. 3: "Va'y'hi b'arbo'im shonoh" Rashi explains that Moshe waited to rebuke bnei Yisroel until it was close to the time of his death. How was Moshe allowed to wait to fulfill the mitzvoh of rebuking one's neighbor" (Vayikra 19:17)?

2) Ch. 1, v. 13: "Chachomim" - Rashi comments, "K'SUFIM." What does this word mean?

3) Ch. 1, v. 16: "Vo'atza'veh es shofteichem bo'eis ha'hee leimore" - The Sifri #16 says that even if a similar case has come in front of the judges numerous times, they should not be hasty to judge, but rather, they should investigate the details meticulously. Perhaps there are factors that could change the ruling that only come to light after in-depth investigation. How is this concept derived from these words?

4) Ch. 1, v. 23: "Vayitav b'einai hadovor" - If Moshe was amenable to sending the spies, why is this included in the admonition?"

5) Ch. 1, v. 16: "Bo'eis ha'hee" - What is being pointed out with the words "at that time?"

Answer to questions on parshios Matos-Massei:


1) Ch. 30, v. 2: "Va'y'da'beir Moshe el roshei hamatos" - And Moshe spoke to the heads of the tribes - Why is this parsha placed here after the parshios of sacrifices at the end of parshas Pinchos?

1) In the parsha of sacrifices the vowing to give sacrifices is mentioned (29:39). Our parsha continues with the laws of vows pertaining to secular matters. (Ramban)

2) The previous parsha deals with sacrifices that take place on Yomim Tovim. During Yom Tov, when people aren't occupied with their regular work, there is the opportunity to become light headed and to sin, in particular after imbibing in intoxication beverage. One of the strongest safeguards against sinning in this matter is to take an oath against doing this sort of act. (Tzror Hamor)

3) Mentioning that our parsha was told to the heads of the tribes alludes to the Rabbinic institution of placing officers on Yom Tov in places of public gatherings where there is the fear of light-headedness, especially where there is mingling of men and women. (Tzror Hamor) This does not touch on the vow aspect of our parsha.

4) This alludes to the ruling that one who has made a vow to offer a sacrifice and has been tardy in bringing it, officers come to him to remind him, and if this doesn't help, they force him to fulfill his promise (see gemara R.H. 6a). (Baal Haturim)

5) This alludes to the ruling that one who promises to bring a sacrifice, must do so before three festivals pass. (Paa'nei'ach Rozo)

6) This alludes to the fact that the heads of the tribes, i.e. the Rabbinical court, decides when the Yomim Tovim will take place. (Paa'nei'ach Rozo)

7) This parsha takes place chronologically after the war against Midyon and the conquest of its land was completed. The ensuing conversation among Moshe, the tribe of Gad, and the tribe of Reuvein also took place ahead of this parsha. Since Moshe told the bnei Gad and the bnei Reuvein that they must keep their promise, our parsha of oaths is mentioned adjacent to it, albeit ahead of it. (Ibn Ezra)

2) Ch. 31, v. 4: "L'chol Matos Yisroel" - Rashi quotes the Sifri 35 that this includes the tribe of Levi. We find in the next verse that 12,000 soldiers were conscripted. If we include Levi, it should have been a total of 13,000 soldiers.

1) Rabbi Eliyahu Mizrachi answers that Ephraim and Menashe are considered two tribes only regarding matters pertaining to inheritance of the land, e.g. with the spies. Here, however, regarding the revenge of Hashem in the war against Midyon, they are considered one tribe.

2) The Imrei Emes answers that in total there were 13,000 soldiers. Rashi in v. 5 on the word "vayimosru" (they were given over), explains that they were conscripted against their will, knowing that Moshe would die shortly after the war with Midyon. We know that the tribe of Levi would not take Moshe's imminent death into consideration, but rather would pursue the command of Hashem, as it says in Dvorim 33:9, regarding the sin of the golden calf, "And his brothers he did not recognize, and his sons he did not know." Nothing stood in the way of their fulfilling Hashem's will. So we have a total of 13,000 soldiers, of whom only 12,000 were "vayimosru," conscripted against their will.

3) Ch. 31, v. 21: "Habo'im LAmilchomoh" - The literal translation of these words is "Who are coming TO war." Earlier, in verse 14 we find that they had already come back from waging war, "Habo'im mi'tzvo hamilchomoh." If so, shouldn't our verse also have similarly said "habo'im Mimilchomoh?" Indeed, Targum Yonoson ben Uziel translates, "D'OSU misidrei krovo," - who HAVE COME from waging war.

1) The use of words indicating a future battle alludes to the words of the Chovos Halvovos, shaar yichud hamaa'seh chapter 5. He says that a general returned home from the battlefront having very successfully waged war. A wise man said to him that although he had won the small war against his fellow man, he still had an ongoing major war to fight, the battle with his evil inclination. Elozor hinted to the warriors that they still had this future war, as does all of mankind. (Gan Ro'veh)

If you wonder why this wasn't pointed out earlier during the wars against Sichon and Og, the Holy Admor of Kotzk answers that since Elozor was about to tell the warriors the laws of "gi'ul keilim," the requirement to purge vessels of their non-kosher absorbed flavours, this taught them the lesson that even if no improper matter is seen externally, we must still cleanse ourselves internally, i.e. thoughts. Therefore this was a most appropriate time to allude to the war against the evil inclination, who is especially proficient in pushing people to have improper thoughts.

The Yeitev Leiv answers this by saying that the major battle against the evil inclination is in matters of haughtiness. This trait is the source of many sins. The battles against Sichon and Og involved a large army. When the enemy was vanquished there was not much room for haughtiness. This is not the case with the war against Midyon. The bnei Yisroel were limited to 12,000 (according to other opinions, up to a maximum of 36,000) people. Upon winning so decisively with such a small army against the large nation of Midyon there was much room for haughtiness, hence the allusion to the words of the Chovos Halvovos. 2) This choice of words indicates that Elozor will have authority in the future. Moshe told him to express himself this way while Moshe was still alive, so that the nation will follow the commands of Elozor haKohein Hagodol. (Meshech Chochmoh based on the Sifri #45)

3) This war itself was not yet completed since some of the people who were captured had to be put to death (verse 17). (Rabbi M. Schwab in Ma'yon Beis Hasho'eivoh)

4) 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. 35, v. 27: "V'rotzach go'eil hadam es horotzei'ach" - We find two terms in the Torah for killing a person, "harigoh" and "r'tzichoh," killing and committing murder. As a rule, "harigoh" is used when a person justifiably kills, and "r'tzichoh" is used when a murder has been committed. There are two exceptions with the use of "r'tzichoh." Our verse says "v'rotzach" as does verse 30, "Kol ma'kei nefesh l'fi eidim yirtzach es horotzei'ach." Why is a term that means "murder" used where killing is permitted?

Rabbi Chaim Kanievski shlit"a in Taamo Dikro answers that our verse discusses the blood avenger. Permission is granted to him to avenge the blood of one who was accidentally killed. This is not a court decreed punishment carried out by a private citizen, hence the term "r'tzichoh." Rather, permission is granted to treat the accidental killer in kind. He was somewhat negligent, and death was brought about by his not being careful to avoid bloodshed. In kind, his life is cheapened and a blood avenger may kill him. Similarly in verse 30, it discusses a case where a person was found guilty by a court of committing murder, on the strength of testimony by eyewitnesses. The verse says that if the court did not carry out the death penalty the blood avenger may do so, again justifying the use of the term "r'tzichoh."



See also Sedrah Selections, Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha and Chasidic Insights

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