JULY 29-30, 2005 23 TAMUZ 5765
"One thousand for each tribe, one thousand for each tribe" (Bemidbar 31:4)
When the Jewish people went to war with Midyan, Hashem commanded them to send one thousand men from each tribe. The word "one thousand" is repeated in the Torah and so the Rabbis deduce that there should be two thousand men per tribe, one thousand to do battle and one thousand to pray for the soldiers' success. What an amazing thing! The battle of the Jews against Midyan was surely Divinely directed. Pinhas was the general and all the soldiers were righteous. Yet they needed prayers for the soldiers to win, and indeed every soldier came back safe and sound, due in great part to those prayers.
Today, when our people in Israel are threatened every single day, when our soldiers are asked to put themselves on the line every time they go on duty, we have to have an equal amount of prayers to protect our brothers and sisters. Let us strengthen our Tehillim, our prayers at the Torah and our prayers in general, for the people of Israel, so that we should also see victory and peace in our days, Amen. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
"The children of Reuben and the children of Gad had abundant livestock" (Bemidbar 32:1)
We know that Hashem told Moshe Rabenu that he would not enter the holy land. Moshe was so disappointed he prayed 515 different prayers, prayers that were heartfelt and full of tears. The Sages of the Talmud ask: Why was he so upset? Did he yearn to eat the fruits of Israel? Of course not! So why did he shake up the universe with his prayers? The answer is that Moshe knew how holy the land was. He knew that any misvah done in Israel is ten times more powerful. In addition to that, any Jew who lives in Israel is fulfilling a misvah every minute, similar to one who sits in a Succah, who also gets a misvah every minute. Therefore, anyone dwelling in Israel should be thrilled with his constant accomplishment of misvot.
Now Moshe is confronted by the tribes of Reuben and Gad. They come and say that they are ready to give up their dwelling in the holy land! Why? They have a lot of
cows and goats! They are ready to give up the spirituality of the land for grass. How did Moshe feel at that moment? Moshe Rabenu, who wanted nothing more than to enter the land, how do you think he felt? Upset, to say the least. What did he say to them? Nothing. He agreed to their request (on condition that they fulfill their army obligation to fight the wars of conquest). Why? Why didn't he rebuke them or explain the holiness of the land? The Seforno explains: In order not to enter into an argument with them. But, you might ask, isn't it worth it to have a short argument in order to give them an eternity of spirituality? No. There are no two ways about it. Moshe Rabenu knew and understood how much damage a brief argument causes. So much damage that generations of spirituality cannot heal and repair.
How much do we have to run away from arguments? Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah
"And Moshe was angry with the officers of the army" (Bemidbar 31:14)
The Talmud states that Moshe was punished for his anger at the officers for having allowed the Midianite women to remain alive. Basing itself on this verse, the Talmud says that if a wise person becomes angry, he will forget his knowledge. In his anger, Moshe forgot the laws dealing with the Midianite vessels. Consequently, Eliezer, instead of Moshe, taught these laws to the soldiers (verse 21). Rabbi Simcha Zissel Ziv pointed out that Moshe's rebuke was correct. The soldiers had erred and deserved censure. Moshe's only wrong was his emotion of anger. Even when a person should rebuke someone, he must remain calm and be careful not to grow angry.
Whenever Rabbi Eliyahu Lopian felt the necessity to rebuke any of his children or students, he would not do so immediately upon finding out about the wrongdoing for fear that he might be rebuking out of anger. He would always allow a sufficient amount of time to elapse to ensure that not a trace of anger remained. Once when one of his children did something that was extremely improper, he waited two full weeks until he censured him.
Once, Rabbi Dovid Kornglass was sharply rebuking a student. During the tongue-lashing, a student who had just become engaged entered the room. Rav Dovid's countenance changed completely as he smiled and wished the hatan well, and he held a pleasant exchange with him. He then returned to the first student with the same fire as before, totally in control of both situations and of himself. (Love Your Neighbor)
"Of every tribe a thousand, of every tribe a thousand, throughout all the tribes of Yisrael you shall send to war" (Bemidbar 31:4)
Rashi explains that the phrase "throughout all the tribes of Yisrael" includes the tribe of Levi with the other tribes. The commentators find this statement difficult to understand. In the next pasuk, the Torah clearly states that only twelve thousand men, representing twelve tribes, went forth as soldiers. "And there were delivered out of the thousands of Yisrael, a thousand of every tribe, twelve thousand armed for war." If the tribe of Levi was included among the soldiers, there should have been 13,000!
Rav Avraham Mordechai M'Gur suggests the following explanation. As stated in the perashah, Moshe's imminent departure from this world was contingent upon this war, as it is stated, "Avenge the vengeance of B'nei Yisrael; afterward you shall be gathered unto your people." When B'nei Yisrael saw that their beloved leader would die soon after this war, they were reluctant to go forward to enlist in this endeavor. This is why the Torah states, "They were delivered." They were compelled to go, even against their will. The members of the tribe of Levi, however, had previously proven themselves to be unique. Their devotion to Hashem transcended even the closest family ties. When they were implored to kill those who had sinned with the Golden Calf, they went forward resolutely to perform this task. They did not distinguish family members. Their complete focus was upon faithfully carrying out their mission.
Hashem's will transcended the love the tribe of Levi had for their Rebbe, Moshe. They were probably the only tribe which was willing to go forward and perform the deed of their own volition. Consequently, thirteen thousand soldiers, including the tribe of Levi, entered the army. Twelve thousand of those soldiers, however, had to be "persuaded" to enter this service. One thousand of them went on their own.
We may derive from this pasuk that objectivity on the part of a Ben Torah is imperative. A true Torah devotee should be able to transcend his own sensitivities toward family and tendencies toward nepotism. Personal loyalties and considerations of kinship should not cloud one's total commitment to Hashem. Indeed, the Sefer Hahinuch explains that the tribe of Levi's objectivity was the prime reason for their designation as the protectors of the unintentional murderers who fled to the Arei Miklat, Cities of Refuge. Their compassionate quality and their profound spiritual affinity especially suited them for this role.
The Leviim were trusted not to kill an unintentional murderer, even if he had slain a good friend or close relative of theirs. Following the episode of the Golden Calf, the Leviim demonstrated that their total commitment to Hashem and His Torah went beyond any personal attachments and allegiances. The Leviim's total adherence should serve as a powerful ideal for us all. (Peninim on the Torah)
This week's Haftarah: Yirmiyahu 1:1 - 2:3.
Every haftarah until this week has been related to the perashah in some way. However, after the destruction of the second Bet Hamikdash, the Rabbis decreed that during the three weeks between Shib'ah Asar B'Tamuz and Tish'ah B'ab, special haftarot would be read. These haftarot detail the punishments that B'nei Yisrael would receive for their sins. Each haftarah, though, ends on a positive note with Hashem giving his guarantee that he will eventually redeem us. This week, Hashem declares that Israel is sacred to Him, and he will bring retribution to the nations that afflict Israel.
A quick tip to boost the power of your prayer. Hazal tell us (Masechet Baba Kama Daf 92A) that Hashem loves the tefilot of one Jew for another so much that anyone who prays on behalf of a fellow Jew with similar needs will have his prayer answered first. A special service has now begun to provide people with names of others who find themselves in a similar predicament. You can call with complete anonymity and get the name of someone to pray for and give the name of someone that needs our prayers. The name of the service is Kol Hamitpalel. Categories include: Marriage; Income; Health; To have children etc.
Call to 646-279-8712 or email firstname.lastname@example.org (Privacy of email limited by the email address)
Please pass this message along. Tizku L'misvot.
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