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Parashas Mattos Masei

From Dust to Aristocracy

"Avi, we learned from the first two verses of Hallel that it is our privilege as servants of Hashem to praise and bless Him. Dovid HaMelech continues the psalm by giving us an insight into His greatness. 'From the rising of the sun to its setting, Hashem's Name is praised.'ii Tehillim 113:3 The Radak explains that all of humanity in the four corners of the world, from the rising of the sun in the east to [its setting in] the west, will praise Hashem. Although the nations serve other gods, they realize that Hashem is above them all, as the verse declares, 'High above all nations is Hashem; above the heavens is His glory.'iii Tehillim 113:4 He is far above any praise that any nation or even the angels can possibly extol to Him. The Malbim adds that His Greatness is so incomprehensible, that there is no difference to Him between shomayim (heaven) and aretz (earth). He is so elevated above both of them that He must lower Himself even to look upon shomayim. It is beneath His dignity to do so, and therefore His hashgacha (private supervision) on His creations is due only to His great goodness and His chessed,iiii Chofetz Chaim as the verse states, 'Who is like Hashem our G-d, Who dwells on high, [yet] looks down so low in the heavens and [upon] the earth.'"iiv Tehillim 113:5,6

"Hashem is so kind."

"Indeed His is, Avi, therefore we take it one step further, and say that He even looks down upon this world.3 'He raises the needy from the dust, from the trash heaps He lifts the destitute; to seat them with nobles, with the nobles of his people.'vv Tehillim 113:7,8 His hashgacha reaches down even to the lowly one. This counteracts the nations who say that the fates of the needy, destitute, and barren are in the hands of luck and 'natural laws'. Not true! They are under Hashem's hashgacha! What does He do? He makes ladders in shomayim, and makes wealth fall to the needy one. He lifts up the destitute one, who is even more impoverished, from the garbage heaps - a place lower than the dust. Not only does He just lift him up so that he is no longer needy or destitute, rather He elevates him all the way to the top - to sit with the aristocracy! Not only the nobles of another nation, who did not know him when he was poor, and therefore would find it relatively easy to honor him, but even the upper class of his own nation, who knew him as a poor, destitute person - even they will honor him! 'He returns the barren woman to the home, [as] a joyful mother of children'.vvi Malbim He overturns 'natural laws' to make the barren woman give birth. Happiness replaces her original sadness. For all of these wonders, we are obligated to praise Him."vvii Radak

"Hallelu-ka"vviii Tehillim 113:9

"Rashi brings us a poetic interpretation of the verse. Zion is the barren one. She sits without her children - Klal Yisrael. She will be restored as a joyful mother of her children. This is reflected in the verse, 'Has a land ever gone through its labor in one day? Has a nation ever been born at one time, as Zion went through her labor and gave birth to her children?'iix Yishaya 66:8

"The Vilna Gaonxx as cited in the Metsuda Siddur relates that the verses can be understood in a spiritual sense. Hashem raises up the spiritually poor person, who is completely destitute in terms of Torah and mitzvos. The spiritually needy person is one who may have some knowledge and good deeds but who has sunk into the dunghill of sin. If he earnestly seeks to repent, Hashem will raise him to such a high level of purity that he will be seated with the 'nobles of his people' (the patriarchs and the prophets)."

"How inspiring, Abba!"

"Yes, Avi. The Creator does as He pleases in this world - He lifts up the lowly, and puts down the mighty, as He did for Klal Yisrael in Mitzrayim. All of this in order that every person will plant in his heart and know the reality that all of his success comes only from the Blessed One.xxi Tehillim HaMefurash We can bring this into our personal lives by looking for examples of Divine supervision and intervention. I am sure that we can all identify many instances when Hashem has lifted us up, healed us, provided for us, and saved us from many harmful fates. For all this and more, we praise Him 'Hallelu-ka!'"

Kinderlach . . .

Hashem's greatness is incomprehensible. The nations of the world ascribe Him to the heavens. However, He is so far above, that heaven and earth are relatively the same to Him. Even so, due to His great kindness, He lowers Himself to supervise the events of heaven and earth. He defies 'luck' and 'natural laws' thereby proving that they have no power. He raises the unfortunate ones up from the depths to the highest heights - both physical and spiritual. He gladdens the barren ones with children. He guides and blesses all of our lives. For all this and more, do we praise Him 'Hallelu-ka!'

Selfish Flattery

"Here comes the head of the department," Mr. Cohen thinks to himself. "I can strike up a conversation with him. Then he can see how capable I am. That will increase my chances for a promotion."

"How are you Mr. Jones? How are things going in the marketing department?"

"Not so well, Mr. Cohen. We have a lot of 'dead weight' around here. Mr. Schwartz, in public relations, comes late every day, takes long breaks, and goes home early."

"Oh no," thought Mr. Cohen. "He is speaking loshon hora. What shall I do? Perhaps I should just walk away. Maybe I will put my fingers in my ears. Better yet, I should tell him to stop. How can I do any of those things? Mr. Jones is the head of the marketing department. Doing any of these things will insult him. Then I will never get a promotion."

And so, Mr. Cohen just stands quietly and nods his head as Mr. Jones speaks loshon hora.

* * *

"And you shall not flatter" (Bamidbar 35:33). The Ramban and the Sifrei explain that this verse is warning against flattering an evil person for your own selfish interests. By flattering his wicked deeds, you encourage him to do more evil. The Chofetz Chaim zt"l adds that there is a huge punishment for this sin. Because it defiles the Holy Land, it will ultimately result in exile.

Kinderlach . . .

It is good to tell others good things about themselves. We all need recognition and appreciation. However, the praise must be sincere and from the heart. More importantly, it must be said for the good of the listener. This shows true caring and brings people closer together. Insincere, self-serving flattery is just opposite. Kinderlach, make sure that your compliments come from the heart, and not just the lips.

i Tehillim 113:3
ii Tehillim 113:4
iii Chofetz Chaim
iv Tehillim 113:5,6
v Tehillim 113:7,8
vi Malbim
vii Radak
viii Tehillim 113:9
ix Yishaya 66:8
x as cited in the Metsuda Siddur
xi Tehillim HaMefurash

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