Torah Weekly

For the week ending 22 July 2017 / 28 Tammuz 5777

Parshat Matot - Masei

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair - www.seasonsofthemoon.com
The Color of Heaven Artscroll

Overview

Matot

Moshe teaches the rules and restrictions governing oaths and vows especially the role of a husband or father in either upholding or annulling a vow. Bnei Yisrael wage war against Midian. They kill the five Midianite kings, all the males and Bilaam. Moshe is upset that women were taken captive. They were catalysts for the immoral behavior of the Jewish People. He rebukes the officers. The spoils of war are counted and apportioned. The commanding officers report to Moshe that there was not one casualty among Bnei Yisrael. They bring an offering that is taken by Moshe and Elazar and placed in the Ohel Mo'ed (Tent of Meeting). The Tribes of Gad and Reuven, who own large quantities of livestock, petition Moshe to allow them to remain east of the Jordan and not enter the Land of Israel. They explain that the land east of the Jordan is quite suitable grazing land for their livestock. Moshe's initial response is that this request will discourage the rest of Bnei Yisrael, and that it is akin to the sin of the spies. They assure Moshe that they will first help conquer Israel, and only then will they go back to their homes on the eastern side of the Jordan River. Moshe grants their request on condition that they uphold their part of the deal.

Masei

The Torah names all 42 encampments of Bnei Yisrael on their 40-year journey from the Exodus until the crossing of the Jordan River into Eretz Yisrael. G-d commands Bnei Yisrael to drive out the Canaanites from Eretz Yisrael and to demolish every vestige of their idolatry. Bnei Yisrael are warned that if they fail to rid the land completely of the Canaanites, those who remain will be "pins in their eyes and thorns in their sides." The boundaries of the Land of Israel are defined, and the tribes are commanded to set aside 48 cities for the levi'im, who do not receive a regular portion in the division of the Land. Cities of refuge are to be established: Someone who murders unintentionally may flee there. The daughters of Tzolofchad marry members of their tribe so that their inheritance will stay in their own tribe. Thus ends the Book of Bamidbar/Numbers, the fourth of the Books of the Torah.

Insights

Out of Proportion

“Take vengeance for the Children of Israel...” (31:2)

Ohr Somayach had a unique experience last week.

Virtually the entire student body and staff, together with loyal supporters throughout the world, joined together in a 32-hour all-or-nothing campaign to raise 2 million dollars for the Yeshiva. As it turned out, we raised a bit more than that (see unidy.org/os).

Apart from the amazing bonding experience and the change in the Yeshiva's balance sheet that sees the red climbing back towards the black, and not forgetting the sheer good fun of the whole thing — we picked up much more than all that.

“Take vengeance for the Children of Israel...”

Why does the verse here refer specifically to the vengeance of the “Children of Yisrael”?

When the Midianites caused the Jewish People to fall into the sin of lechery at Sheetim, they were doubly culpable: First for causing the sin, and secondly for the punishment that the Jewish People incurred.

Even though G-d created the world “measure for measure”, when G-d bestows His kindness, He does so disproportionately and in far greater measure than His strict judgment.

If the Midianites were punished for both the sin and the punishment of the Jews, how much more will someone be recompensed for both the mitzvah and its reward that he causes and facilitates another to do.

However much the Yeshiva and its friends made in the campaign in this world, how infinitely more is the reward for bringing so many Jews to do the mitzvah of tzedaka in the World-to-Come!

  • Sources: based on Rabbi Leib Chasman in Ohr Yahil

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