פ’ מטות-מסעי תשע”ז
Volume 19, Issue 10
INSIGHTS from the SEDRA
Insights from the Sedra is a project of the Scholar’s Kollel of Great Neck. It aims to provide several questions and answers about the Sedra, culled from various commentaries, including the following: Baal Haturim, Darash Moshe, Vedebarta Bam by Rabbi Moshe Bogomilsky, Torah Treasures by Dov Furer, Wellsprings of Torah by Alexander Friedman, and Kol Dodi by Rabbi Dovid Feinstein, Great Torah Lights by Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Goodman, Something To Say by Dov Wasserman, The Vilna Gaon, and Growth Through Torah by Zelig Pliskin.
The Parshiot of Matos and Masei, whether they are read separately or together, are always read during the “Three Weeks” to encourage and strengthen all of us who are depressed and unhappy during this sad time. They speak of the apportioning of the Land, implying that the promise of Eretz Yisrael, will be fulfilled. When we bless the new month of Av, we refer to it as Menachem Av. The Tisha B’av Kinot (Lamentations) are said corresponding to the Aleph Beis. When the true redemption will come, it will comfort us with all blessings corresponding to the Aleph Beis.
The Parsha of Matos addresses the laws pertaining to vows. Vows, whether they are positive or negative are binding. We are taught that a person should not violate his word, and stand by everything he says. The Torah places great significance on words. Verbal blessings are vital and the Talmud states that not only are the blessings of a Tzaddik of great value, but the blessing of an ordinary person should be esteemed as well. (Torah Gems)
וידבר משה אל ראשי המטות
“Moshe spoke to the heads of the tribes…” (30:2)
The expression of “speaking to the heads of the tribes” is not found anywhere else in the Torah. Why here?
I once saw an interesting answer, very relevant to our times. It is typical of people who seek positions of power to make grandiose promises to the people in the hope of being chosen, but with no intention of ever fulfilling them. In time, people become cynical about their dishonest leaders and the general level of honesty and integrity in all matters declines among the population. Hence, in this chapter that deals with keeping one’s words, Moshe began with the leadership, who will set the tone for all the people. Nothing changes. (Chasam Sofer)
“These were the journeys…” (33:1)
The founder of Chasidism, Rabbi Yisrael Ba’al Shem Tov, taught that these 42 journeys correspond to the 42 spiritual journeys that we make throughout our lives. We begin from birth, just as the Exodus from Egypt is the Jewish people’s national birth. The final journey is to the spiritual Promised Land, the life that awaits us in the afterlife.
Although some of the intervening journeys in the Jewish people’s trek through the desert were accompanied by setbacks, all the stations on our spiritual journey are meant to be holy and positive. If we choose good over evil, we will indeed live through these phases of life in the way that G-d intends. If, like the Jewish people in the desert, we make some wrong choices, we will experience them as temporary setbacks. Although at every step in the journey of life, we strive to make the right choices, we should also recognize that even setbacks can be transformed into positive, growth experiences. (Likutei Sichot)
ולא תטמא את הארץ…כי אני ה’ שכן בתוך בני ישראל
“Do not defile the land…for I, G-d, dwell in the midst of Bnei Yisrael.” (35:34)
Rav Chayim Yaakov Zuckerman (Otzer Chaim) found an interesting fact in a volume called Midrishei HaTorah that adds an extra dimension to G-d being “in the midst of” Yisrael. As the twelve tribes traveled through the desert for forty years in sets of three tribes at all four sides of the Mishkan, the names of the leaders of each middle tribe ended in G-d’s name א-ל – Nesanel, Shelumiel, Gamliel and Pagiel!
Furthermore, they led the second, fifth, eighth, and eleventh tribes. These numbers add up to twenty-six, the gematria of G-d’s holiest name, י–ה–ו–ה. (Otzar Chaim)
והקריתם לכם ערים ערי מקלט תהיינה לכם
“You must designate cities for yourselves that will act as cities of refuge.” (35:11)
The roads leading to the cities of refuge had to be kept wide and clear, so that anyone who would need to use them could do so easily. Signs were also posted at every crossroads, in order to clearly mark the way to these cities of refuge. Similarly, G-d keeps the way to the lifestyle of Torah (our spiritual “city of refuge”) open, accessible, and clear for each of us. IN addition, He sends us signs and signals to help us find the right direction in life.
In order to hear G-d’s voice more clearly, however, we should help others find the right direction in their lives. We should all consider ourselves “signposts”, whose job it is to point others in the direction of life and goodness. When G-d sees that we are showing others the way, he will show us our way more clearly. Ideally, we should try to be more than just inanimate “signposts,” helping only those who come to us in search of the right way. We can be living signposts, reaching out to our fellow human beings and, if necessary, awakening them to the fact that a holy, Divine life should be their highest pursuit. (Likutei Sichot)
A wise person would say: “A person does not stop laughing because he grows old. Rather, a person grows old because he stopped laughing!”
The Scholars’ Kollel of Great Neck will be holding its eighth annual nine days siyum on Wednesday July 26th at Chattanooga Restaurant at 7:00 pm. Please make reservations at $40/person with Steve Zuckerman at firstname.lastname@example.org. For future sponsorship opportunities please call Steve Zuckerman at 516 652 5266 or email email@example.com or Rabbi Lichter at firstname.lastname@example.org. Sponsorships in memory of or in honor of someone are $50.00 per issue.