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Rabbi Avigdor Miller zt"l “And Moshe wrote their goings forth according to their places of journeying by the mouth of Hashem” [33:2]
oshe wrote at Hashem’s command. “Said the Holy One blessed is He to Moshe: Write the journeys that Israel journeyed in the Wilderness in order that they know the miracles that I performed for them” (Bamidbar Rabbah 23:1). Even though here nothing more than the mere journeys are mentioned, without relating the miracles. Yet this alone was a major miracle, that they journeyed to this place and then to another place and thus they continued without starvation and mishap. And each place provided them opportunities to be patient and to gain perfection by proper self control and patience.
adolescence and on to adult maturity. He must be grateful also for the continued well-being of his wife and children, and he must always be aware of the tragedies that others had suffered, but from which he had been protected by Hashem.
Rabbeinu Yonah (Shaarei Teshuva 3:17) wrote of “the importance of remembering Hashem’s kindnesses and meditating on them, as was said “You shall remember all the journey” (Devarim 8:2). Thus by reading the narration of the journeys in the Wilderness we perform an important commandment to remember Hashem’s kindness.
Remembering Hashem’s Kindnesses in Your life
Rabbeinu Yonah teaches that this commandment requires us to look back and examine our life’s journeys to recognise Hashem’s kindliness to each of us individually. In one’s journey through life, many perils and illnesses and misfortunes and evil influences hovered nearby, even though he was totally unaware of them. Hashem continued to protect him as he journeyed from childhood to
NOW IN THE FOLLOWING PLACES
This is the method of utilising commandments to the nation in general as admonitions for the individual. And like our Nation today, we too shall look back and understand that it was all done “to do good for you in your end” (Devarim 8:16)
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This weeks Oneg Shabbos Publication is sponsored L'iluy Nishmas In Loving Memory of
Mrs Joy Conway a'h חנה בריינא בת ר' אהרן יצחק ע"ה
נפטרה ר״ח מנחם אב שנת תשע״ז 24.07.17 ה.ב.צ.נ.ת
Some benefits are: Fulfilling a Positive Torah Mitzvah Increased Awareness of the Divine guiding Hand Increased Emunah & Bitachon/Trust in Hashem Appreciation & Gratitude for what we received
Quoted from “Journey Into Greatness” by Rabbi Avigdor Miller ZT’L
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SEDRA SUMMARY Thank you to Chabad.org Matos Moshe Rabbeinu conveys the laws governing the annulment of vows to the heads of the tribes of Israel. War is waged against Midian for their role in plotting the moral destruction of Israel, and the Torah gives a detailed account of the war spoils and how they were allocated amongst the people, the warriors, the Leviim and the Kohen Gadol. (later joined by half of the tribe of Menasheh) ask for the lands east of the Yarden as their portion in the Promised Land, these being prime pastureland for their cattle. Moshe is initially angered by the request, but subsequently agrees on the condition that they first join, and lead, in Bnei Yisrael’s conquest of the lands west of the Yarden. Massei The forty-two journeys and encampments of Bnei Yisrael are listed, from the Exodus to their encampment on the plains of Moav across the river from the land of Canaan. Also in Massei: The boundaries of the Promised Land are given, and cities of refuge are designated as havens and places of exile for inadvertent murderers. The daughters of Tzelofchad marry within their own tribe of Manasheh, so that their father should not pass to the province of another tribe.
e may not like to think of ourselves as conformists but there is ample scientific evidence that to some extent, whether we like it or not, we are conditioned by the environment and society we find ourselves in. In the 1950’s Solomon Asch conducted a series of experiments in which eight people were gathered in a room and were shown a line, then asked which of three others was the same length. Unknown to the eighth, the seven others were associates of the experimenter and were following his instructions. On a number of occasions the seven gave an answer that was clearly false, yet in 75 per cent of cases the eighth was willing to give an answer, in conformity with the group, he knew to be false. Other experiments have shown that customers are less inclined to return a supermarket trolley to the trolley line if when entering the shop’s premises the trollies are not organised in an orderly fashion.
The tribes of Reuven and Gad
the estate which they inherit from
Towards the end of the double parasha this week we read about the six cities of refuge to which an inadvertent killer was instructed to flee to protect him from the vengeful relatives of a victim. 1 Earlier in the Parasha we learn of Moshe’s approval to the proposal of the members of two and half (Reuven, Gad and half of Menasheh) of the twelve tribes to occupy permanently the land east of the River Jordan.2 As a significant minority of the Jewish people were to remain Transjordan, it was of course necessary for protection for inadvertent killers to be offered there too. Surprisingly though, we find that the six cities of refuge were to be divided equally between the two pieces of land the Jewish people were to occupy: three were to be situated on the west of the Jordan and three on the east, meaning that 50 percent of the cities was to accommodate a mere 21 percent of the Jewish population. The Gemara,3 bothered by this statistical imbalance, explains that on the east bank of the Jordan murderers were more common; consequently an equal amount of cities was necessary. The difficulty with this explanation is apparent: the cities of refuge were provided only for those 1 Bemidbar 35:9-15. 2 ibid 32:20-24. 3 Makkot 9b, cited by Rashi.
who had killed inadvertently. Even if there were more murderers on the east bank, why would that have any effect on the number of cities designated for inadvertent killers? Maharal4 offers the following profound interpretation: the fact that premediated murder on the east bank was relatively common had the effect of devaluing life even for the innocent, lawabiding citizen. Because life was valued less, the standard of care adopted by innocent citizens on the east side was far lower than those on the west. Consequently, there were more inadvertent killings since people were – subconsciously - more negligent with human life. We should never underestimate the power of our surroundings and how we are affected, even subconsciously, by the society we choose to live in. Even some of the most important values we preciously cherish, such as respect and dignity for another human’s life, can be unwittingly eroded when we witness and live amongst others that do not share the same values we do. Conversely, living in an environment in which the values we subscribe to are indeed advanced and promoted, can only encourage us to remain committed to those ideals. Indeed, R. Yehoshua Leib Diskin5 understands the directive to judge one’s acquaintance favorably in this light. Seeing another Jew committing a sin inevitably causes that particular sin to become weakened from the perspective of the spectator. When the Torah commands us to judge a fellow Jew favourably it is partly to avoid the wrongdoing in question from becoming an accepted form of behaviour to us. Viewing others in a positive light and finding their good has the effect of the mitsvot of Hashem remaining precious to us. In the beautiful words of Rambam:6 “It is natural for a man’s character and actions to be influenced by his friends and associates and for him to follow the local norms of behaviour. Therefore, he should associate with the righteous and be constantly in the company of the wise, so as to learn from their deeds.” 4 Gur Aryeh, Rabbi Yehuda Loewe, 1526-1609. See Ramban for a more technical answer. 5 Maharil Diskin, Vayikra 19:15. 6 Deot, 6:1.
Do you have a hashkafa question or a thought on Torah, Mitzvos, Judaism/Yiddishkeit that you could uplift other Jews? Please send in your questions or thoughts and the editorial team with select a few to print in the summer edition. Hopefully we will have Rabbonim and Talmidei Chachomim to answer your questions or comment on your thoughts.
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What is a short summary of how the booty was divided?
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Week 6: maaser With a special focus on the mitzva of tithing Israeli produce, this week’s MaaserText asks ‘What is the halachic need for a dedicated Maaser Sheni coin?’
The Federation’s MaaserText service allows you to make one use of their coin, but why is a coin necessary when taking Maaser? If you are separating Terumos and Maasros, one of the resultant tithes is called ‘Maaser Sheni’. The primary mitzvah of Maaser Sheni is to take it to Yerusholayim and eat it there in a state of taharo (purity). As this is not possible today without a Beis Hamikdosh, it is necessary to remove the kedushah from the produce and transfer it to a small coin.
What is special about the Federation’s coins? The halochos of the Maaser Sheni coin are complex and a ‘perutah chamurah’ - special Maaser Sheni coin - is necessary in some cases. Procuring this special coin is a difficult exercise, and the Federation’s MaaserText service makes our dedicated coins available for all members of the community.
Can you provide a brief insight into the considerations which lead to the need for a special coin?
When the volume of produce which has been tithed is small, and the resultant maaser sheni is of almost insignificant value, Halocho teaches that you will not be able to transfer the kedushah onto a coin unless it has already been previously part-used for Maaser Sheni. The Federation’s Maaser Sheni coins have been prepared to meet these requirements.
Maaser Oni must be separated from this year’s produce –should we still text Maaser to MaaserText before tithing? As was discussed in last week’s article, this year is a Maaser Oni year. Establishing the Maaser Sheni/Oni status of one’s produce can prove to be a challenging exercise. In many cases, even after thorough research, halachic doubt will force the produce to be deemed of sofeik – doubtful status. Both Maaser Sheni and Maaser Oni will need to be separated.
The MaaserText declaration covers both options. The final 10% which is verbally dedicated is the subject of a stipulation made by the owner during his hafrosho. When using our short hafrosho text, the user in effect stipulates that if Maaser Sheni is indeed needed, then the said 10% should hereby be Maaser Sheni and be redeemed on the Federation’s coin. If Maaser Sheni is not needed but Maaser Oni is needed, then the 10% should hereby be Maaser Oni. Using this wording, both options are covered. Even in this Maaser Oni year, the public are encouraged to continue to text Maasertext to receive permission to make use of our coin.
Next week, Dayan Y.D. Hool examines why the Federation Beis Din have so strongly encouraged members of the public to separate Maaser.
A Quick Vort: Ma’ayanah shel Torah by Yisroel Avrohom Kaye
The principle behind the Maaser Sheni coin is that Maaser Sheni kedushah which is assigned to a portion of the fruits during the hafrosho declaration must be transfered from the produce onto a coin.
SHAILATEXT 07403 939 613
The pasuk (Bamidbar 31:14,15) says “and Moshe was angry with the officers of the host….and…. said to them: have you saved all the women alive?” The Ma’ayanah shel Torah brings the Shelah HaKadosh who points out that Moshe had not actually given any specific instruction to kill the women of Midyan, why then was he now angry with the officers for having allowed them to remain alive? This incident proves that when it stands to reason that a thing should be done, one must do it without first waiting for an explicit command to that effect. Similarly, Bilaam too said “I have sinned for I didn’t know that You were standing opposite me in the road. Now if it displeases You, I’ll go back (22:34)” Ignorance or failure to understand what should be easy to understand constitute sins in themselves.
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This week’s Shailatext is
לע”נ שמעון בן שרגא ז”ל
Why the need for such detail in the splitting of the booty between the soldiers and the other Jews?
Rabbi Yaakov Yosef Schechter
Author of Seforim, Parshah Pshetl
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Word Scramble “איש כי ידור נדר לד’ או השבע שבעה לאסר אסר על 30:3 ” ככל היוצא מפיו יעשה,נפשו לא יחל דברו “If a man takes a vow to Hashem or swears an oath to establish a prohibition upon himself, he shall not desecrate his word, according to whatever comes out of his mouth he shall do.” Why does the Posuk use what seems to be a superfluous Loshon of – “He shall not desecrate his word” and, “Whatever comes out of his mouth he shall do?” Isn’t it that if he does not desecrate his word, then he has fulfiled what comes out of his mouth? Hakodosh Boruch Hu created two places in a person which houses his understanding and intellect, and they are the brain and the heart. However, for speech Hakodosh Boruch Hu only created one place for it, the mouth, and He placed the mouth in between the brain and the heart. This is to teach us that before one speaks any words from his mouth he should use his intellect to make the correct decision if it is appropriate that the words come out of his mouth, and if he does say them, will he be able to fulfil them. It is only after he has made a firm determination that it could be done, should any words come out of his mouth. After the words came out of his mouth, he should not forget about his words, rather he should use the intellect in his heart to keep a close watch on those words to make sure that they are fulfilled. If one makes sure that he first uses his brain to ensure that he can actually fulfil the potential words he may say, then he will not desecrate his vows. However, one who speaks without thinking it through first, will end up desecrating his vows and his oaths. ()בן איש חי There was once an – עם הארץa man ignorant of much of the laws and customs of the Torah, who did not know the meaning of the words of the Torah, nor did he know how to Daven. Hakodosh Boruch Hu was exceedingly good to him, and blessed him with much wealth and an abundance of male children. Each Leil Shabbos, all of his children would stand in front of him, and he would bless them. This man did not even know one Posuk from any Brochos
TIME4MISHNA DAILY NACH
from which to bless his children. When he went to the Bais Hakneses, he did not take a Siddur, for he did not even recognize the letters of the Aleph Bais, let alone to actually read any words from it. However, there was a time when he walked into the Bais Hakneses, and there was a person with an exceedingly sweet voice, who was saying Korbonos. The person was saying, ” “איזהו מקומןwith a beautiful sweet tune, and then sang on a beautiful note the words, ”“ – “אלו ואלו נשרפין בבית הדשןThese and these are burned in the place where the Altar ashes are deposited.” The man would stretch out these five words with a beautiful tune, longer than the ending of any other Halachos. The ignorant man did not understand the meaning of any of the words said, but thought to himself, why does this man say these five words in such a beautiful Nigun, and stretch it out longer than any other part of Davening? It must be that these five words are great Brochos which he is giving to the Tzibur, and that is why he says it loud and beautifully – so that all can hear him. The man would return to the Bais Hakneses for many days until he memorized those five words, so that he would be able to say them. It was those five words with which he blessed each and every one of his children on every Leil Shabbos. One Leil Shabbos, there was a Talmid Chochom who was a guest by this person’s home. He watched in horror as the father said to each of his children, “These are these are burned in the place where the Altar ashes are deposited.” The Talmid Chochom was trembling and yelled at the man, “What are you doing with your children that you are cursing them on Leil Shabbos – that they should be burned in the place of ashes?” That night, the Talmid Chochom had a dream that he should not have stopped the ignorant man from his Minhag of blessing his children Leil Shabbos the way he had been doing for so long. The man was acting to the best of his ability. Being that Hakodosh Boruch Hu loved him, He took the letters of those five words and rearranged them to make them to
be great Brochos for his children. In Hakodosh Boruch Hu’s great Chesed, He turned that which the man was saying to great Brocha. Shir Hashirim 2:4 ” – “ודגלו עלי אהבהEven though one may, ” – “מדלגskip over letters or words, which could be changing the meaning of the words from good to bad, nonetheless, Hakodosh Boruch Hu loves them, and He fixes them to be in a correct order for good. This refers to one who acts L’Shem Shomayim. We see from this that even if a Tzaddik says words from his mouth which are bad for him, Hakodosh Boruch Hu fixes them to make them for the good of the person. Hakodosh Boruch Hu does not do this for everyone. If one is careful with his words, and makes sure to fulfil his words, then, מידה כנגד מידהHakodosh Boruch Hu will fix all of his words that they be for good. However, if one is not careful with his words, then Hakodosh Boruch Hu leaves his words as is, even if they are Chas V’sholom for the bad of the person. ” – “לא יחל דברוIf one is careful to never desecrate his words, then, ” – “ככל היוצא מפיוwhatever comes out of his mouth, ” – “יעשהfrom a Loshon of being Mesaken, then Hakodosh Boruch Hu will fix all of his words to make sure that they are all for his good. ()עוד יוסף חי One’s words have a great effect upon the worlds above. The thoughts behind the words are crucial. One must not just say words that have no thought, rather one must have good and proper thoughts when saying all of his words. Before one speaks, he must use the intellect that Hakodosh Boruch Hu gave him to determine if they are proper words that he should speak. Will they bring a Nachas Ruach to Hakodosh Boruch Hu? If they will, he should say those words, and then ensure that he fulfils that which he says. One who just does not desecrate his words, is not one who fulfils his words. One can say something and follow through on what he said, yet not have proper thoughts while saying it. The Torah tells us that not only should one not desecrate his words, but he should also fulfil them. May we be Zoche to have the proper thoughts when speaking and utilize the great Koach of speech in our Avodas Hashem.
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Rabbi Daniel Fine
Community Rabbi, Stanmore and Canons Park US; Hasmonean Beis Programme
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Thinking Not Allowed
fter Bnei Yisrael defeated the Midyanites in battle, Moshe suddenly became angry at the soldiers (Bamidbar 31:14). They admitted to him that they needed to bring a korban “to atone for ourselves in front of Hashem,” and then the Torah lists the items of jewellery taken in war from the Midyanites (ibid. 31:50). The Gemara reveals that these intimate items of jewellery taken from the Midyanite ladies (like a kumaz, which looked like the womb) caused many of the soldiers to have impure thoughts. Therefore, the soldiers admitted to Moshe that they felt the need to offer a korban as an atonement for these thoughts. They did not do any forbidden act, but their thoughts were impure. At the start of the parashah we find another instance of sinning in thought alone: a husband has the power to annul certain of his wife’s vows (conditions apply), yet the Torah (30:6) tells us that if a vow is annulled Hashem will still forgive her. Why does she need forgiveness - what has she done wrong? Rashi tells us that this passuk refers to a case in which a woman promised to be a nazir, thus desisting from wine, tumah, and haircuts, and when her husband heard about her vow, he annulled it without her knowledge. Thus, she thought she was still a nazir(ette), and then drank some wine, thus going against her nezirus as far as she is aware. For this, she needs to gain atonement from Hashem. In reality she has done nothing wrong, for she is not a nazir at all since her husband annulled her vow, but because she thought she was sinning, she needs forgiveness - even if later on the truth came out. Why should she need forgiveness at all here - after all, she did not commit any act of sin? The answer is from another Gemara: “thinking of sinning is worse than sinning.” Thoughts are the backdrop to any given act, and thus thinking of sinning is more destructive and ends up causing more sins in the long-run than individual, isolated acts of sin. Moreover, the main part of one’s mitzvos is the thought component - the effect on one’s personality that performing a mitzvah has. Thus, polluting one’s thought component is a grave sin. This is one reason for needing atonement in the above two cases. Let us make an effort to keep our thoughts clean!
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In this week's Parsha we come across two people who are equivalent to a number much larger than themselves. One is worth 12,000 people while the other is worth a mere 36 people. Who are these two people? Clue One was a Malach, Novi and Koihen and the other was a grandson of Yoisef.
ANSWER FROM LAST WEEK [Question: This week's Parsha is the last of a group of six found in three of the first four of the Chamishoh Chumshei Torah. What does this group all have in common and furthermore what makes this Parsha different from the other five in this group?.]
There are six Parshas whose titles are names of people 1) Noach 2) Chayei Soroh in Bereishis 3) Yisro in Shemois and 4) Korach 5) Bolok and 6) Pinchos in Bamidbar so this is the last of the six. In our Parsha Pinchos’s name actually comes only once in the whole Parsha however with the other five their names are repeated numerous times in their Parshios.
Why is there the need at all for splitting up the booty? Why shouldn’t the soldiers who fought keep it all for themselves?
- Middos -
Rav Shlomo Zalman’s Advice to the Mother of Three Young Orphans A widow raising three young children once approached Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, zt”l, and asked for his advice. She said that she did not have a lot of money, but she was somehow able to put a small amount together, and she wanted to do something with it that would be a Zechus for her husband. Some of her friends suggested using the money to buy Seforim or give it to a Gemach, and she asked Rav Shlomo Zalman for his suggestion. Rav Shlomo Zalman thought for a moment, and then he said, “I have the perfect suggestion for you to do something meaningful as a Zechus for your husband, and I am confident that if you follow it carefully, it will be a great source of merit for him. “I want you to take the money, and go with your children to a toy store, and use the money to buy games and toys for them. Then, go home and play these games with your children. Also, make sure to take your children to the park as often as you can, and play with them there. Spend time with your children and create a strong and loving relationship with them. This will make your children happy and wholesome.” Rav Shlomo Zalman smiled at her and said, “Trust me, raising genuinely happy children will serve as the greatest Zechus for your husband!” Torah U’Tefillah: A Collection of Inspiring Insights collected by Rabbi Yehuda Winzelberg To subscribe to weekly stories email firstname.lastname@example.org
On his recent trip to London, Rabbi Paysach Krohn suggested that we all greet our fellow Jew because you make them feel special. See Miracles In Life Every Day
When walking on the street on Shabbos, say Good Shabbos (or Good Yom Tov) to all of your fellow brothers & sisters.
It doesn’t matter if the recipient doesn’t respond, if you don’t like that person or in a rush, it doesn’t hurt to greet someone. QUIZ TIME
גוט שבת שבת שלום
Why were only the living beings (animals and captives) split up but not the other inanimate spoils (like gold and jewellery)?
Rabbi Reuven Chaim Klein
Author of Lashon HaKodesh: History, Holiness, & Hebrew (Mosaica Press)
The author can be contacted at email@example.com
Tribesmen Stick Together
his week’s installment features two words which are not only synonyms, but also homonyms. The word mateh sometimes means “tribe” (almost exclusively in Bamidbar and Yeshoshua) and its plural form serves as the namesake for Parshas Mattos. However, another word for “tribe” in Hebrew is shevet (or shevatim in plural). Moreover, both mateh and shevet share an alternate meaning: they both mean “stick”. Other words for sticks are mishenes, makel, sharvit, and choter. In this essay, we will discuss the different words for sticks in Hebrew and highlight their differences in connotation. Then, using some of that data, we will be able to understand the connection between sticks and tribes, which will help us discern the difference between the two synonyms for “tribe”. Malbim (to Yirmiyahu 1:11) says that the word mateh denotes a stick held by a dignitary, which demonstrates the honour due to him by showing his exalted status. Mishenes is a walking stick upon which an elderly person can lean (mishan means “lean” or “rely”); in other words, a cane. Makel is a rod used for hitting. In Tanach, it generally appears in the context of a shepherd who hits the animals in his charge. (The word makel is probably related to the Hebrew word malkot/makkot, which means “lashes”). Rashi (to Sanhedrin 5a) writes that the word shevet denotes the authority and the associated responsibility. In the context of law, the shevet or shotim is the instrument used for flogging those whose offenses deserve such punishment. Rabbi Shlomo Aharon Wertheimer (1866–1935) explains that these terms originally referred to a stick used for hitting animals and only refer to hitting people as a borrowed usage. The Vilna Gaon (1720–1797) writes that both a mateh and shevet are using for hitting, but differ slightly: to hit with a mateh, one only needs to raise one’s hand a bit in order for the impact to be felt, while to hit with a shevet, one must wind up one’s hit with energy for the impact to be felt. The word sharvit appears in the Megillas Esther as the royal sceptre held by the Persian king Ahasuerus. Some explain that shevet and sharvit refer to the same object, but that sometimes Tanach adds extra r-sounds
to words (just as the pasuk generally calls the ancient Syrian city Damascus Damesek, but sometimes calls it Darmesek). Similarly, Rabbi Wertheimer explains that mateh denotes a stick held by a person in a position of authority. Of all the characters in the Bible who carried a stick, only Moshe’s stick is called a mateh because he held a certain degree of authority unparalleled by any other Jewish leader on account of his dual role as a prophet and king. Moreover, R’ Wertheimer argues that the word mateh is related to the Hebrew word mateh (“inclined”) and refers to the curvature at the top of the stick used for gripping the object. He also explains that mateh and makel are only made from wood, while shevet can be made from wood or metal (see Tehillim 2:9 which refers to an iron shevet). Indeed, R. Yehuda ibn Kuraish (a ninth century Spanish grammarian) writes that the word mateh is specifically a stick made out of dry wood (although rabbinic tradition teaches that Moshe’s mateh was made of blue rock—either sapphire or lapis lazuli). According to R’ Wertheimer, a mishenet is also made of wood, but must be an especially thick branch because a mere twig cannot support a walker. The word choter is probably a Hebraized form of the Aramaic word chutra (which the Targumim use for translating mateh and shevet into Aramaic). R. Wertheimer explains in the name of Rabbi Yaakov Lorberbaum of Lissa (1760–1832) that the three words have different connotations. The word makel has a bad connotation (as it is generally associated with the meting out of punishment), the word mishenet has a good connotation (as it helps support an elderly person in walking), and the word mateh has a neutral connotation. With this, R. Wertheimer explains why the staff with which Moshe performed miracles in Egypt and on the Red Sea is called a mateh: because the effects of his staff were positive for the Jews, but negative for the Egyptians, the Bible uses the word mateh which neither implies something positive nor negative. Citing an explanation from Rabbi Shmuel Dovid Luzzatto (1800–1865), Rabbi Yaakov Tzvi Mecklenburg (1785–1865) writes that the
Parshah words shevet and mateh actually have different meanings, but because they are conceptually related, they became interchangeable. He explains that the word shevet originally referred to the leader of a tribe, while mateh originally referred to the other members of a tribe. The leader of a tribe is similar to a mast upon which a flag is mounted because all the members of the tribe rally around the leader. In this way, the word for a leader of a tribe is homonymous with the word for stick. Since all the members of a tribe are united behind their leader, references to them can be subsumed under the word used for the leader. Thus, the word shevet also came to mean members of a tribe because the leader of the tribe embodies the entire tribe itself. In terms of sticks, he argues that shevet and mateh can both refer to the exact same type of stick, but they refer to different parts of the stick. The word shevet refers to the top of the stick (just as the leader sits atop the hierarchal structure of a tribe), while the word mateh—seemingly related to the Hebrew word lematah (underneath)— refers to its bottom (just as the other members of the tribe live under the leadership of their clan chief). The Malbim (to Bereishis 49:28) writes that the word shevet does not literally mean “stick”, rather it means “branch,” which was the most common item used as a stick. Based on this, he explains that shevet means branch and tribe because each of the Tribes of Israel are simply branches of the greater family tree of Jacob’s descendants. Using the synonyms in question as a springboard for discussion, Rabbi Zev HaKohen Hoberman (1930–2012) sums up the dual role assumed by the tribes of Israel. On the one hand, they are called shevatim because Hashem has granted them certain forms of authority and responsibility over the nations of the world. Yet, paradoxically they are also called mattos (which he equates with the words mishenes and chutra) because they serve as Yaakov’s “cane” in death upon whom he “leans” to carry on his legacy. In that way, they are not autonomous, but simply follow the tradition of their illustrious forefather. Now you can re-read the title of this article and appreciate the pun!
5. The way the booty was split up to the Kohanim and Leviyim is unique to the battle with Midyan. Why was this division not also made with the booty taken from the battle with Sichoin and Oig?
Rabbi Yissocher Frand
Rosh Yeshiva, Ner Yisrael Baltimore
Money and the Kids And they said, “We will build sheep pens for our livestock here and cities for our children.” (32:16)
he Jewish people reached the plains of Moav, the jumping-off point for the invasion of Canaan, which was imminent. But the tribes of Gad and Reuven, rich in livestock, preferred the lush pasturelands of the Trans-Jordan to shares in Eretz Yisrael proper. They asked Moshe Rabbeinu for permission to take their share in the ever hayarden. Moshe berated them for letting the others fight to conquer Canaan while they settled down in their ranches. Furthermore, their reluctance to cross would have a demoralizing effect on the others, just as the report of the Meraglim had demoralised the people thirty-eight years earlier. “This is what we want to do,” they said to Moshe. “We want to build sheep pens for our livestock here and towns for our children. Then we will go quickly at the head of the army and fight until the land is conquered and apportioned. Only then will we return to our homes.” “All right,” said Moshe (32:24), “build towns for your children and pens for your sheep. And make sure you keep your word.” Notice that Moshe reversed the order of their priorities. They wanted to “build sheep pens for our livestock here and towns for our children.” First let us take care of the livestock. Let us make sure we have pens in which to keep them so they don’t wander off into the hills and get lost or stolen.
Cows and sheep are valuable assets, and we have to take good care of them. Then they spoke about building “towns for our children.” Then we will provide our children with a place to live while we are at war. Oh no, Moshe replied. You have it backwards. First of all, “build towns for your children.” Make sure you have attended to the needs of your children. Afterwards, you can also build “pens for your sheep.” First you take care of your children, then you worry about your cattle. The Midrash sums up the exchange with the verse (Koheles 10:2), “The heart of the wise man is on his right, and the heart of the fool is on his left.” Moshe’s heart was on the right. He had his priorities in the correct order. Their hearts were on the left. They gave precedence to secondary considerations. They were more worried about their money than their children. When we look at this incident, we say to ourselves, “How foolish can people be? How warped can their values be? How can anyone put the welfare of his cattle before the welfare of his children?” Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident, something bizarre that happened thousands of years ago. It is an everyday phenomenon. People become focused on their livelihood, on developing a business, on advancing professionally, on building a practice, and their kids get lost in the shuffle. They don’t realize that they are making the exact same mistake as the tribes of Gad and Reuven. But it is true. It happens all too often.
1. The returning soldiers only had to split living beings (animals and captives) but kept all
To show us the great miracle that from the time the animals were captured until they were counted this number remained accurate. No animal died or was stolen or slaughtered. (Malbim quoting Ramban.)
We find this practice can be traced back to Avraham (see Rashi, Bereishis, 14:24). The standard practice was to split the spoils between the soldiers and those who stayed behind to guard their belongings. However, since there were different dangers involved to each, the soldiers who actually entered battle would take a larger share.
Living beings required looking after once the battle had finished and therefore it required guarding afterwards and therefore the burden was on everyone and therefore this booty
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Please could you ensure that there are ample sheets left in shuls for Shabbos before taking one home.
This is what happens when parents give priority to their wealth over their children. The Ksav Sofer raises a question with the latter part of Moshe’s words. After helping the tribes of Gad and Reuven get their priorities straight, he told them, “Make sure you keep your word.” Why was this necessary? The answer, says the Ksav Sofer, is that Moshe knew with whom he was dealing. People who could even think of protecting their money before they protect their children cannot be trusted. They are so intent on their wealth that they can do anything. Therefore, Moshe had to exhort them to keep their word. Rav Tzaddok Hakohen explains that the desire for money is greater than any other material drive, since it is the only one that is insatiable. There is a limit to how much a person can eat, to how many times he can commit adultery, but there is no limit to how much money he can accumulate. The quest for wealth can become more obsessive than any other quest. All too often, the children are the price of the wealth.
ANSWERS was shared. However, all inanimate spoils that would not be a burden for the other people could be kept by the soldiers. (R’ Shimshon Refoel Hirsch) Perhaps another answer is that the other booty could be hidden in sacks and people would not see them and get jealous. Therefore they could keep these for themselves. However, the living beings were openly brought back and were seen by everyone. Therefore, these had to be split to prevent jealousy. The Shach answers that since living beings can walk by themselves, there was no extra bother in bringing them back and therefore to prevent jealousy they were split. However, the other inanimate booty that had to be carried by the soldiers because of this bother were to be kept by them because of their efforts.
other objects for themselves. From these living beings half were given to the other Jews who did not come into battle. From this half left to the soldiers one out of five hundred was to be given as teruma to the Kohanim. From the half that the other Jews received, one fiftieth was to be given to the Leviyim.
Rashi writes (32:24) that the tribes of Gad and Reuven did not return home to the Trans-Jordan until after the seven years of conquest and the seven years of apportionment. They remained in Eretz Yisrael for a full fourteen years. Those little children they left behind — let’s assume they were 3 or 4 years old — how old were they when their fathers returned home? Teenagers! Practically adults. The Midrash tells us that their fathers were shocked to find that their sons had long hair, that they were indistinguishable from their pagan neighbours.
The battle with Sichon and Og was part of the conquering quest towards getting Eretz Yisroel and therefore not parts were to be given to the Kohanim and Leviyim. However, the battle with Midyan was in order to avenge them making the Jews sin and not done to get their land. Therefore, part was taken for the special section of Jews devoted to the service of Hashem, namely the Kohanim and Leviyim. (Ramban, 31:28)
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