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05.07.2013 17:10    Comments: 0    Categories: Weekly Parashah      Tags: torah  shabbat  shiur  parashah  

This Shabbat we read the double portion of Matot and Masei. 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.

The Nation of Israel wages war against Midian. They kill the five Midianite kings, all the males and Bilaam, the evil prophet. Moshe is upset that women were taken captive since 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 nation in the war. They bring an offering that is taken by Moshe and Elazar the High Priest and placed in the Ohel Mo'ed (Tent of Meeting/Tablernacle).

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 the nation, 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.

In the portion of Masei, the Torah names all 42 encampments of Children of Israel on their 40-year journey from the Exodus until the crossing of the Jordan River into Land of Israel.

G-d commands the nation to drive out the Canaanites from the Land of Israel and to demolish every vestige of their idolatry.The Jews 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 Levite tribe 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 Tzelafchad marry members of their tribe so that their inheritance will stay in their own tribe. This ends the Book of Bamidbar/Numbers, the fourth of the Books of The Torah - Chazak, Chazak, Ve’Nitchazek!


Points to Ponder on the Three Weeks of National Mourning:


AN IMPORTANT STUDY!  A student of human nature will notice that a clothier will look first at a person’s clothes, an optician will look first at a person’s glasses, a hatter will look first at a person’s hat, a shoemaker will look first at a person’s shoes….  What should the Torah Jew look for when first meeting a person?  The Sefer Siftei Chaim of Rabbi Chaim Freidlander zatz”al, (Middot V’Avodat Hashem I, p. 167) suggests that the first thing we look for is the positive only-- Dan LeChaf Zechut--judging the person in front of us only in a favorable light. In this way, the first questions--Why does he look like this?  Why does he speak like that?  Why does he act in that way?--are all answered! Furthermore, with this initial instinct, the Siftei Chaim writes, we will personally grow immeasurably--for we will not only fulfill the Mitzvot of V’Ahavta L’Reiacha Kamocha (Love Your Neighbor as Yourself and B’Tzedek Tishpot Amisecha (With Justice you shall Judge your people), but we will grow in the most essential Middot/Attributes of not being haughty and  looking down at other people, and concomitantly being humble--recognizing that every man is simply the product of HaShem’s Hashgacha Pratit/Divine Providence and the specific and particular tests, challenges, wisdom, expertise and skill granted to him by Hashem.  If one can seriously master the skill to be Dan LeChaf Zechut--he will be greater than the clothier, the optician, the hatter, the shoemaker…because every time one encounters another person--he will be improving himself immeasurably!

Special Note Two:  HaRav Shlomo Mandel, Shlita, quotes the great Talmudic commentator, the Maharsha (to Bechoros 8), who compares the three week period between Rosh Hashanah and Hoshana Rabbah to the three weeks between Shivah Assar (17th) B’Tammuz and Tisha B’Av.  It is a twinship of process, and a twinship of culmination.  These are days of examination, thinking, repairing, changing one’s mindset and ways, a time in which one must put himself into his best working order.  HaRav Mandel teaches that much of what we must do during this period is to re-forge our relationship with Hashem.  Why?  Let us look at the words of the prophet.  In the Haftarah of Shabbat Chazon, Yeshayahu the prophet (Yeshaya 1:3) laments:  “Yadah Shor Koneinu V’Chamor Eivus Be’alav…--the ox knows its owner, and a donkey his master’s trough, Yisrael does not know, my nation does not perceive….”  If the animals recognize who provides them with their sustenance and enables them to live, function and achieve that which they are supposed to--then we, all the more so, must apply the lessons ‘a million times over’ and recognize HaKadosh Baruch Hu/The Holy One Blessed is He, in all that we do.  HaRav Mandel quotes an incredible Maharal, a Torah commentator, (in Parshat Bereishit) who teaches that if a person is not a Makir Tovah (aknowledges the good done to him/her), then it is forbidden to do a goodness for him/her.  HaRav Mandel explains that it seems like Lifnei Iver/Placing a stumbling block before the blind for a person to do a good deed to someone who will not recognize it--for he will then be punished for being a Kafui Tovah--for denying the good!


Rabbi Yaakov Salomon, Shlita, points out that it is not by coincidence that we are to recite the Birkot HaShachar/Morning Blessings--every day--at the top of the day.  These brachot should definitely reintroduce us to a Hakarah, to a recognition of what Hashem does for us on a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week basis.  It is also no coincidence, Rabbi Salomon adds that the first bracha is Asher Nasan Lasechvi Vinah.  According to one interpretation, this refers to Hashem giving the rooster the understanding to distinguish between day and night.  What is the great understanding here?  After all, this is something that the rooster does day in and day out, when it senses the same thing that it sensed the day before?!  Rabbi Salomon answers that a true appreciation is one in which we thank Hashem for the daily abilities of our legs to walk together in the same direction, for our bodies to be able to be lifted out of bed, and for all of the senses, intellect and gifts that we are blessed with today.  It is not because we had them yesterday that we by any means or ‘automatically’ get them again today.  Will we eat good food today--or dog food?  Will we be able to articulate the words of our brachos and tefillos, the Torah thought and the compliment--or will the words not come out properly, or in disarray?  Will we be able to pass by aisles and aisles of over-the-counter medications in the pharmacy as we go to purchase a tube of toothpaste, without having to purchase any of them?  Will we be able to check “no” to the scores of health and illness related questions on the doctor’s questionnaire when seeing him for the first time?  Remember--when the Holy Temple comes, the foremost result will be that we have an extremely direct and personal relationship with Hashem--if we work on that now, to the extent that we can--how the more ready we will be for the day when our Spirituality will be lifted further and our lives fully fulfilled!  Hakarat HaTov--let us work on it over the Three Weeks with focused Birkot HaShachar, an understanding in our brachot throughout the day--and by recognizing throughout the day how Hashem allows us, guides us and moves us through the circumstances, situations and events of each and every day!

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