Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Matot 5776

The Torah Portion of Matot 

Excerpted and Translated from the the Teachings of Rabbi Gershon Steinberg ztz"l
L'ilui Neshamat HaGaon HaTzaddik R' Gershon Avigdor Ben Chaim ztz"l

"He shall not profane his word, according to whatever comes out of his mouth he shall do." (Bamidbar 30:3) 

Someone who guards his mouth, and doesn't profane it, is on the level of a Tzaddik (Righteous Person) who decrees, and the Holy One Blessed Be He will fulfill everything that comes out of his mouth. (from Mayana Shel Torah)

"He shall not profane his word." (Bamidbar 30:3) 

One should not begin immediately to speak, but rather should think beforehand whether or not there are any words of forbidden speech in what he is going to say. (Ben Ish Chai)  Along these lines, a Tzaddik (Righteous Man) explained the Mishna from Ethics of the Fathers "L'fum Tzara Agara" (in English: "In accordance with the suffering is the reward").  He explained that the Hebrew word "L'fum" could be interpreted as referring to the Hebrew word "Peh" (In English: "Mouth").  Thus the Mishna can be interpreted to be telling us that the mouth can cause you to have suffering, and also the opposite, the mouth can cause you to have reward.

"And Moshe sent them - a thousand per tribe for the army - them and Pinchas Ben Elazar the Kohen to the army..." (Bamidbar 31:6) 

The Midrash asks, didn't the Holy One Blessed Be He say to Moshe "Take vengeance... " (Bamidbar 31:2), that is to say, that you yourself should do it? So how did he send someone else to do it? And the explanation is that because Moshe grew up in the land of Midian, he didn't want to cause suffering to someone who had given him benefit. This is similar to the proverb which says: "A well from which you have drunk water, don't throw a stone in it". The Masters of Mussar (Ethics) say that we see from this how great is the requirement of feeling and showing gratitude, for behold the Holy One Blessed Be He commanded to Moshe "Take vengence for the Children of Israel from the Midianites; afterwards you will be gathered unto your people" . (Bamidbar 31:2) And Rashi says that even though he heard that his death was dependent upon this vengence, he did it happily and didn't delay it. If so, Moshe Rabbeinu gave up his life in order that they should go to take vengence for the Children of Israel from Midian, and also forced the Children of Israel to go out to war against their will because they didn't want to bring about Moshe's death. And in spite of all that, Moshe also did not cancel out the requirement to feel and show gratitude, and did not fulfill the Mitzvah of taking vengence by himself, but rather through his appointed agent.

"And to half the tribe of Menashe." (Bamidbar 32:33) 

The Ramban asks, why did Moshe give to half the tribe of Menashe their inheritance on the other side of the Jordan River? We don't find that they requested to receive a portion and inheritance there. The Chazkeni says that, in truth, the children of Menashe didn't request for themselves an inheritance in the land of Sichon and Og, and only the children of Reuven and Gad requested that. The explanation is that their father Menashe caused the fathers of the other tribes to tear their clothing by the act of hiding Yosef's special goblet in Binyamin' s knapsack, so therefore his tribe's inheritance was given in two separate portions on the two sides of the Jordan River. And so it is found in the Midrash (B'raishit Rabba 84:19), that Menashe caused the heads of the tribes to tear, and therefore his inheritance was torn, half in the land of Jordan and half in the land of Canaan. And the Masters of Mussar (Ethics) ask, behold Menashe did that because of the Mitzvah of honoring his father, for Yosef commanded him to do so, and Yosef the Tzaddik (Righteous Man) had a correct reason for it, so why was he punished for that? And the explanation is, that matters related to the behavior of a man toward his fellow man are very severe, and everyone who hurts another person, even though he does so with good intentions and only harms him inadvertently, in any event he is punished for it. And that is what we see in this case, that in any event Menashe was punished generations after the deed and his inheritance was divided into two portions. Therefore it is necessary for us to learn to be very careful not to hurt or embarrass someone, even with good intentions, because matters related to the behavior of a man toward his fellow man are very severe.

The Torah Portion of Matot has 112 verses. 1 positive commandment, 1 negative commandment.Haftora: "Divrei Yirmiyahu" (Yirmiyahu 1). 

This is Shabbat Mevorchim for the month of Menachem Av.  The Molad is on Yom Rivi'i (Wednesday) at the hour 1:12 with 2 Chalakim.  Rosh Chodesh Menachem Av is on Yom Vuv (Friday).

Pirkei Avot, Chapter 2 (third cycle).

Everyone who mourns about Jerusalem merits and sees her happiness.

May you all have a light-filled and happy Shabbat. 
Shabbat Shalom.

L'ilui Neshamat HaGaon HaTzaddik R' Gershon Avigdor Ben R' Chaim ztz"l, Nilkach L'Bait Olamo Yud Gimmel Tishrei 5772

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