Illuminations #126, Tamuz 5777, Parshat Matot-Masei

KollelNerHamizrach__illumination logo

Illuminations #126, Tamuz 5777, Parshat Matot-Masei

Torah Gems

When the Jewish people went to fight the Midianites, Moshe sent others but did not go himself. In the Parsha we read that Hashem told Moshe to avenge the crime of the Midianites – why then did Moshe delegate this task to others? The Midrash explains that this was because Moshe had lived in Midyan during the time he fled from Mitzrayim. Thus, he had an obligation to be grateful to them.

During Moshe’s stay, the Midyanites did not go out of their way to help him. Nevertheless, Moshe did not join his army in battle against Midyan out of gratitude. If Moshe was grateful even to an unintending benefactor, even more so must we be grateful to someone who has gone out of his or her way to help us.

Another point can be learned from Moshe and this episode. Moshe did not send the tribal leaders either to fight against Midyan. The Baal Haturim reasons that it was to avoid embarrassing the tribe of Shimon, whose leader sinned and was killed for his actions. Had all the other tribal leaders joined the war effort, the absence of the leader from Shimon would have caused them great embarrassment.

Although the tribal leaders would have contributed much to the war, Moshe was unwilling to gain that advantage at the expense of embarrassing the tribe of Shimon. The pain of embarrassment is so great that even in a time of war we must be careful not to cause someone shame.

Parsha Pearls

The tribes of Reuven and Gad requested permission from Moshe to settle on the east bank of the Jordan River. Moshe rebuked them at length for what he thought was a budding revolt. Moshe told them that the rest of the nation would resist going forward without these two tribes. Upon seeing two tribes leaving the nation-wide struggle to overtake the land of Israel, they too would want to take an early leave.

After patiently listening to Moshe’s rebuke, the tribes of Reuven and Gad replied that they had no intention of ignoring responsibility to help conquer Eretz Yisrael. They would be involved in all the battles and only after victory would they return to the east bank of the Jordan. Although their intentions were honorable throughout, they remained silent while Moshe had scolded them. To hear rebuke is a privilege that a person should cherish.

Glimpses of Greatness

Even in his youth, Rabbi Aryeh Leib Alter, author of Sfas Emes, studied Torah diligently. One evening he was so engrossed in his studies that he studied the entire night. During the day, he took a short rest to refresh himself. Unaware that Rav Aryeh Leib had studied the entire night, his grandfather rebuked him for sleeping excessively. Someone who knew the truth asked Rav Aryeh Leib why he kept quiet throughout the scolding.

“To hear admonition from my grandfather was an opportunity that I didn’t want to miss,” said Rav Aryeh Leib. He cited the example of the tribes of Gad and Reuven during Moshe’s reproach.

Halacha Weekly

Q.  If one lives comfortably in Israel, is it permitted to leave Israel to increase existing business? [2-3-47]

A. Rambam, Z”L,(Melachim  5-9) writes that [if one already lives in Israel] it is prohibited to leave the land of Israel and go to the Diaspora to live from that point onwards, except in order to learn Torah, to find a woman to marry, or to save property from the hands of non-Jews. If one leaves for these reasons, one must then return to the land of Israel,  and likewise [it is permitted to leave Israel temporarily] for the sake of business.

Mishneh Berurah (531-14 citing Magen Avraham] writes that it is permitted to leave the Land of Israel for the Diaspora in order to increase business [in Israel]. Machatzit haShekel (531-7, R. Shmuel Kellin, Z”L)  writes that even if a person has great wealth and leaves the land in order to increase his wealth further it is permitted.   A reason explained  in the Sefer Moadim u’Zemanim (5-346, R. Moshe Shternbuch)  is that leaving on business is considered a mitzvah matter because it is for the benefit of the land , because through the increase of business this will increase and strengthen the permanence of the settlement of the those who already live in the land.


This week’s illuminations is sponsored by

The Broyde children in honor of the anniversary of their parents,

Rabbi Michael and Channah Broyde