Illuminations #169, Tammuz, 5778, Parshat Matot – Masai

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Illuminations #169, Tammuz, 5778, Parshat Matot – Masai

Torah Gems

Two tribes asked Moshe to grant them permission to remain on the east side of the Jordan and not to go into Israel proper. At first Moshe refused, but after they explained that they would settle their families and promised that they would go across the river with the rest of the Israelites to fight the battles to conquer the land and then return, Moshe relented and granted them permission.

Moshe did a strange thing. Only the tribes of Gad and Reuven had asked to remain. When Moshe acceded to their request the Torah says that Moshe gave to to the children of Gad, and the children of Reuven, and half the tribe of Menashe. He added half the tribe of Menashe to remain with them when we do not find any request from this tribe to remain and not enter into the Promised Land.

A reason often given was to assure that the tribes remaining and the tribes entering the land would stay in touch with each other. Since it was obvious the two parts of the tribe of Menashe would stay united, they would also guarantee that the other two tribes would do so. Why, however, did he choose the tribe of Menashe?

We might find a clue if we look back to see why Yosef gave Menashe his name when he was born. He called him Menashe because he said that “Hashem has made me forget all my hardship and all my father’s household.” What usually is thought is that he wanted to forget his father’s home. The contrary is true. He wanted to forget the hardships he encountered there but his intention was that every time he called his son by name he would remember his father’s home. 

Hence Moshe had the same intention. This tribe’s presence among the other two tribes would remind them to keep in touch with their brethren tribes.

Parsha Pearls

We read this week about the Cities of Refuge. Six cities were to be designated as places of refuge for someone who killed another person accidentally. Three of these cities were to be named on either side of the Jordan. If the homicide was intentional and the necessary legal evidence was presented the killer was to be put to death. If he killed unintentionally, he is still responsible and has to flee to one of these specified cities and live there.

The question that presents itself is why he must be punished in this fashion when he did not intend to do anyone harm. It was merely an accident that he killed.

We can learn from this that a person is always responsible for all his acts. Chazal say that “a person is always liable.” One may think that he is exempt from hurting others if he did not intentionally act to do so. The Halachah, however, says otherwise. If you damaged or hurt someone intentionally or accidentally, you are liable for the damage you cause. A person should always be on guard and anticipate what may be the results of his actions.

Glimpses of Greatness

The Tzaddik Rav Aryeh Levine left his house on his way to the Mikvah with his grandsonThe two passed by the Mahane Yehuda market. The Rav stopped suddenly and asked his grandson to go into a store and buy soap. The grandson bought it and they continued together towards the Mikvah. Arriving there, Rav Aryeh entered the Mikvah and his grandson noticed that he had forgotten to take back the soap, so he ran in to get the soap, but Rav Aryeh told him not to take it back. On the way back home the grandson asked RaAryeh, “Why didn’t you allow me to pick up the soap?” Rav Aryeh answered, “realize that some people who come to the Mikvah cannot afford to buy soap, so I decided to buy a new soap every week that they could enjoy.

Halacha Weekly

Q. Is it permitted for a man to shave excess facial hair?  [1-YD12-288]

A. Avneh Yishafeh (4-91 , R. Yisrael Pesach Friedhandler, Z”L) writes regarding a man who has hair between his eyebrows and shaves it, or on his hands and shaves it: is there a prohibition involved of lo Yilbosh gever simlat Ishah (That a man should not wear the clothing of a woman)? Is it permitted for him to shave trim the hairs? [He rules] there is no concern in this case  of there being a prohibition of lo Yilbosh gever simlat Ishah.

Similarly, Birchat Yehudah (2-9 YD, R. Aryeh Lev Baron Z”L), and Nishmat Avraham (Mahadurah Chadashah YD 182) in the name of R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach Z”L, permits an unmarried man to remove hair between his eyebrows because it is a physical defect  and there is no concern in this case [as well] of lo yilbosh gever  simlat Ishah.  See also Shevet Hakehati (1-231, R. Shamai Hakehat R. Shammai Kehat GrossZ”Lwho explains that it is prohibited to remove the white from the dark hairs [which is the practice of women when removing excess hair], rather one should shave all the hairs at once.