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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Parshas Matos

Ch. 31, v. 3: "Heicholtzu" - Rashi says that although Moshe was aware of his imminent death after the completion of the war against Midyon, nevertheless, he proceeded with joy. How do we know this? Although many answers have been offered by commentators, the Sifri #157 answers this question. The word "heicholtzu" means to send out with alacrity. Moshe would only command that this be done with dispatch if he joyfully did Hashem's bidding.

Ch. 31, v. 14: "Va'yiktzofe Moshe" - Moshe was angered when he saw that the females of Midyon were left alive, saying that they were the cause for the plague among the bnei Yisroel (verse 16). The Yalkut Shimoni remez #785 says that Pinchos responded to this by saying that he had fully complied with Moshe's command. How is this so? Either Moshe's command included the women and Pinchos responded incorrectly, or it did not and Moshe's complaint was unfounded.

In verse 2 we find that Hashem commanded Moshe to do battle with Midyon as "nikmas BNEI YISROEL," - revenge for the bnei Yisroel, since the Midyonim caused the bnei Yisroel to sin and the bnei Yisroel suffered a plague (25:9). This came about by the bnei Yisroel sinning with the women of Midyon. Hence Moshe wanted the women killed as well. However, when Moshe commanded the bnei Yisroel he mentioned "lo'seis nikmas HASHEM b'Midyon," - taking revenge for Hashem. Revenge for Hashem did not include killing women, as waging a war is only against those who have the nature to conquer, i.e. men (gemara Sanhedrin 57). According to this line of thought Pinchos correctly said, "I have fulfilled YOUR WORDS," in the manner you expressed "nikmas bnei Yisroel." However, Moshe responded "Hein heinoh ...... limsore maal BA'SHEM al dvar P'ore," that not only did the women cause the men to sin with them, but this also brought to serving false gods (25:1-3). This brings the women into the realm of being punished as a revenge for Hashem. Therefore Moshe was angered when he saw that the women were left alive.

(Rabbi Yoseif Sho'ul Natanson)

Ch. 31, v. 16: "Hein heinoh" - Rashi (Yalkut Shimoni remez #785) says that these words indicate that they recognized the Midyonite women, saying, "This is the women with whom that person has committed a sin." Of what significance is this? The Har Zvi says in the name of Rabbi Yaakov Kalmas (Rov in Moscow) that the Rashbo on the gemara Kidushin 21b says that the law of a women of goodly appearance, "y'fas to'ar" (Dvorim 21:11), only applies when the person in the army meets her for the first time during war. If however, he has met her before he is not permitted to take her as a wife. Thus our verse stresses that the women left alive were recognized as ones with whom the bnei Yisroel sinned. They had no excuse that they were left alive to take as wives under the purview of the rule of "y'fas to'ar."

Rabbi Chaim Soloveitchik says that in any case these women were not allowed as "y'fose to'ar" because there was a command to kill them because they caused the bnei Yisroel to sin.

There seems to be yet another reason that "y'fas to'ar" doesn't apply. Rashi on Dvorim 21:11 says that the ruling of "y'fas to'ar" only applies when going out to a "milche'mes ho'r'shus," a war called by the king for need of expansion or other similar reason, and not when waging a "milche'mes mitzvoh." The battle against Midyon was surely a "milche'mes mitzvoh," as it was a command given by Hashem to Moshe.

Ch. 31, v. 21: "Habo'im LAmilchomoh" - The literal translation of these words is "Who are coming TO war." Earlier, in verse 14 we find that they had already come back from waging war, "Habo'im mi'tzvo hamilchomoh." If so, shouldn't our verse also have similarly said "habo'im Mimilchomoh?" Indeed, Targum Yonoson ben Uziel translates, "D'OSU misidrei krovo," - who HAVE COME from waging war.

1) The use of words indicating a future battle alludes to the words of the Chovos Halvovos, shaar yichud hamaa'seh chapter 5. He says that a general returned home from the battlefront having very successfully waged war. A wise man said to him that although he had won the small war against his fellow man, he still had an ongoing major war to fight, the battle with his evil inclination. Elozor hinted to the warriors that they still had this future war, as does all of mankind. (Gan Ro'veh)

If you wonder why this wasn't pointed out earlier during the wars against Sichon and Og, the Holy Admor of Kotzk answers that since Elozor was about to tell the warriors the laws of "gi'ul keilim," the requirement to purge vessels of their non-kosher absorbed flavours, this taught them the lesson that even if no improper matter is seen externally, we must still cleanse ourselves internally, i.e. thoughts. Therefore this was a most appropriate time to allude to the war against the evil inclination, who is especially proficient in pushing people to have improper thoughts.

The Yeitev Leiv answers this by saying that the major battle against the evil inclination is in matters of haughtiness. This trait is the source of many sins. The battles against Sichon and Og involved a large army. When the enemy was vanquished there was not much room for haughtiness. This is not the case with the war against Midyon. The bnei Yisroel were limited to 12,000 (according to other opinions, up to a maximum of 36,000) people. Upon winning so decisively with such a small army against the large nation of Midyon there was much room for haughtiness, hence the allusion to the words of the Chovos Halvovos.

2) This choice of words indicates that Elozor will have authority in the future. Moshe told him to express himself this way while Moshe was still alive, so that the nation will follow the commands of Elozor haKohein Hagodol. (Meshech Chochmoh based on the Sifri #45)

3) This war itself was not yet completed since some of the people who were captured had to be put to death (verse 17). (Rabbi M. Schwab in Ma'yon Beis Hasho'eivoh)

Ch. 32, v. 41,42: "Vayikroh es'hen Chavos Yo'ir, Vayikroh loh Novach BISHMO" - After the birth of Rabbi Yitzchok Ausband's shlit"a (Rosh Yeshivas Telshe Cleveland) first son he wanted to name him Avrohom Yitzchok after his father-in-law Rabbi Avrohom Yitzchok Bloch zt"l. However he had a concern because Yitzchok was also his own name and it is the custom among Ashkenazi people to not give the same name to a child as a living parent, grandparent, etc. He sent this question to ybchl'ch Rabbi Eliezer Silver, the Rov of Cincinnati. Rabbi Silver responded by telegram that since the name Avrohom Yitzchok would be the given name and Rabbi Ausband's name was only Yitzchok, they are not to be considered the same names. He added that he had a proof for this from the Torah itself. He did not elaborate in the telegram itself and did not write the proof.

When they met, Rabbi Silver told Rabbi Ausband that he had a proof from these two verses in our parsha. In verse 41 it says that Yo'ir overpowered some communities and then named them "Chavos Yo'ir." In verse 42 it states that Novach overpowered K'nos and its environs and then named it "Novah BISHMO," - in HIS NAME. Why doesn't the earlier verse also say "Chavos Yo'ir BISHMO?" We see from this that the addition of the word Chavos creates a new name, and it is no longer in HIS NAME.

Although we find in Dvorim 3:14, "Vayikroh osom AL SHMO ...... Chavos Yo'ir," the term AL SHMO is not the same as BISHMO. BISHMO means "IN his own name," while AL SHMO means "as a REMEMBRANCE for his name."

Parshas Massei

Ch. 33, v. 16: "Va'yisu miMidbar Sinai va'yachanu b'kivros Hataavoh" - In a manner of drush - "And they travelled taking along with themselves the values of the Torah, which they received at Har Sinai. With this they were able to subdue and bury their lust."

Ch. 33, v. 38: "Va'yaal Aharon haKohein el Hor Hohor ...... va'yomos shom" - The Ben Y'hoyodo in his commentary on gemara Sukoh 25a d.h. "Rebbi Yitzchok" says that Nodov and Avihu, the two sons of Aharon who died during the dedication of the Mishkon, are buried in Hor Hohor alongside Aharon. There might be an allusion to this from the first word of this verse, "Va'yaal," whose numeric value of 86 equals that of "Nodov v'Avihu."

Ch. 33, v. 38: "Bachodesh hachamishi b'echod lachodesh" - The Trumas Ha'deshen asks why the Torah doesn't give us the exact date of Aharon's death earlier in parshas Chukas, where his death is also mentioned (20:28). He answers that since in our parsha right after Aharon's death the incident of K'naan wanting to wage war with the bnei Yisroel (gemara R.H. 3a) is mentioned (verse 40), it is appropriate to mention the date of Aharon's death, which is in the month of Ov, thus indicating the concept mentioned in the gemara Taanis 29b, that in the month of Ov the fortune of Yisroel is negative.

It is interesting to note that the Ralbag says that the "fifth month" mentioned in our verse refers not to Ov, but rather to Shvat, since the intention of this verse is to count the months starting with Nison. However, the Targum Yonoson ben Uziel clearly states in parshas Chukas 20:28 that Aharon died on the first day of the month of Ov.

Ch. 33, v. 9: "V'Aharon ben sholosh v'esrim u'm'as shonoh b'moso" - Where do we find the number of years of Aharon's life used as a mnemonic, a prompt, to remind us of the number 123 in regard to something being done or appearing that number of times? Answer next week bez"H.

Ch. 36, v. 13: "Y'reicho" - This is the final word of Chumosh Bmidbar. The Paa'nei'ach Rozo says that if we add the numeric values of the last letters of the last words of each of the five Chumoshim, "b'Mitroyi*M* (Breishis 50:26), masseihe*M* (Shmos 40:38), Sino*Y* (Vayikroh 27:34), Y'reich*O* (our verse), and Yisroe*L* (Dvorim 34:12), Mem-Mem-Yud-Vov-Lamed, we have a total of 126. This is he same as "ONOV," referring to Moshe, the most modest person who walked the face of the earth, - "V'ho'ish Moshe ONOV m'ode mikole ho'odom asher al pnei ho'adomoh" (Bmidbar 12:3).

Rabbi Yitzchok Katz, son-in-law of the Mahara"l of Prague, explains that the allusion to Moshe's great modesty lies in the last letters of the last words to indicate that although he mastered the Torah all the way through in its entirety, he nevertheless remained modest. The Chid"o in his work on T'hilim, T'hiloh l'Dovid, on chapter 67 says that the allusion to Moshe's great modesty lies in the last letters of the last words to indicate that only a person who has true modesty is capable of mastering the Torah in its entirety.

The Ari z"l says that the custom to say CHAZAK 3 times (The custom among almost all Ashkenazic congregations is to say "Chazak chazak v'nis'cha'zeik.) also alludes to Moshe, as their numeric values are the same.



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