Chamishoh Mi Yo'dei'a

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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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CHAMISHOH MI YODEI'A - FIVE QUESTIONS ON THE WEEKLY SEDRAH - PARSHIOS MATOS-MASSEI 5767 - BS"D

MATOS

1) 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 woman with whom that person has committed a sin." Of what significance is this?

2) Ch. 32, v. 25: "VA'YOMER bnei Gad uvnei Reuvein" - Why the singular form VA'YOMER, rather than "Va'yomru?"

MASSEI

3) Ch. 33, v. 1: "Eileh massei vnei Yisroel" - These are the travels of the bnei Yisroel - Why mention where they went in the desert?

4) Ch. 33, v. 11: "Va'yachanu bmidbar Sin" - And they encamped in the Sin desert - Is the Sinai desert the same place as the Sin desert, or not?

5) Ch. 33, v. 37,38: "Biktzei eretz Edom, Va'yaal Aharon va'yomos shom" - At the edge of the land of Edom, And Aharon ascended and he died there - Why was this an appropriate place for Aharon to be buried?

ANSWERS:

#1

1) 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."

2) Rabbi Chaim Soloveitchik says that in this 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.

3) 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. (Nirreh li)

#2

1) Rashi says "kulom k'ish echod," they all unanimously replied as one person. The Targum Yonoson ben Uziel also says, "b'askomuso chado," in united agreement.

2) The Baal Haturim says that the greatest person of the two tribes spoke to Moshe. In the same vein as the Baal Haturim, the N'tzi"v says that since these two tribes hoped to live on the Trans-Jordanian side, they created a division between themselves and the rest of the bnei Yisroel. They appointed their own leader and spokesman who spoke to Moshe, hence the term VA'YOMER, in the singular form.

3) The Meshech Chochmoh says that since they offered to go along with the bnei Yisroel to war in the Promised Land, they would be leaving their wives and children behind. They needed permission from their wives to be allowed to do this. Their wives granted them permission, and the unanimous agreement of women as well as men is expressed in the singular form.

#3

1) To show Hashem's kindness, that they didn't wander from place to place after only a short respite (Rashi)

2) To show the greatness of the bnei Yisroel who wandered from place to place at the beck and call of Hashem and that this was a sufficient merit for them to enter Eretz Yisroel (Sforno)

3) To know exactly the path they took until they entered Eretz Yisroel so that we know how to avoid the prohibition of returning to Egypt, which is limited to returning on the exact path that they took after leaving Egypt (commentators on Dvorim 17:16)

4) To show us that the bnei Yisroel made many stops and we will realize that at each place in the desolate desert they neutralized the negative powers that are inherent to an uninhabitable place. (Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh based on the Holy Zohar Shmos page 157a)

5) To show us that they came to many new places, which were no doubt replete with poisonous snakes and scorpions, and yet the bnei Yisroel were protected (Pirush Yonoson)

6) To let the world know that the bnei Yisroel were sustained in food and drink in a truly miraculous manner - Had the verses not let us know that they traveled to areas deep in the desert, one might have thought that they skirted inhabited areas and always had food and drink close at hand. (Rambam Moreh N'vuchim 3:50 brought in Ramban)

7) The names teach us that Hashem's guiding them to each place was in response to their spiritual level. If they were on their way upward, He sent them to more a comfortable location, as indicated by positive names, i.e. "Miskoh" (sweet) and "Har Shefer" (mountain of beauty). If they fell spiritually, Hashem sent them to a very inhospitable place, i.e. "Charodoh" (trembling), "Dofkoh" (banging), and "Moroh" (bitter). (Rabbeinu Bachyei)

8) To teach us what we can expect before the final redemption - It will resemble the exodus from Egypt and many bnei Yisroel will travel in the same desert, as indicated in Yechezkeil 20. (Rabbeinu Bachyei)

9) To teach us that although we will go through extreme trials and tribulations before the final redemption, it will surely come, just as the bnei Yisroel traveled to many inhospitable places before they entered Eretz Yisroel (Tzror Hamor)

10) To teach us that as much as we believe that we grasp the meaning of the Torah, it is still beyond our comprehension, just as we don't know the necessity of including the many locations in the desert that the bnei Yisroel traversed (Tzror Hamor)

11) The 42 stations in the desert allude to Hashem's Holy Name of 42 letters. We therefore do not break up the reading of the mention of these 42 places (see Mogein Avrohom O.Ch. 428:21). (Tzror Hamor)

12) So that if a person comes to any of these locations he should make the blessing "Boruch she'ossoh laavoseinu nes bamokome ha'zeh" (Minchoh V'luloh)

#4

Rabbeinu Bachyei proves that midbar Sin is not the same as midbar Sinai from verse 15, which states that they traveled from R'fidim and they encamped in midbar Sinai. He adds that Sin is located between Eilim and Sinai, as per Shmos 16:1, "el midbar Sin asher bein Eilim u'vein Sinoi."

However, the Baal Haturim and the Chizkuni disagree and say that they are one and the same. Although originally called Sin, its name was changed to Sinai, an addition of the letter Yud, to allude to the Ten Commandments that were given there.

#5

Yalkut Shimoni remez #787 relates that when Aharon was told that he would die he followed Moshe up the mountain as a sheep that follows the shepherd, the older brother following the younger brother. The gemara Sotoh 14b relates that Moshe was buried across from baal p'ore to effect atonement for the bnei Yisroel's sinning with baal p'ore. To negate the power of Edom the descendant of Eisov who had the merit of honouring his father, Aharon was buried at the edge of his country, to counter this merit. Eisov only honoured his parents, while Aharon subordinated himself even to his younger brother. (K'hilas Yitzchok)

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See also Sedrah Selections, Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha and Chasidic Insights


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