CHAMISHOH MI YODEI'A - FIVE QUESTIONS ON THE WEEKLY SEDRAH - PARSHAS MATOS 5768 - BS"D
1) Ch. 30, v. 6: "VaShem yislach loh ki heini ovihoh osoh" - And Hashem will need to forgive her even though her husband has removed the vow for her - Rashi (Sifri #17) explains that these words teach us that if a woman made a vow and willingly transgressed her word, but unbeknown to her, her husband has negated it, she still requires atonement, as indicated by the words "vaShem yislach loh." The gemara Kidushin 40a says that except for the sin of idol worship any sin that a ben Yisroel wants to do, but is thwarted from doing so, requires no atonement, as thought alone is not a sin. If so, why does this woman require atonement?
2) Ch. 30, v. 6: "VaShem yislach loh ki heini ovihoh osoh" - Rashi (Sifri #17) says that this verse is discussing a woman who has vowed to become a "noziroh" whose father has become aware of her vow and has annulled it. She was unaware of his nullification and she drank wine and defiled herself to the dead. She requires atonement because when she acted she was unaware that her vow was nullified. Surely one who transgresses a vow that was not nullified requires atonement.
Why are specifically examples of transgressing "nozir" rules given, and once they are given why wasn't the prohibition of cutting one's hair also mentioned?
3) Ch. 31, v. 6: "Va'yishlach osom Moshe" - And Moshe sent them - Hashem commanded Moshe to take revenge upon Midyon (verse 2). If so, why didn't Moshe himself also join the ranks of soldiers?
4) Ch. 31, v. 6: "V'es Pinchos" - And Pinchos - Rashi explains that Pinchos was sent rather than Elozor because Pinchos began the mitzvoh by killing Kozbi who was a Midyanite. "He who has begun a mitzvoh shall be the one to complete it." The killing of Kozbi was incidental to the mitzvoh of killing Zimri. We don't go around killing non-Jews who commit adultery.
5) 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.
The Chasam Sofer answers that the gemara discusses a situation where the person wanted to sin but was held back from doing so by circumstance. He did absolutely no action. Here, the woman did an action that she thought was a sin. This requires atonement.
The Admor of Skulen asks this and he answers that we derive (gemara Nozir 5a) from the words "Mi'yayin v'sheichor yazir" (Bmidbar 6:3) that a "nozir" is prohibited from even consuming wine that would otherwise be a mitzvah to drink, i.e. kiddush or havdoloh. Similarly, there is a prohibition of defiling oneself to a corpse even in the line of helping in its burial, which is normally a mitzvoh, except where there is no one else to tend to this, called a "meis mitzvoh." Rashi therefore gives us specifically these two scenarios to stress that even where her vow was nullified and even though it would otherwise have been an act that is a mitzvoh, nevertheless, since she was unaware of her vow being negated, she requires atonement.
Moshe understood that it was inappropriate to actually take part, as he was protected in Midyon when he was a fugitive from Paroh. This is akin to the folk-saying, "Don't throw a stone into the well from which you have drunk." Others say that although the nation that brought the bnei Yisroel to sin was called Midyon, it was not the same people called Midyon in parshas Shmos, as the Midyonites of our parsha lived along side Moav. Rather, he allowed Pinchos to lead the army that would defeat Midyon since Pinchos began the fight against Midyon when he killed Kozbi bas Tzur. This is in keeping with the maxim of the gemara Yerushalmi P'sochim 10:5, "Hamas'chil b'mitzvoh omrim lo g'more/m'roke." (M.R. 22:4)
This question is raised by the Sifsei Chachomim. This can be answered with the words of the Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh on parshas Bolok (25:8). He asks that although it was proper for Pinchos to kill Zimri, as per the rule of "habo'eil Aramis kano'im pogim bo" (gemara Sanhedrin 82a) - one who sins with a gentile woman is liable to be killed by a zealot - but by what right did Pinchos kill Kozbi? He surely didn't know if she was a married woman, and when in doubt he surely would not have killed her. He answers that she was killed as per the verse "v'es hab'heimoh taharogu" (Vayikra 20:15), by the case of committing bestiality. (Actually, the Rambam in gilyon hilchos issu'rei bi'oh 12:6 says this, bringing a proof from Bmidbar 31:16, "hein heinoh hoyu livnei Yisroel ......"). Thus we have Pinchos fulfilling a separate mitzvoh, something that is not incidental to killing Zimri.
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)
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