CHAMISHOH MI YODEI'A - FIVE QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ON PARSHAS MATOS 5775 - BS"D
1) Ch. 30, v. 2: "Zeh hadovor" - THIS is the matter - Rashi says that Moshe and other prophets prophesied with the expression "koh." ADDITIONALLY, Moshe prophesied with the expression "zeh hadovor." One would have thought that this most important point of information would be conveyed to us either at the beginning of Moshe's career as a prophet (according to those who posit that he had this level immediately), or at least at the receiving of the Torah. Why does the Torah wait until specifically this point to give us this information?
2) Ch. 31, v. 3: "V'yi'h'yu AL Midyon" - And they will be ON Midyon - How are we to explain AL?
3) Ch. 31, v. 8: "V'es malchei Midyon horgu al chal'lei'hem" - And the kings of Midyon they killed upon their slain - What is the intention of the words "upon their slain?"
4) Ch. 31, v. 19 "Kol ho'reig nefesh ..... tis'chatu" - Why was the law of people who were defiled by contact with dead people not mentioned earlier in the wars with Sichon and Og.
5) Ch. 32, v. 24: "V'ha'yotzei mipi'chem taasu" - Rashi explains that Moshe told them that they were required to fulfill their words to Hashem that they would not go back to reside in the Trans-Jordan until after they would join in conquering Eretz Yisroel and it would be apportioned to the tribes and family units. The words of Rashi seem to contradict the Mahari"k who says that the rule of "amiroso liGvoah kimsiroso l'hediot," - one who verbally commits himself to give something to the Sanctuary, or to Hashem, is considered as if he physically gave it over into the Sanctuary's repository, only applies to committing property but not one's own body. Here we see that their verbal commitment to Hashem that they would go to war, in essence giving themselves, was binding.
MVRHRH"G R' Yaakov Kamenecki answers that since the Torah gives us the laws of oaths here, we see the power of a human creating "mitzvos" so to say, that must be fulfilled with the stringency of Torah law. The improper concept of thinking that possibly Moshe used his own imagination and wisdom to give us what he perceived as proper behaviour might creep into our minds. It is therefore essential at this point to inform us that Moshe received and transmitted Hashem's message in a perfect unadulterated manner, on the level of ZEH HADOVOR.
Targum Yonoson ben Uziel says that a self-understood phrase is to be inserted here. "And they should 'organize an attack' upon Midyon."
Rabbi Saadioh Gaon similarly inserts "And they should suddenly fall (attack) UPON Midyon."
Rabbeinu Myuchos says that AL means they should be prepared.
The Sha"ch says that it means that they all on their own, without heavy weaponry, should be upon Midyon. Just their appearance in front of Midyon will throw fear into their hearts. This is strongly indicated by Targum Onkelos, who translates, "Va'yitz'bu al Midyon" of verse 7, as "V'is'chailu," they should form regiments. This war-like grouping will be sufficient to overpower Midyon.
The Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh, based on the words of the M.R. Breishis 12, that says that sanctity is the basis of ascent and sin is the basis of descent, i.e. the sin drags one downward. Moshe's message was that although the Midyonites caused some of the bnei Yisroel to sin and drag them down, those who are entering the arena of war should make sure that they mentally cleanse themselves of any trace of the type of sin that Midyon seduced them to follow, and that way they will be in an aura of ASCENT against Midyon.
Upon seeing that they were being defeated, the kings of Midyon attempted to hide among their own soldiers who were already slain, feigning that they too were dead. However, the bnei Yisroel became aware of this and killed them among those who were already slain. (Tiferes Y'honoson)
The Ramban asks this. The Tiferes Shlomo (the Admo"r of Radomsk) answers that in the previous wars, where Moshe took an active part, there was no need to come in direct contact with the enemy, as we know the concept of great tzadikim staring at a person and drawing the life source out of him. However, in this war with Midyon, Moshe was not actively involved, as he sent out Pinchos to head the effort. This was either because Pinchos deserved to complete a mitzvoh he began (he slew Kozbi the Midyonite princess), or because Moshe was hosted in Midyon, when he sought refuge from Paroh. This war required hand-to-hand combat, and therefore numerous people became defiled.
It would seem that in the war with Og there was one exception. Moshe killed Og with a sword, as is related in the gemara Brochos 54b.
The Maharsha"m asked his teacher Rabbi Meir Arik this question. Rabbi Meir Arik answered that this Rashi presents no difficulty for the Mahari"k. The reason the Mahari"k differentiated between one's property and his own body is that one's body is so dear to himself that a verbal statement is not a true commitment. Here we are discussing the tribes of Reuvein and Gad who were admonished by Moshe for their improper values, placing their possessions ahead of their families, as indicated by the order of their concern, mentioning living quarters for their cattle ahead of their families (verse 15). For people with these distorted values, a verbal commitment to go to war, even though it is a commitment about their own bodies, is also binding.
A GUTTEN SHABBOS KODESH. FEEL FREE TO DISTRIBUTE BY COPY OR ELECTRONICALLY.
FEEDBACK IS APPRECIATED. TO SUBSCRIBE, KINDLY SEND REQUEST TO: SHOLOM613@ROGERS.COM
See also Sedrah Selections, Oroh
V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha and Chasidic Insights