Our Doubleheader Parshat HaShevua, Matos-Masei is being sponsored by Yosef Moshe and Chana Rosenberg of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated in honor of Yosef Moshe’s Bar Mitzvah Parshiyot Matot/Masei and for the health and well-being of their children and family . To the Rosenberg family, many thanks for your sponsorship and your continued kindnesses.
You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate a Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring a Parshat HaShevua.
Please forward to your relatives and friends and encourage them to sponsor a Parshat HaShevua. And please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.
Our twin-bill Parshiyot HaShavua Matos-Masei is being written against the backdrop of nearly One-Hundred and Forty days of a Hoax, Fraudulent, Stolen presidency and senate (via the Georgia senate runoff vote) in the United States, a possible near sequel here in Israel, as well as the agenda of the potential “unity” government in Israel which, among a myriad of other disasters, is gearing up to restart negotiations with Mahmoud Abbas Yemachshmo who continues to pay off families of terrorists who kill Jews. Israel, of course keeps transferring money to the PA.
Sorry to open with what sounds to some like politics. But, in reality, it’s about the survival of Am Yisrael, our sovereignty in Our Land, Eretz Yisrael and how Hashem is the Ultimate Ruler of the World who can change and totally reverse things “on the dime” — through the millenniums of our history, as if in a literal blink of an eye.
Our twin-bill Parshiyot Matos/Masei begins by relating Moshe’s instructions to the nasi’im (heads) of each Shevet (tribe) regarding the laws of nedarim and under what circumstances a father or husband can repeal a woman’s vows.
Parshat Matos also relates the events of the legion of Am Yisrael going to fight Hashem’s wars against the kings of Midian and the evil Bila’am, the allocation and distribution of the spoils of victorious battle, preparations for B’nei Yisrael to enter Eretz Yisrael, with the battles that will ensue upon entry, and delineation of each Shevet’s (Tribe’s) portion in the Land as well as designation the cities of refuge. There is also a review of the liberation from Mitzriyim, the crossing of the Yam Suf (the Reed Sea) and B’nei Yisrael’s travels in Bamidbar.
Our Parshiyot also indicate B’nei Yisrael’s belated unequivocal acceptance of Moshe as their Divinely Anointed Leader as well as expressing the ideal of a Jew’s love of, dedication to and connection with Eretz Yisrael.
Torah relates both Moshe’s instructions and describes the legion going off to war, winning and the extent of the spoils:
“Moshe spoke to the people, saying, ‘Arm men from among yourselves for the army that they may be against Midian to inflict Hashem’s vengeance against Midian.” (Rendered to English in “The Sapirstein Edition, Torah with Rashi Commentary,” Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 31, posuk 3)
We learn that upon the legion’s return from battle, Moshe expressed his displeasure with his commanders regarding certain captives:
“Moshe was angry with the commanders of the legion… Moshe said to them, ‘Did you let every female live? See now, they were the ones who caused the B’nei Yisrael, by the word of Bila’am, to commit a trespass against Hashem regarding the matter of Peor, and the plague occurred in the assembly of Hashem. So now, kill every male among the young children, and every woman who knows a man by lying with a male, kill. And all the young children among the women who have not known lying with a male, you may keep alive for yourselves.'” (Rendered to English in “The Sapirstein Edition, Torah with Rashi Commentary,” Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 31, posukim 14-19)
In our Parsha, Sh’vatim Gad and Reuven approached Moshe Rabbeinu regarding their desire to graze their flocks and settle their families on the East side of the Yarden. To this, Moshe Rabbeinu replied, “Shall your brothers go out to battle while you settle here?” ( Rendered to English in “The Sapirstein Edition, Torah with Rashi Commentary, “Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 32, posuk 6)
Moshe was quite angry at the two Sh’vatim. He was concerned lest Gad and Reuven would avoid taking part in the wars for Eretz Yisrael, that other Sh’vatim might follow suit and B’nai Yisrael might be condemned to wandering in the desert another 40 years. (per Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 32, posukim 6-15)
Although Parshiyot Matos-Masei are twinned in most years, this year, the section of Parshat Masei regarding preparing and settling Eretz Yisrael speaks most loudly to this author in light of current events.
Parsha Masei teaches us that “Hashem spoke to Moshe… by the Jordan, at Yericho” telling him to speak to the B’nai Yisrael and tell them (Artscroll Stone Chumash, Sefer Bamidbar, Peek 33, p’sukim 51-56, pages 922-923);
“When you cross the Jordan to the land of Canaan, you shall drive out all of the inhabitants of the Land before you; and you shall destroy all their prostration stones; all of their molten images…. You shall possess the Land as an inheritance by lot to your families…. But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the Land before you, those of them whom you leave shall be pins in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they will harass you upon the Land in which you dwell. And it shall be that what I had meant to do to them, I shall do to you. ” (Rendered to English in the Artscroll Stone Chumash, Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 33, p’sukim 51-56, pages 922-923)
Rabbi Artscroll (Artscroll Stone Chumash, page 923) then cites the Rashbam and follows with it’s own commentary;
… If they fail to do so, they will suffer the fate Hashem had intended to impose upon the Canaanites, and be driven out.
Only in the perspective of Hashem’s wisdom can this passage be understood. No human ruler has the right to decree that an entire population is to be… exiled, but Hashem revealed that the Canaanite presence was incompatible with both the Land’s holiness and Israel’s mission on earth. History is the most conclusive proof of this, for the fact was that the Jews could not bring themselves to eliminate all of the Canaanites, with the result that the Jews were drawn to idolatry, debauchery, and were in turn periodically oppressed and finally exiled.
R’ Shimson Rafael Hirsch z”l provides additional enlightenment on the abovementioned posukim the new Hirsch Chumash (published by Feldheim in 2005 and translated to English by Rabbi Daniel Haberman) which hold important lessons not heeded by contemporary Israeli governance, institutions and political entities (Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 33, p’sukim 51-56, pages 666-667):
On posuk 53: You must first make the Land fit to be your yerusha [inheritance] by removing all traces of polytheism, and only then will you be able to settle in it.You are not inheriting the Land by your own power and might; rather, Hashem’s will and Hashem’s power are giving you the Land. So, too, the division of the Land shall not be done according to arbitrary norms, but according to Hashem’s instruction and decision. Hence, you will not be able to avoid fulfilling the first basic condition on which Hashem makes the [this] gift of the Land dependent.
On posuk 55: …Apparently, …the meaning here: If you allow the pagan inhabitants to remain in the Land, they will become a hedge [a guard, a protection] around their pagan practices; the nature of these practices will be concealed from your perception and insight, and you will not find fault with them. Tolerance toward the pagan inhabitants will beget tolerance toward paganism. If you tolerate paganism and find justification for it within Hashem’s Land, you will cease to belong to Hashem alone, and… you will be deprived of your right to exist in the Land, and you will not be worthy of protection…. When Hashem removes His protection of you…, those toward whom you have been so tolerant will become your enemies and will oppress you in your own land.
On posuk 56: In the end, you will not be worthy of Hashem’s Land, and Hashem will expel you… as He had intended to expel the nations through you.
These posukim literally scream out from our Torah to this very generation!
Have the generations of the seventy-three years since modern-day Israeli statehood not heard this scream, have not picked up on the lesson of our Parshat Masei? Think about it! We backed off during the Six-Day War when we had the opportunity to liberate Har HaBayit, relinquishing it to Jordanian authority. When we had the opportunity to eradicate the PLO, we let Arafat and his band of terrorists escape. We failed to put down and destroy the so-called “intifadas” of the 1980s and early 1990s. We let the politicians make Oslo, then gave away 80% of Hevron and then expel Jews from Gush Katif in Gaza — despite a people’s referendum vote against such expulsion. So we had suicide terror blowing up buses, Sbarros, bulldozer terror attacks, attacks on Shuls and Talmidei Chachamim and much more. We depend on Arab labor to build our buildings so that the Kablanim rake in excessive profits, while denying Jews training in construction fields, jobs and competitive wages, not to mention families being unable to find affordable housing in Israel’s major cities.
“Pins in your eyes and thorns in your sides” — Traveling in Yehuda and the Shomron is with trepidation. Riots and terror in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Lod, etc. Close to 4,500 rockets launched from Gaza, not only at towns and cities border Gaza, but at Central Israel as well.
And now, days after the most recent iteration of the War in Gaza, we set a catastrophic precedent to accept into a governing “coalition” an Arab party with ties to the “Moslem Brotherhood” and run to start talks with terrorists about a “two-state solution
Shabbos is meant for simcha, for wine, challah, dagim and bassar (fish, meat), for learning, for z’miros, for family, friends, Hachnasat Orchim, for rest from the affairs of the week. Shabbos is meant to commune spiritually with HaKodosh Borchu. But we can’t deny that we are in perilous times — Am Yisrael led by politicians who think they are almighty, with nary a word about The Holy One Above, Blessed be He. And this author had to tell it as he sees it and prays that by the time Shabbos Parshat Matos-Masei arrives that this abhorrent “coalition” has failed to materialize.
May we, the B’nei Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them and that the thrice expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes, at government expense; both due to alt-leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized Yassamnik gunpoint. Baruch Hashem that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard is now free of his parole and restrictions and that he and his ill wife Esther Yocheved bat Rayzl Bracha are finally home in Eretz Yisrael. May the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem — as with the return in April, 2019, via Russia, of the remains of Zachariah Baumel, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of seven years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and prevent Chas V’Challila the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. And may we soon and finally see the total end to the Communist Chinese corona virus pandemic and all like viruses. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nei Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!
Good Shabbos and Chodesh Tov!
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.