Thursday, July 21, 2011

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Matos

Normally, the Thursday night parsha post on this blog slot contains a thought said over by R' Frand in his satellite shiur. Since the shiur is now on hiatus through Elul, I will be substituting with divrei torah found in other sources. As always, if the p'shat appears to be incorrect, it is a result of my efforts to convey the thought that I found in the sefer.

In Matos 31:2, Moshe is told by Hashem to take revenge against the people of Midyan. Rashi brings the Sifri who explains the reason the Jews were told to take revenge against the people of Midyan and not the people of Moab. The Sifri explains that the people of Moab had a reason to go to war against the Jews, since they were concerned that the Jews were going to make life difficult for them. Meanwhile, the people of Midyan got involved in a feud that had nothing to do with them, so Hashem instructed the Jews to go to war against them.

The Yalkut Lekach Tov cites the Orchos Chayim (by way of the sefer Zichron Mayir) to explain the lowliness of of someone who gets involved in someone else's argument. When people fight, it is usually in relation to a specific item or problem. If down the road they resolve the issue, the relationship can be similarly mended. On the other hand, if there was never a basis for involvement in the feud there is no easy way to resolve the dispute, as we cannot say that now that the problem is solved, go back to the way things were.

This problem of fighting or hating for no reason (sinas chinam) is viewed as a destructive force. The gemara in Shabbos 32a writes that because one hates for no reason, a person will then have feuds within their own home, one's wife will have miscarriages and children will die.

The Yalkut Lekach Tov brings another proof to how seriously sinas chinam is viewed. In the Yom Kippur davening, after Modim we say a prayer that begins "Avinu Malkeinu Z'chor Rachamecha" (our father, our king, remember your mercy). As part of this prayer, we ask Hashem to remove an exhaustive list of problems from our midst, including pestilence, war, destruction... The last item in the list is sinas chinam. It is known from the gemara in Bava Basra 8b that lists generally go from light to heavy - thus showing how seriously sinas chinam is viewed.

In order to remedy the problem of sinas chinam, the sages instruct us to engage in ahavas chinam, to love one's neighbor - not because you admire any one of his qualities, just because he is a fellow Jew. Occasionally, you will meet people who radiate ahavas chinam - the person that comes to mind as the modern day icon of ahavas chinam is R' Meir Schuster of the Heritage House, who should have refuah sheleimah. (To read more about R' Schuster, click here )

The interplay of sinas chinam and ahavas chinam can be seen in the Shoshanas Ya'acov prayer read after the megilla on Purim. The Yalkut Lecach Tov discusses how the prayer contrasts opposites - but in so doing seems to be terse. Within the prayer we say cursed is Haman who sought to destroy us, blessed is Mordechai the Jew. Why does the prayer augment Haman while merely praising Mordechai for being jewish? The answer is that even to hate a Haman (like the Midyanites in the parsha) there needs to be a reason - because he sought to destroy us. On the other hand there is no specific reason needed to justify blessing Mordechai - we should do so simply because he is a Jew, notwithstanding his admirable feats.

In this time of sorrow (as we have commenced the three weeks of mourning) we can learn from the way that Midyanites are treated and try to engage in ahavas chinam.

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1 comment:

Yaakov said...

Nice divar torah and thanks for recommending the Rav Shuster website I am using the story of the week at my shabbos table