Thursday, July 4, 2013

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshios Matos-Masei

Since there are no Rabbi Frand shiurim on the Parsha until Elul, I would like to substitute a vort from other Rabbanim each week, rather than leaving the blog without a vort for shabbos. This week, I am attempting to repeat a vort heard from R' Eli Mansour as recorded on Same rules as usual apply - I have attempted to reproduce the vorts to the best of my ability. Any perceived inconsistency is the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to the maggid shiur.

In Parshas Matos, the people of Reuven and Gad tell Moshe that they wish to live on the other side of the Jordan River. In Bamidbar 32:16-17, the people approach Moshe and tell him that they want to build enclosures for their sheep and cities for their children, but they will first fight in the battle to conquer the land of Israel. In Bamidbar 32:20, Moshe says that that if they keep their end of the deal, they can do this. However, in Bamidbar 32:23, Moshe again says that this is acceptable, but they need to keep their promise. Two pesukim later in Bamidbar 32:25, they come back to Moshe again and say that they will do what Moshe has required of them. But yet again Bamidbar 32:29-30, Moshe again says that they will only be entitled to the land they requested if they keep their end of the bargain.

The obvious question is why does Moshe need to repeat his condition and require their verbal approval over and over again?

R' Mansour answered the question by quoting R' Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld who explains that the language of the conversation is the key to why it repeats over and over again. When the Bnei Gad and Reuven came to Moshe in Bamidbar 32:17, they said "we will come and we will fight." This language was not acceptable to Moshe and he need to instruct them that it all comes from Hashem. Moshe then responds to them in Bamidbar 32:20, 21 and 22 that all of these things are with the help of Hashem. Moshe peppers the sentences with five references to Hashem as assisting in the battle, although he never actually says "you must realize that it is all from Hashem."

The Bnei Gad and Reuven respond to Moshe in Bamdibar 32:25-26, we will do what you command and we will go to battle before Hashem, as you have commanded. This is the basis of our ability to succeed in battle, we recognize that it all comes from Hashem.

R' Mansour also gave a different explanation of the episode. The first time that they approach Moshe, they say that they want to build pens for their animals and cities for their children. Moshe rebukes them by putting the priorities in order - build first for your children and then take care of your animals.

R' Mansour gave a third explanation of the story in the name of R' Aharon Kotler. He explains that Moshe's problem was that by living on the other side of the Jordan, they exempted themselves from the laws of the land of Israel. They put their animals first because they will have more food for the animals because they won't have to give terumah and ma'aser from their grain.

R' Mansour then summed up all three views. The common denominator is that the Bnei Gad and Reuven's problem was that their priorities were off. Whether it was a question of being a soldier, building cities or keeping the laws of the Land of Israel, they had their priorities out of order.

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