Thursday, August 4, 2016

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.

R' Mansour began the vort by referring to the dialogue between the tribes of Gad & Reuven and Moshe in Bamidbar 32:1-33 as to their request to live on the other side of the Jordan River. The Torah makes numerous reference to the livestock that these tribes had (Mikneh Rav) and that the area they wanted to settle in had lush pastures.

R' Mansour noted that in the Torah there is a gap between Bamidbar 32:4-5 which creates a parsha setumah - a closed topic. But why should there be a setumah in the middle of the conversation between Moshe and the tribes, since the gap is in the middle of the tribes' request to Moshe?

R' Mansour observed that Moshe was unhappy with the request and he expressed it in Bamidbar 32:7 when he asked why they were trying to dissuade people from entering Israel and fighting for their land? To their credit, they approached Moshe in 32:16 and offered to fight with the other tribes and not to return until all the land was divided.

Moshe then responds to them in Bamidbar 32:20 that if they do what they have pledged to do, they will be clean with Hashem. This continues in a protracted conversation which covers another dozen or so pesukim which discuss both sides of the conditions. [From this we learn the laws of conditions].

R' Mansour observed that Ma'asei Avos Siman L'Banim - what the fathers did is a sign to their children. So what occurred previously in the Torah which signaled to the tribes of Gad & Reuven to make this request?

R' Mansour answered by making reference to Ya'akov who after leaving Lavan and then fighting with Esav's angel and then meeting with Esav, the Torah writes that Ya'akov traveled to Sukkoth and built a house for himself and sukkos for his animals - this is why they call the place Sukkoth. (Bereishis 33:17).

The Ohr HaChaim Hakadosh notes that this is the only time that the Torah discusses that someone built a home for their animals. R' Mansour added that the location of the city was in the future land of the tribe of Gad. R' Mansour theorized that Ya'akov knew that the tribes would be there one day and would commit a sin by prioritizing the animals over the children, so Ya'akov corrected/instructed that first you build for the family and then for the animals.

R' Mansour next quoted R' Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld who explains that the language of the conversation between Moshe and tribes repeats many times with Moshe changing or tweaking their language. 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 needed 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 next quoted R' Bunim who explains that Bnei Gad and Reuven loved Moshe and knew that he was banned from entering Israel. The tribes did not want to leave Moshe behind and not show him respect. As such, the tribes asked to stay on the other side of the Jordan River to stay with Moshe. In fact, they attempted to "backdoor" [my term] Moshe into the land of Israel. The tribes reasoned with Hashem -  because we will settle on that side it will become part of Israel. So now Moshe will wind up being in Israel - so why not let him enter all of the land?

This limud can be seen in the first words of the perek - it begins with Mikne Rav. This can be learned as they had a lot of animals. Or it can be learned that they had a great kinyan in their rav. 

Having said that, the tribes could not say this directly to Moshe because he would not want them to stay on his behalf. As such, they needed to phrase it this way as to not signal to Moshe. 

Moshe does eventually figure this out, as can be seen in Devarim 33:20-21 where Moshe gives Gad a blessing and then states in the next pasuk - Vayare Reishis Lo, Ki Sham Chekas Michokeik Safoon. Rashi explains that the pasuk is teaching that the tribes of Gad chose this land which was the first conquests, because they knew that Moshe who was the Michokeik would be buried there. 

This attempt to hide their intentions from Moshe can be seen in how the parsha setuma is set forth. Quoting the Sefer Vayvinu B'Mikra that in the first pasuk they tell Moshe about their abundance of livestock and in 32;6 they tell Moshe that the land is a land for livestock and they have livestock. The parsha closes there and is satum - hidden, because they did not want to tell Moshe their real intention.

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