Thursday, July 20, 2017

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshios Matos-Maasei

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 Bamidbar 32:1 the Torah tells us that the tribes of Gad and Reuven had "mikneh rav" which is literally translated as much livestock. They then recite the cities in the area of the East Bank of the Jordan and tell Moshe that it is fertile for raising livestock and they have much livestock.

In the middle of the discussion there is a gap which is reflected in the Chumash with a "pay". This appears as a space in the Torah between pasuk 4 and 5 and it makes the first part of the conversation closed or setumah. R' Mansour asked, why would you have a closure in the middle of a conversation?

Moshe then responds to the Bnei Gad and Reuven in pasuk 6 stating - will your brothers fight a war and you will stay here? Why are you doing this, you will break the morale of the Jewish people. This is like what occurred with the meraglim and Hashem was furious with them!

After hearing the rebuke which ran from 32:7-15, the tribes again drew close to Moshe and told him in 32:16, that "we want to build pens for our sheep and cities for our children." Moshe then agrees that they can do so and uses a tinai kaful - a set of two sided conditions which we use to this day in contractual laws.

As part of his response, Moshe underscores that their priorities are out of order, telling them in 32:24 that they should build cities for their children and then pens for their sheep. The meforshim learn from this that parents need to understand that the children come first and that making money is a means to support a family, not a reason to distance oneself from one's family.

R' Mansour added that this incident is an example of ma'asei avos siman l'banim - the actions/stories of the fathers are a lesson for their children. Where do we see this in the history of the Jews? R' Mansour explained that when Ya'akov left Lavan and met Esav, Ya'akov went to Sukkoth and built for himself a house and sukkoth for his livestock, therefore the city was called Sukkoth. (Bereishis 33:17).

This city is also found in Sefer Yehoshua and is found in the land of Gad. R' Mansour stated that this was Yaakov's way of atoning for the act which Gad would do in the future. Why would he name a city after the livestock and not the city he built? This was done because the primary reason that Gad would want to stay on the other side of the Jordan was the sheep, so Yaakov established the city for his family as well as pens for the sheep.

R' Mansour also linked this story to the end of the Chumash, by quoting R' Bunim who stated that Bnei Gad and Reuven loved Moshe and did not want to leave him. They knew that Moshe was banned from entering and they were saying to themselves, how can we leave Moshe behind? 

They decided to try to find a way to lobby Hashem to let Moshe in to Israel. How? By deciding that they were going to stay and settle the other side of the Jordan they would turn it into another part of Israel. They could then turn to Hashem and say --since Moshe is now in Israel, You need to let him lead us the rest of the way.

How do we see the tribe of Gad's love for Moshe? In Devarim 33:20-21, Gad is given a beracha for "broadening." What did Gad do? He chose the first portion and that is where the michokek (the lawgiver---aka Moshe) is hidden. Rashi explains that they wanted to live in this land because they knew that Moshe would be buried there.

We also see their love of Moshe in this week's parsha. Mikneh is usually translated as livestock, but it can also mean an acquisition. R' Bunim explains that they had a kinyan in their Rav and they did not want to leave him. But it would have been disrespectful to tell Moshe that they knew that because of his sin he would be forced to stay there. So they instead made up the story of the livestock.

R' Mansour closed the vort by quoting the sefer VaYavinu B'Mikra who observes that the first part of the discussion before the break is a discussion of the livestock. Then there is a break and only afterwards do they make their pitch to stay in the land. Because they wanted to stay with Moshe but needed to keep their motivation hidden.

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