The Jewish Eye
Parshas Maasei (Masay)
The Number 36; Learning Torah Before Hitting The Road
Rabbeinu Efraim says that the Torah uses the word "Eileh Maasei Bnei Yisroel" to show us that all the travels of Bnei Yisroel began with Divrei Torah. We find the word Eileh associated with Torah in a number of places including "Eileh HaMishpatim", "Eileh Divrei HaBris", and "Eileh HaMitzvos".
The gematria of Eileh is 36. There are 36 masechtos in Talmud Bavli, 36 "Brisim" covenants in the torah, and 36 tzaddikim in each generation in whose zchus the world exists.
"L'Olam Ya'asok Adam BaTorah V'Achar Kach Yeitzei La'Derech"; A person should make sure to learn torah before embarking on any journey.
Haftorah Matos-Maasei: Worshipping Extinct Powers
The second haftorah of the three weeks is a continuation of Yirmiya's warning to the Bnei Yisroel about the upcoming Churban. Hashem chastises Bnei Yisroel for not only leaving Hashem the power of all powers but also for worshipping intermediary powers that no longer function.
Avodah Zara was worshipped to gain divine help through an intermediary and not directly from Hashem. Each nation has its own representative in Shamayim that receives blessing and sustenance from Hashem for that particular nation. Bnei Yisroel which has not intermediary appealed to these powers instead of Hashem.
Furthermore each nation's power on earth is a reflection of the power of its emissary in Shamayim. Therefore when Hashem wants to destroy a nation he first destroys its Malach in Shamayim. Just a few years earlier Sancherev conquered every nation on earth meaning that all their malachim in shamayim were destroyed and no longer capable of providing any good for their earthly nation. Subsequently Hashem Himself destroyed Sancherev. Therefore there were no longer any intermediaries in Shamayim for Bnei Yisroel to worship. Yet they continued to do so. Hashem says to Bnei Yisroel "Oisi Uzvu Mekor Mayim Chaim"; not only have you deserted me the ultimate power but "Lachatzov Lahem Boirois Nishbarim"; you have chosen intermediaries that no longer function.
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