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Parshas Matos

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Parshas Matos
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Hashem Please Save Me. I Promise I Will...

By the mitzvah of keeping your promise it says Moshe told the heads of each Shevet about this mitzvah. Why does the torah write this by this mitzvah? Bais Din has the obligation to enforce every mitzvah. The Netziv says that we usually make a promise under some sort of duress in the hopes that our promise will help us achieve our goal whether it is a promise to Hashem to save us or help us in some way or to another person to gain something in return from that person.

Unfortunately, he says, keeping promises is often not easy for us. Typically when the duress has passed and it is time for us to fulfill our end our enthusiasm dramatically wanes and we come up with all sorts of rationalizations why we need not keep our exactly as we promised it or even not at all. This is why Moshe told the leaders of the people that it is up to them to make sure that people keep their promise.

Using the same explanation Rav Zvi Hersh Voidaslav father of Rav Simcha Bunim MiPeshischa explains why the Torah says the seemingly superfluous words "K'Chol Hayotzeh MiPiv Yaaseh"; its deeper meaning is that you should keep your promise with exactly the same enthusiasm that you made it.

Kadma V'Azla To War With Midyan

"VaYishlach Osom Moshe Elef LaMateh LaTzava Osom V'Es Pinchas" "Moshe sent them, a thousand from each Shevet, them and Pinchas" Why is the Trop (cantillation) on the word Pinchas a "Kadma ViAzla"?

Rashi explains that Moshe sent Pinchas and not Elazar to the lead the war against Midyan, because he is credited with killing the Midyanite woman - Kozbi Bas Tzur, who blatantly committed adultery with the leader of Shevet Shimon - Zimri Ben Salu. Since he began the Mitzvah, he was chosen to conclude it - to take vengeance against the people of Midyan. (HaMaschil BiMitzvah Omrim Lo Gemor).

The word "Kadma " - means "ahead" and the word "azla" - means "going ". The "Kadma ViAzla" Trop on the word Pinchas indicates that "Kadma " - he went ahead and was first to take action. - Therefore "ViAzla" - he was chosen to be the one to go and lead the battle.

Tzadikim After The Money?

The pasuk tells us (31:3) that when Moshe chose the soldiers to fight against Midyan, he took "Anashim"- "Men". Rashi explains, when the Torah uses the expression of "Anashim" - it means to tell us that they were Tzadikim. When the Bnai Yisroel were victorious in the war, the pasuk says that they took all the possessions of the Midyanim and brought them before Moshe. Rashi comments, from here we see that they were Tzadikim because they brought everything to Moshe and did not pocket anything for themselves. The Netziv asks, why is it necessary for Rashi to comment a second time that they were Tzadikim after telling us earlier that were Tzadikim from the word "Anashim"?

The Netziv answers, although the Torah addresses them as "Anashim" earlier, that tells us that that they were in fact Tzadikim. But when it comes to monetary issues even one who is a Tzadik can be pulled in to "blinded by the buck" and will find reasons why other peoples money should belong to them. Therefore Rashi has to repeat a second time that they were Tzadikim even when it came to dealing with money. This became obvious when they brought all the booty of the war to Moshe, and didn't keep anything for themselves.

One War You Can Eat Pig; Another War You Need To Kasher The Utensils?

"Kol Asher Yavo BaEsh Taviru BaEsh"; "Everything that comes into fire, you shall pass through the fire and it shall be clean" The pasuk tells us that before using the vessels, which they took from Midyan, they must be Kashered. Prior to the war with Midyan, the Jews had a major war with Sichon and Og. Why were the instructions of Kashering utensils not given immediately after the war with Sichon and Og?

Ramban answers, the Gemorah (Chulin 17a) says in regard to the pasuk in Devarim (6:10-11) - "It shall be when Hashem will bring you to the land of your forefathers... great and good cities that you did not build, houses filled with every good thing that you did not fill", that this includes permission to use "Katlei DeChaziri" - "dried pieces of pork' - taken among the spoils or found in abandoned houses.

Consequently, in the battle with Sichon and Og, since the land of Amori is part of the inheritance of the Bnai Yisroel, everything they took from them, including non-kosher utensils or foods, were permissible to use as is. However, the war with Midyan was strictly a war of revenge for the act they did against Klal Yisroel. Their land was taken as a vengeance, and is not part of the land, which was an inheritance to the Bnai Yisroel. Therefore in order to use the utensils of Midyan it was necessary to put them through the process prescribed by Elazar the Kohen.

According to the Ramban, everything, including non-kosher food, captured while conquering the land, which is of Jewish inheritance, is permissible. However, according to the Rambam (Melachim 8:1), it is permissible for soldiers to eat non-kosher food taken among the spoils, only when they are hungry and do not have other food.

Daas Zekainim MiBaalai HaTosfos answers, unlike the war with Sichon, of which the Torah writes," He went out against the Bnai Yisroel in the wilderness" (21:23), the Jews went to Midyan to battle with the Bnei Midyan. Since the war with Sichon took place in the Midbar, and it is uncommon to have cooking utensils on the battlefield, none were captured, and it was not necessary to give instructions on how to make them permissible. However, the war with Midyan took place in the cities and the Bnai Yisroel took various kinds of spoils, including cooking utensils. That is why it was necessary for Elazar to provide instructions for making the non kosher utensils fit for use by the Bnai Yisroel.

War Taxes - Easy Come Easy Go

During the war against Midyan, the Bnai Yisroel took a lot of the possessions of the Midyanim. The pasuk tells us, that Hashem commanded that all the animals and the girls under the age of 3 should be divided. 50% should go to the soldiers and 50% to the rest of Klal Yisroel. Out of the 50% which the soldiers received, 1/500 should be given to Elazar HaKohen, and out of the 50% which Klal Yisroel received, 1/50 should be given to the Leviim.

Chizkuni explains, since the soldiers risked their lives and went out to war, they only had to give 1 out of 500. The rest of Klal Yisroel, who did not have to fight in the war and stayed in their homes, they had to give away a larger percentage - one out of 50. Chafetz Chaim says, we see from here that the obligation of giving Tzedakah is greater when one receives the money without any work. If one were to win the lottery, he would have a greater obligation to give from that money to Tzedakah , than if he worked for many years to acquire that sum. - just like we see that the Bnai Yisroel , who did not fight in the war, had to give away more of their booty than the soldiers who fought.

Buying Time? Rav Chaim Kanievsky Says No!

The story is told that the Steipler Gaon told Rav Shabsi Frankel not to hurry to finish publishing the Rambam because it is a Segula for Arichas Yamim, implying he would not die before he finishes. Similarly there is a story about a woman who lived in Chutz La'Aretz and built a shul for the Shaagas Aryeh. He gave her a bracha that she would be zocheh to build one Eretz Yisroel. Years later she wanted to go to Eretz Yisroel and Rav Chaim Volozhin told her not to rush since the longer she waited the longer she would live. In her nineties she finally went and built a shul in Eretz Yisroel and died shortly thereafter.

When asked about the veracity of the story about his father and Rav Shabsi Frankel, Rav Chaim Kanievsky said it cannot be true. In Parshas Matos, Chazal praise Moshe Rabbeinu that although Moshe knew that his last mission before dying was to go to war with Midyan he did not hesitate and started the war immediately. On the other hand Chazal tell us that although Yehoshua was supposed to live 120 years his life was shortened by ten years since he deliberately conquered the 31 kings slowly in order to try to lengthen his life.

When you have a mitzva to do you should perform it as soon as possible. By stalling for personal reasons you will ultimately lose out.

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