For the week ending 23 July 2022 / 24 Tammuz 5782

Parshat Matot

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair -
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Moshe teaches the rules and restrictions governing oaths and vows, especially the role of a husband or father in either upholding or annulling a vow. The Bnei Yisrael wage war against Midian. They kill the five Midianite kings, all the males and Bilaam. Moshe is upset that women were taken captive. They were catalysts for the immoral behavior of the Jewish People. He rebukes the officers. The spoils of war are counted and apportioned. The commanding officers report to Moshe that there was not even one casualty among the Bnei Yisrael. They bring an offering that is taken by Moshe and Elazar and placed in the Ohel Mo'ed (Tent of Meeting). The Tribes of Gad and Reuven, who own large quantities of livestock, petition Moshe to allow them to remain on the eastern side of the Jordan River and not enter the western Land of Israel. They explain that the land east of the Jordan is quite suitable grazing land for their livestock. Moshe's initial response is that this request will discourage the rest of the Bnei Yisrael, and that it is akin to the sin of the spies. They assure Moshe that they will first help conquer the Land of Israel, and only then will they go back to their homes on the eastern side of the Jordan River. Moshe grants their request on condition that they uphold their part of the deal.


Things Go Better With Coke

“So Moshe gave to them - to the children of Gad and the children of Reuven, and half the tribe of Menashe…” (32:33)

Rabbi Benzion Yadler (21 November 1871 - 15 August 1962) was one of the great Torah teachers of his generation. Once he was visiting a community where he was trying to raise the level of Torah learning, and he wanted to impress on the congregation the great pleasure of learning Torah. Said Rabbi Benzion, “You know the g’shmake (delicious) feeling you have after eating a bowl of cholent on Shabbat and you wash it down with a glass of cold coke? Well, I have the same feeling when I go to shul a little earlier on Shabbat and open my Gemara and learn Torah.”

A few months later, a man came over to the rabbi and said, “Rabbi Yadler, I just want to tell you that I was at that derasha that you gave about the cholent and the coke, and I want you to know I got such inspiration from it.”

“Really!” said Rabbi Benzion. “Yes,” said the man, “and now on Shabbat I never eat my cholent without following it with a nice glass of chilled coke.”

Life is full of messages — you just have to make sure you get the right message.

“So Moshe gave to them — to the children of Gad and the children of Reuven, and half the tribe of Menashe…”

Moshe acceded to the tribe of Gad and Reuven’s request to settle the east bank of the Yarden only after part of the tribe of Menashe volunteered to settle the east bank and make themselves available for the spiritual welfare of Gad and Reuven. Moshe insisted that the families of Menashe would settle in the east because for a Jewish community to survive spiritually, it requires outstanding Torah scholars to lead it. The tribe of Menashe contained such people, and it was only on that condition that Moshe felt that the tribes of Gad and Reuven would “get the right message.”

  • Source: Ha’amek Davar to Devarim 3:16

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