Parshas Matos/Maasei:
 By: Yaacov Silverstein
e@mail: hm16@popeye.cc.biu.ac.il
HomePage: http://faculty.biu.ac.il/~hm16/

This Dvar Torah was prepared in the merit and memory of my grandfather: Rav Yitzchak Zev Ben Yisroel Mordechai HaKohen Solomon

Parshas Matos/Maasei:

Pasuk (32:1)

"The children of Reuven and the children of Gad had abundant livestock..."

The tribes of Gad and Reuven requested to be permitted to settle on the east bank of the Jordan, in the lands of Sichon and Og, instead of crossing over the Jordan with the rest of the Bnei Yisroel, and take a share in Eretz Yisroel proper. At the end, Moshe told them that they were permitted, and half of the tribe of Menashe was added to them.

Reuven, Gad, 1/2 Menashe:


There are various opinions of why Moshe included half/part of the tribe of Menashe to join the tribes of Reuven and Gad. One explanation, given by the "Emek Davar", is that Moshe insisted that they join, for no Jewish community can maintain its spirituality and existence as Jews, unless they have within them great Torah leaders. Since the tribe of Menashe had within them such great Torah leaders, Moshe did not consent to the request, unless part of the tribe of Menashe would volunteer to live on the east bank of the Jordan River. By doing this Moshe set a precedence for future generations, and the rest of Jewish history. The only way a Jew can remain as a Jew, is if he has Torah leaders to look up to, and the right surroundings to be able to live like a Jew. The tribe of Menashe was also chosen, for we saw their great love for the Land, when the daughters of Tzelafchad requested a share in the land. This passionate love of Eretz Yisroel helped serve as a forerunner for the broadening of the borders of Eretz Yisroel in the future.

Troubles of the rich:


Their request came because of the abundance of flock which they had, and these lands were suitable for grazing their flock. There are commentaries which put them to fault, for putting such a heavy emphasis on their material possessions.

Rav Peretz of Pshischa states that we know from a Mishna, that "The more one has possessions, the more he worries." He brings a homiletic explanation to this Pasuk, and shows the positive aspect of their claims. It wasn't that they had "An abundance of livestock..." which brought them to make such a request, rather there was a positive aspect to their request.

Moshe Rabbeinu was about to die, and he will buried on the other side of the Jordan River, not in Eretz Yisroel proper.

The word "Miknei" (livestock) can also mean "Kinyan" (an acquisition).

And the word "Rav"(many) can also mean "Rav" (a master).

Thus the Bnei Reuven and Gad had an acquisition with their beloved master, Moshe Rabbeinu. They were in essence saying that if Moshe would lead them over to the other side of the Jordan, they would follow. Yet since they had a great master who was going to be buried on the other side of the Jordan, they wanted to live in that land, and not be separated from their great leader. We can see from here their great love for their leader. (Rabbi David Goldwasser and Sefer Meshech Chachma)

Impulsive as water...:


Rav Pliskin writes in the name of the Sifsei Cohen, that if we take a close look at the Pasuk, we would see "And the members of the tribe of Gad and the tribe of Reuven came...", the tribe of Gad, who was the younger of the tribes, approached Moshe before Reuven, who was the eldest of the 12 tribes. The tribe of Reuven was embarrassed to approach Moshe first, for Reuven was rebuked by his father Yakov Avinu, that he was "impulsive like water". By his refraining to approach Moshe first, they in essence rectified their previous fault.

When one has the trait of acting out of impulse, without taking much thought before he acts, this can cause great harm to many people, including himself. A person with such a trait can take a lesson from this case, that to help cure a bad trait, one is to try and do the opposite, to be more patient and think things over.

Still...Chazal censured their request:


However, Chazal did censure them since they first requested to build a place for their sheep, and only then for the children. It seemed that their money was more important than their children. We also see from Moshe's answer to them, "Build for yourselves cities for your small children, and only then build pens for your flock...". Moshe corrected them for their mistake.

Rav Gifter writes that this generation was a very righteous generation, why then did they value their livestock more then their own children?

Chazal explain (Gemara Chulin 91a) that to a Tzaddik, his money is worth more to him, than his own body. For a Tzaddik's main goal is to serve Hashem. Because a Tzaddik sees his money, his wealth, as another limb from his body, which he can use towards serving Hashem. The Tzaddik puts more significance to his "monetary limb", than to his bodily limbs. Because unlike his bodily limbs, his monetary limbs had to be earned through toil and hard work. His bodily limbs were given to him from Hashem without any of his own effort.

Thus we can see yet another side to their claim, they first mentioned their flock, for this was the outcome of their hard work, thus they put a great value to it. However, Moshe was on such a great level, that he saw from their words, that there was more behind the mentioning of their flocks first. As we said last week, a person can't know if his personal feelings are affecting his choice. Moshe saw that there was a minute amount of appreciation for monetary items, and thus felt that there request needed to be corrected.

We are on a much lower level than the generation which entered Eretz Yisroel, yet if we feel that we have a great love for our money, lets at least love it for the right reason, and thus use it for doing Mitzvos.

We can give charity to the poor, help build Shuls, Yeshivos, and many more things... Let us love our money for the positive things we can do with it.



Conduct during the 3 weeks (According to Minhag Ashkenaz - Sefardim may hold differently:


********************** NOTE:

The Minhag is to observe some aspects of mourning during the period of three weeks (from the 17th of Tamuz till after the 9th of Av). I will try to discuss some of these aspects, for a more complete explanation, please read "Halachos of the Three Weeks" (Rav Shimon D. Eider)

Also there are various Minhagim(customs) and there are different parts of the three week period (3 weeks, week of 9th of Av, 9th of Av, 1 of Av till 9th of Av...) I can't discuss all the aspects, so this is just here to increase your knowledge, and let you know on what things you should ask your LROR.


1) Haircuts, shaving, trimming a beard/moustache...:

One is to refrain from cutting ones hair during this period.

Trimming ones moustache is permitted, only if it interferes when one is trying to eat. However, there is an opinion which holds that one should not trim his moustache, for any reason, during the week which the 9th of Av falls out on. One is allowed to comb his hair, without worrying that during the combing of his hair, a piece of hair may be pulled out without intention.

A person who usually shaves daily, and is also required to shave during the three weeks, should consult with a LROR (Local Reliable Orthodox Rabbi).

There are also different circumstances where a person may be allowed to shave/haircut, for each specific case please ask your LROR.

2) Cutting ones nails:

One is permitted to cut his nails up until the week which the 9th of Av falls on. In certain cases, there are those who are permitted to cut their nails even during the week which the 9th of Av falls on.

3) Listening to music:

Dancing and playing musical instruments is forbidden during the 3 weeks.

For a person who earns a living by playing musical instruments, or for someone who is practicing....please consult your LROR.

4) Engagements/weddings:

Engagements are permitted during the three weeks, however during the 9 days a Seudah (meal) should not be served. Rather, one should serve lite refreshments. (Of course one is forbidden to serve refreshments on the 9th of Av).

Weddings on the other hand, should not be performed during the three week period.

5) Making a Shechiyanu on a new fruit/clothing:

The accepted Minhag is not to make a Shechiyanu (blessing when eating a new fruit / wearing a new garment). There are many Poskim who hold that one is permitted to say Shechiyanu on Shabbos.

Again, there are different possible circumstances, where at times one may be permitted to say this Beracha.