Sharing Torah Insights

Matos-Maasei — Fighting on two Fronts

Posted on כ״ז בתמוז ה׳תש״ע (July 9, 2010) | in Masei, Matot | by

Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2“Take full vengeance for the sons of Israel on the Midianites; afterward you will be gathered to your people.” 3Moses spoke to the people, saying, “Arm men from among you for the war, that they may go against Midian to execute the LORD’S vengeance on Midian. 4“A thousand from each tribe of all the tribes of Israel you shall send to the war.” 5So there were furnished from the thousands of Israel, a thousand from each tribe, twelve thousand armed for war. 6Moses sent them, a thousand from each tribe, to the war, and Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest, to the war with them, and the holy vessels and the trumpets for the alarm in his hand. 7So they made war against Midian, just as the LORD had commanded Moses, and they killed every male.

Rashi comments that when it says “men” it means that they should be righteous people. Interestingly, Rashi says similarly by the war against Amalek that Moshe required the warriors to be righteous people as well.

The Nesivos Shalom explains that these two wars involved not just a physical component, but a spiritual one as well.

Amalek, as many commentator’s posit, stood for “doubt about God”, on a meta-physical level. Just before we were going to recieve the Torah, Amalek came and attacked us and challanged our faith in God. [However, I am not sure exactly how they did this- on a natural level.]

Similarly in the past few parshaos, we see that the Midianites and the Moabites, along with their leaders, Bilam and Balak have tried to ruin the Jewish People’s sense of holiness and moral integrity. These events occur just as the Jewish People are marching to towards Israel, the Promised Land.

Perhaps this is why we needed righteous men to fight these physical wars. They had to defeat the the enemy on a spiritual plane as well.

Rashi also explains (I beleieve) that the repetition of “a thousand from each tribe” shows that Moshe wanted for every thousand that fight the war- there should be a thousand to pray to God for military success.

Amazingly, the Zohar comments that the last letters of Bilam and Balak spell Amalek, a further connection.

(This dvar Torah is brought to you courtesy of Rabbi Nachum Sauer of Los Angeles.)

Good shabbos from Beverly Hills/Hancock Park, CA, Yaakov

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