Sharing Torah Insights

Ki Seitze- Money is no Object

Posted on י׳ באלול ה׳תש״ע (August 20, 2010) | in Ki Tetzei | by

No Ammonite or Moabite shall enter the assembly of the LORD; none of their descendants, even to the tenth generation, shall ever enter the assembly of the LORD, 4because they did not meet you with food and water on the way when you came out of Egypt, and because they hired against you Balaam the son of Beor from Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse you.

These verses tell us to avoid marriage with all male Moabites or Ammonites. Why? The verses give two clear reasons:

a) When the Jewish People left Egypt, these nations were not hospitable to us at all. b) Additionally, (years late,) they hired someone to try to curse (and destroy) the entire Jewish Nation.

Rabbi Dr. Jacob J. Schacter wonders what the connection is between the two reasons. The second reason is understandable; the Moabites tried to destroy the Jewish People! However, the first reason given is perhaps excusable. After all, can we fault a nation for not being able to accommodate another nation? There were hundreds of thousands of Jews coming through the Moabite land! Maybe the Moabites simply did not have the finances to take care of an entire nation!

[Perhaps you could answer by saying that this does not excuse them from accommodating at least some of the Jewish People. Is hospitality an all or nothing proposition?!]

He quotes the Dubno Maggid who explains (without a parable, I am sorry 🙂 that the financial excuse does not cut it for the Moabites. The verses record that Bilaam was offered any amount of money he could have wanted:

15Then Balak again sent leaders, more numerous and more distinguished than the former. 16They came to Balaam and said to him, “Thus says Balak the son of Zippor, ‘Let nothing, I beg you, hinder you from coming to me; 17for I will indeed honor you richly, and I will do whatever you say to me. Please come then, curse this people for me.’”18Balaam replied to the servants of Balak, “Though Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not do anything, either small or great, contrary to the command of the LORD my God.

Thus, the verses are telling us that in reality the Moabites had plenty of money and surely could have afforded to give the Jewish People mere bread and water. Since they failed to do so, they are not fit to become part of the Jewish People, for one of the traits of The Jewish People is showing kindness to others.

So why, then, are we allowed to marry the women of Moab? (See The Book of Ruth.) Of course, there is the famous exposition of the verses- “A male Moabite (you may not marry) but not a female Moabite (whom you may marry). However, if we are not allowed to mix with such morally regnant people, why the difference in genders?

I have heard that the men were the ones responsible for accommodating guests and not the women. Thus, the women should not be held accountable. Indeed, I found this idea stated by Rav Shlomo Carlebach.

Good Shabbos.


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