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וידבר משה אל ראשי המטות... לא יחל דברו בכל היוצא מפיו יעשה

Moshe spoke to the heads of the tribes… He shall not desecrate his words; according to whatever comes from his mouth shall he do. (30:2,3)

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The Tiferes Shlomo suggests that the root of matos is yateh, to turn. The roshei ha’mattos are the leaders of the people who have the ability to turn the hearts of the people toward a positive trajectory. The Torah commands them to guard and commit to whatever exits their mouths. In other words, they should not speak from “both sides of their mouths,” saying one thing and personally doing another. They must be consistent in personally adhering to what they expect of the people. Only then will they earn the respect to have the ability to be mateh, turn, the nation in the correct direction.

Furthermore, it must be zeh ha’davar asher tzivah Hashem; “This is the commandment of Hashem.” Hearsay is insufficient. The leader, or whoever is relating the law, must render the ruling based upon a clear and unimpeachable knowledge of and proficiency in halachah. The Klausenberger rebbe, zl, observed that all too often practices and even pseudo-halachah is based upon stories in which a chassid or follower relates what he has heard or seen, which is insufficient proof for establishing a practice. He was wont to say, “When a chassid says that he ‘saw’ a certain practice executed by his Rebbe, it means that he (only) heard about it. If he claims to have “heard” of it, one can be certain that it is a false report. Halachos should be established neither on stories nor on what one sees in practice. We have a Shulchan Aruch, Code of Jewish Law, for halachah, which should be our guidebook for executing our Divine mission in this world.

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