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ויעל אהרן הכהן אל הר ההר על פי ד' וימת שם

Aharon HaKohen went up to Har HaHar at the word of Hashem and died there. (33:38)

As believing Jews, we adhere to the concept of Hashgachah Pratis, Divine Providence, which means: The world’s continued existence is directly/solely dependent upon the ratzon Hashem, will of G-d. Once a man creates an entity, the creation becomes a separate entity, apart from its creator. Veritably, he created it, but now, it exists in its own right. Furthermore, each individual creation often gains control over its creator. While human beings have within them the power and capability to be creative, to unleash forces or to combine them, they are unable to control their creations or bridle the forces they have…

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וד' יסלח לה כי הניא אביה אתה

And Hashem will forgive her, for her father had restrained her. (30:6)

The implication is that the girl sinned, and, as a result, she requires Hashem’s forgiveness; but if her father had revoked her nedarim, what prohibition did she transgress? This applies to a girl who was unaware that her nedarim had been revoked, and, despite being bound by neder (in her mind), she violated its terms. In actuality, she did not sin, but she certainly acted inappropriately, thus mandating for herself some form of repentance. Chazal compare this to one who meant to eat ham and instead ended up eating kosher meat. Technically, he did not sin, but his intention was…

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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)

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…

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וידבר משה אל ראשי המטות

Moshe spoke to the heads of the tribes. (30:2)

It is good to digress once in a while to gain insight into the eminence of those individuals who have ascended the ladders of Torah erudition sufficiently to be called Roshei ha’mattos, heads of the tribes. Someone asked Horav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, how many times the word “Moshe” is mentioned in the Torah. He replied, “614 times.” The questioner countered that he had checked with a computer, and the total was 616. Rav Chaim disputed this, claiming that the computer had erred. “Moshe” appears in the Torah exactly 614 times. The man was shocked. How could the computer be wrong?…

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אלה מסעי בני ישראל ... ויכתב משה את מוצאיהם למסעיהם על פי ד'

These are the journeys of Bnei Yisrael… Moshe wrote their goings forth according to their journeys at the bidding of Hashem. (33:1,2)

The journeys of Klal Yisrael from the time they left Egypt until their arrival in the Holy Land are significant, since the Torah underscores them. The Torah only contains events that have importance for posterity. Moshe recorded these journeys by the word of Hashem, because (according to Rambam), in this way, the nation would remember the miraculous events which occurred in the wilderness for all time. Veritably, some of these miracles were clearly evident, such as the Clouds of Glory and the manna. As we all know only too well, however, memory fades, and doubters and skeptics are likely to…

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ויאמר בני גד ובני ראובן אל משה... עבדיך יעשו כאשר אדני מצוה ... עבדיך יעברו כל חלוץ צבא לפני ד' למלחמה כאשר אדני דבר

Bnei Gad and Bnei Reuven said to Moshe… Your servants shall do as my lord commands… And your servants shall cross over, every armed person of the legion, before Hashem, to do battle, as my lord speaks. (32:25,27)

Moshe Rabbeinu exhorted Bnei Gad and Bnei Reuven to assume their share of the battle of conquering Eretz Yisrael, concluding, “V’nichb’shah ha’aretz lifnei Hashem, v’achar tashuvu, “And the Land; shall be conquered before Hashem, and then you shall return” (ibid 32:22).  Chazal (Midrash) comment that Moshe’s statement, V’achar tashuvu, “And then you shall return,” was fulfilled b’m’lo muvan ha’milah, to the word. Every member of Bnei Gad and Bnei Reuven returned home from the war and apportioning of the Land, a total of fourteen years.  Not a single one died, not even of natural causes! Tzaddik gozeir v’Hakadosh Boruch Hu…

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נקום נקמת בני ישראל מאת המדינים אחר תאסף אל עמיך

Take vengeance for Bnei Yisrael against the Midyanim; afterward you will be gathered unto your people. (31: 2)

Hashem informed Moshe Rabbeinu that he would leave this world once Klal Yisrael destroyed Midyan. Then Klal Yisrael would be avenged. Once Klal Yisrael exacted vengeance, Moshe’s “work” (so to speak) would be complete. Although Moshe was acutely aware that once he completed this mitzvah he would die, he executed the vengeance with amazing alacrity. A mitzvah is a mitzvah, even if it meant that it would hasten his own demise. The Torah writes that the Jewish People waged war with Midyan, and they succeeded in killing all males. Among them was Bilaam ben Be’or, the pagan prophet who was…

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כל דבר אשר יבא באש תעבירו באש וטהר אך במי נדה ותחטא

Everything that comes into the fire – you shall pass through the fire, but it must be purified with the water of the sprinkling. (31:23)

The Torah discusses the laws of kashering utensils. Horav Chaim Volozhiner, zl, observes that the Torah’s concept of “clean” is quite different than the secular perspective. Take any utensil that has been washed/scrubbed and dried. It is now pristine. Indeed, it cannot be any cleaner. Yet, if within the last twenty-four hours it has been used to cook a piece of non-kosher meat, it is considered ritually treif. If one were to cook a piece of kosher, mehadrin min ha’mehadrin meat in this utensil, the meat is unquestionably treif. But is it clean? Yes, to the naked eye it appears…

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והנה קמתם תחת אבתיכם תרבות אנשים חטאים לספות עוד על חרון אף ד' אל ישראל. כי תשובן מאחריו ויסף עוד להניחו במדבר ושחתם לכל העם הזה

And behold you have risen up in the place of your fathers, a group of transgressors, to add to Hashem’s anger against Yisrael. For if you will turn away from Him, He will once again let them remain in the Wilderness, and you will destroy this entire nation. (32:14,15)

The Tribes of Reuven and Gad approached Moshe Rabbeinu with a unique request. It was not as if they did not care about Eretz Yisrael; it was just that, on the eastern side of the Yarden River, the newly-conquered land was extremely fertile. This would be a boon for the many livestock which they possessed. Thus, they hoped to be allowed to remain on eiver ha’Yarden, rather than move to Eretz Yisrael proper. They did not mean to be insolent. They were just being practical. Grass was more plentiful here. Why shlep to Eretz Yisrael, if what they needed for…

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לא יחל דברו ככל היוצא מפיו יעשה

He shall not desecrate his word; according to whatever comes from his mouth, he should do. (30:3)

The word of a Jew is sacred. He must stand behind his word. When a person does not keep his word, he is mechallel diburo, desecrates his word. Chillul is a strong term. We use the term chillul with regard to desecrating Hashem’s Name – chillul Hashem. Also, when a bas Kohen, daughter of a Kohen, acts in a morally profligate manner, the Torah writes, Es avihah hee mechalleles, “She desecrates her father” (Vayikra 21:9). Apparently, the sanctity of a Kohen, the sacredness of a person’s word, are of a similar nature to the sanctity of Hashem, in the sense…

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