Matos Maasei – Torah Themes

Parshas Matos


Internal Job


Gali Razah explains that the reason we must wash our hands in the morning is because they contain nails which are a place that the ruach rah of tumah is able to settle. For this reason one should not grow his nails very long. The exception to this is for a mohel, who will use the long nails in the bris process (for p’riah). Using this nail itself, which is a seat for tumah, the mohel neutralizes the arlah, which is also a tamei concept that must be circumcised. Thus, all kings or warriors who fight against a nation and their tumah, must have something to do with that nation, from within, so that he can best destroy it, as it says (Yeshayahu 49:17), “your defector and destroyer will come from you.” This is why Pinchas, who came from Putiel, Yisro, who was a priest in Midyan before he converted, was the one who had to fight the evil Midyan. David came from Rus the Moaviah and thus he was able to destroy Moav. We also find that Ovadia HaNavi, who was an Edomite convert, specifically received prophesy about the downfall of Edom (See Sefer Ovadia).


Nod to Evil


Rav Tzadok explains that the evil forces try to prevent the success of kedusha. The only way to circumvent them is to have some connection to tumah. Thus, for example, the entire line that leads of to Mashiach is fraught with incidents that seem very impure, but upon close examination are really kosher. Thus, we find the Bnos Lot who produced Midyan and Moav, from which Naamah and Rus came, Yehuda and Tamar who had Peretz and David and Batsheva who had Shlomo. Each incident seems bad, but upon careful examination, was perfectly acceptable. Mashiach comes from this line and it is only through the conduit of actions that outwardly seem impure that the forces of evil cannot stop it.


Final Redemption


It is really even deeper. Moshe was raised by Pharaoh and thus he was the one who had the power to destroy Pharaoh. It was because of his exposure to Pharaoh, yet his commitment to stay pure that made Moshe so great. The Midrash says that the same phenomenon will exist with Mashiach. Mashiach will be raised in the palace of the enemy. What this could mean, based on the world we live in, is that Mashiach will grow up in the lap of luxary and perversion which each of us is exposed to and has access to daily. From that place of exposure, comes the inner conviction to fight the evil and to rise above it.


Holiness and Eretz Yisrael


The tribes of Reuven, Gad and half of Menashe wished to have land in the Jordan area. They were granted this request. Yalkut Reuveni (Vayeitzei, p. 256) quotes a passage from Asarah Maamaros about this episode. What is interesting to note is the impact of holiness upon each person’s future generaitons. Here is the quote:


Reuven was born from Leah, in a time that Yaakov believed he was really with Rachel. This was a slight pgam. Gad was conceived when Leah gave Zilpah, her maidservant, to Yaakov, without first telling Yaakov. Asnas, Yosef’s wife, was the daughter of Dina from Shchem. Thus, Yosef’s children had a half pgam, they came from holy stock, Dina and half impure stock, Shchem. Yosef’s first born thus had a pgam that half of his tribe could not reside in Eretz Yisrael proper. Efraim was unaffected.



Parshas Maasei


Many Opportunities


We know that at the bris bein habesarim Avraham was told about the four galiyos that his children would have. The question is: Why is Egypt not counted as the first of the galiyos, thereby making 5. Also, what would have happened if the Jews wouldn’t have served the Eigel? Would they not have been able to enter Eretz Yisrael and thereby bypass the 4 Galiyos?


The Asarah Maamaros (and Maharal as well) explains that Egypt really encapsulated all four of the Galiyos. The opening words of our parsha, “Eileh maasei bnei Yisrael” start with the letters: Alef, Mem, Beis and Yud. They stand for: Alef-Edom, Mem-Madi, Beis-Bavel and Yud-Yavan. Because the Jews said Eileh Elohecha Yisrael, when they served the Eigel, they had to go through Eileh Maaseia and would need to go through the 4 goluyus in greater detail in order to reach perfection.


In life, our job is to do our best and to follow Hashem. We do not get distracted by calculations and questions of how and why. Hashem has an exact calculation for all of us and for what we each need. Hashem wants us to succeed and if we do His will, He has ways to expedite our success process. On the other hand, if we do not follow Him, this can cause the repair process to take longer.

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