Monthly Archives: 12 Elul 5775

Parshas Mattos 5775

 On the possuk “Take revenge for Bnei Yisroel from the Midyanim….” the Medrash Tanchuma  comments, “Our teachers asked, ‘How many times do we sound the Shofar Erev Shabbos to remind the people to stop working?’ (The Medrash answers) ‘Three times…. What is the reason for this? Because Shabbos is sanctified with the sounding of the Shofar!”

Zera Shimshon asks why does the Medrash mention the halacha of sounding the Shofar Erev Shabbos in connection with the mitzvo to wage war against Midyan? How are they connected?

To answer this question he first explains that this war against Midyan was permitted to be initiated even on Shabbos. (He explains the source for this is, as Rashi points out, the original commandment to attack the Midyanim (written in last week’s Parsha), is not written in the imperative form but rather in the continuous present form. From this we learn that this mitzvah is constant-even on Shabbos.)

This, however, has to be understand. Halachakly there are two types of wars, each one with its own halachos. There is an obligatory war (milchemes mitzvo) which is permitted to be initiated on Shabbos. There is also a voluntary war (milchemes reshoos) that not only is it ossur to start it on Shabbos but it is ossur to start it even 3 days before Shabbos!

According to this, he asks, if this war is considered an obligatory war, why did the Torah write the mitzvo in the unusual continuous present form? Even if it was written in the common imperative form we would know that the war “overrides” Shabbos, just like all obligatory wars!

And if it is considered a voluntary war it is also difficult to understand; why is it different than other voluntary wars that are prohibited to start on Shabbos?

He explains that even though Bnei Yisroel were commanded to wage are against  Midyan, it is not considered like an obligatory war that must be fought right away since Moshe’s death is connected with it. However it was different than other voluntary wars. The Shach on the Torah writes that we really didn’t need weapons for this war. It was fought supernaturally. We only took weapons to give the Midyanim the impression that we will  fight a conventional war but in actually the war was fought by itself. (The Sha’ch brings a few sources to proof this point). 

The Bais Yosef in hilchos Shabbos explains that the reason for the prohibition to fight a war on Shabbos (or three days before) is that it will disturb our oneg Shabbos

This being so, posits Zera Shimshon, the prohibition only applies to other wars that are fought conventionally when there is fear of being hurt or killed. However, since this war against Midyan was fought supernaturally and there was no reason to worry and therefore it is permitted even on Shabbos!

However, according to this, why did they bring the chatzrossos (shofars) with them into the war? The main purpose of the chatzrossos was in order to davven to Hashem when they are afraid. But if they were totally calm (and therefore were permitted to fight even on Shabbos) why did they need to bring the chatrossos?

This question, concludes the Zera Shimshon is what bothered the Medrash Tanchuma; Why did they need to bring the chatzrossos

The Medrash answers that they were NOT needed for the same reason that they are needed in other wars; to sound it when they were scared and to davven to Hashem. Rather they were  needed in order to warn the people that even though that it was permitted to wage war on Shabbos other melachos (work) that are not connected to the war were still prohibited!
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Parshas Pinchus 5775

And in the seventh month, on the first day, there shall be a holy convocation for you; you shall not perform any mundane work. It shall be a day of shofar sounding for you. You shall offer up (lit. make) a burnt offering… (Bamidbar 29/1-2)

The Medrash comments, “Rav Tachlipha asks that in all the musoffim of the other Yom Tovim it says that you should bring the korbon as a sacrifice but here it says that you should make it! (Rav Tachlipha explains) Hashem said to Yisroel today I (Hashem) look at you as if you were newly created, as if I created you a new being!”

In other words, Rav Tachlipha learns that the phrase “you should make” does not go on the mussaf sacrifice but rather it means that through the mussaf you make yourself.

Zera Shimshon asks how do we benefit from the fact that we are re-created on Rosh Hashana

He answers in light of a concept that he mentions in other places; even after one does teshuva for a sin that he committed the purification process is not over. Although Hashem atones us for what we did, we still have to be cleansed from the pleasure that we got for doing the specific sin. Sometimes this is done through suffering and pain (yissurim) and sometimes Hashem cleanses us simply through great mercy. (This is the meaning of what we say at the end of the confession on Yom Kippur “Erase (our sins) through Y.our great mercy but not through yissurim)

A proof to this idea is found in the Talmud Yerushalmi (Bikkurim) that says that a Talmid Chochom, someone who gets married, and a leader of Clal Yisroel are granted atonement for their sins. 

Zera Shimshon asks how do we understand this Gemorra? If these people didn’t do teshuva why should their status atone for them? If they did do teshuva, why do they need their status to atone for them? Why isn’t teshuva enough?

From here we can extrapolate the above concept; even when these people actually do do teshuva it is not enough to be TOTALLY pure. Most people still need to endure yissurim to complete the purification process. The Yerushalmi teaches us that the status of these three types of people, after they do teshuva, totally purifies them without having to suffer yissurim.

In light of the above we can now understand the benefit being re-created on Rosh Hashana. The Medrash teaches us that when a person sins and brings a korbon, the korbon brings us closer to Hashem. However that person is still not completely pure. The pleasure that he had when he did the sin still taints his neshama.

On Rosh HaShona it is different. The tremendous kedusha of the day, doesn’t only bring us close to Hashem but it makes us into a new being just like a convert who converts who is considered re-born. And just like a convert becomes a new person to such a degree that he is not held at all responsible for that he did before the conversion (according to one opinion in the Gemorro), so to on Rosh Hashana the kedusha of the day totally remakes us, and if we do teshuva there is no need for any “yissurim” to fully purify us!
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