Parshas Matos: Battle Lessons

unnamed (55) copyIn the first of this week’s parshios, Parshas Matos, as the nation prepares to cross the Jordan River and enter into the Holy Land, the Torah records, in great detail, the account of the Israelite war against the Midianite nation.  As they prepare for battle, Moshe is commanded to take a thousand men from each tribe to go out to fight: אֶלֶף, לַמַּטֶּה, אֶלֶף, לַמַּטֶּה–לְכֹל מַטּוֹת יִשְׂרָאֵל, תִּשְׁלְחוּ לַצָּבָאA thousand (men) per tribe, a thousand per tribe, for all the tribes of Israel shall you send to the army (Bamidbar 31:4). 

According to one opinion in the Medrash, since it says אֶלֶף, לַמַּטֶּה three times (twice in v.4 and once in v.5), each tribe actually sent three thousand men to battle.  Hence, the total tally of men sent to war was: 12,000 to fight, 12,000 to guard the supplies, and 12,000 to pray. 

From here we learn the importance of prayer in battle.  It is not enough to go out to war and fight; we must always keep our eyes and hearts upward, towards our Father in heaven.  ישראל בטח בה׳, עזרם ומגנם הוא – Yisrael trusts in Hashem, He is their Help and their Shield (Ps.115:9). 

אֶלֶף, לַמַּטֶּה, אֶלֶף, לַמַּטֶּה–לְכֹל מַטּוֹת יִשְׂרָאֵל, תִּשְׁלְחוּ לַצָּבָאA thousand (men) per tribe, a thousand per tribe, for all the tribes of Israel shall you send to the army (Num.31:4). 

The Ba’al HaTurim teaches that this verse begins with an alef and ends with an alef, לומר לך שכלם היה להם לב א’ לאביהם שבשמים – to teach you that all of them (those who went out to battle), were of one heart, dedicated to their Father in heaven

From here we learn the importance of unity in battle.  It is not enough for each man to go out for himself, to himself, but each man must be united with his brother in arms, both of them dedicated to their cause, fighting l’shem Shomayim – for the sake of Heaven.  וַיִּחַן-שָׁם יִשְׂרָאֵל נֶגֶד הָהָר – And Israel camped there opposite the mountain (Lev.19:2), Rashi: like one man with one heart.

The unity of Torah must accompany us through all times in life, in all situations, in every instance. 

אֶלֶף, לַמַּטֶּה, אֶלֶף, לַמַּטֶּה–לְכֹל מַטּוֹת יִשְׂרָאֵל, תִּשְׁלְחוּ לַצָּבָאA thousand (men) per tribe, a thousand per tribe, for all the tribes of Israel shall you send to the army (Num.31:4). 

The Ba’al HaTurim (Num.31:6) teaches: והנשיאים לא שלח עמהם כדי שלא יתבייש שבט שמעון שנהרג נשיא משבטו – And Moshe sent them to war, but did not send the princes of the tribes out to battle, in order not to embarrass the tribe of Shimon, whose prince (Zimri) was (previously) killed (by Pinchas, when Zimri was publicly sinning with a Midianite woman!).  Nevertheless, to spare the tribe of Shimon shame, Moshe did not send the tribal leaders out to battle.

From here we learn the importance of respecting the dignity of our fellow man.  Despite the fact that the prince of Shimon brought punishment upon himself with his lewd and promiscuous behavior, Moshe wanted to spare his tribe any undue shame. 

From all of the above we learn how Jews must always behave in battle….and in life

Our eyes must always be turned upward in prayer; we must be united in our hearts, as we go forth in life; and we must be sensitive, kind and caring to the needs and feelings our of fellow Jews. 

Of her son, Eliraz (1978-2010) HY”D (Maj. Eliraz Peretz, 32 years old), who fell in battle in the Gaza Strip, Miriam Peretz writes, “I have a feeling that Eliraz’s last thought was of the Jewish people, that even in the last moment of his life, he was occupied with the great mission that stood before him, not with private thoughts.  That’s my feeling, but in his pants pocket we found drawings that his children made for him.  He had taken them with him on the mission.  In another pocket was a book of Tehillim. 

“When they brought me Eliraz’s tallit, I sniffed it.  It smelled of the army, of the grease they use on the rifles.  I pictured Eliraz at the height of his holiness.  That grease symbolized the struggle of our spirit and faith: the tallit that belonged to a combat soldier enfolded a book of Tehillim and a rifle.”

Prayer, unity and sensitivity….Battle Lessons….Life Lessons. 

בברכת חדש טוב ושבת שלום,

Michal

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1 Comment
  • Carol Spodek
    Posted at 09:31h, 05 August Reply

    May we merit the strength of unity and caring for each other.
    Good Shabbos!

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