MDTW Parshas Matos/Maasei 2018/5778

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“To Stir the Mind and to Light up the Shabbos and the Holidays”

Parshas Matos/Maasei


Parshas Matos
Parshas Maasei
The Jewish Home

Parshas Matos

Sacrificing for the Klall

“וימסרו מאלפי ישראל אלף למטה” (במדבר לא:ה)

“And they gave over from amongst the thousands of Israel one thousand per tribe” (Bamidbar 31:5)

Apparently it should have said “וימסרו בני ישראל אלף למטה” / “And Bnei Yisrael gave over one thousand (warriors) per tribe? Why does it say “וימסרו מאלפי ישראל אלף למטה” / “And they gave over from amongst the thousands of Israel one thousand (warriors) per tribe”?

We can suggest that the special wording is meant to teach us that there were many thousands of people in each tribe who volunteered to battle against Midian. And, from here we learn that the Jewish people did complete teshuva/repentance for their sins with the women of Midian until they were willing to sacrifice their lives against Midian in war! “מאלפי ישראל” / “from the thousands of Israel” teaches us that the most worthy among them were chosen to fight against Midian.  

Tammuz 5776

Parshas Maasei

Leaving Egypt with an Uplifted

“יצאו בני ישראל ביד רמה לעיני כל מצרים” (במדבר לג:ג)

“Bnei Yisrael exited with an uplifted hand (spirit) in front of all of the Egyptian people” (Bamidbar 33:3)

Here it states “יצאו בני ישראל (ממצרים) ביד רמה” / “Bnei Yisrael exited (from Egypt) with an uplifted hand (spirit)” and above (posuk 1) it states“אלה מסעי בני ישראל אשר יצאו מארץ מצרים… ביד משה ואהרן” / “These are the travels of Bnei Yisrael who exited from the land of Egypt… through (the leadership) of Moshe and Aharon“. Why are Moshe and Aharon mentioned in the above posuk and not here?

We can suggest as follows: For here it says “לעיני כל מצרים” / “in front of all the Egyptians” and Hakadosh Baruch Hu wanted to praise the Jewish people by proclaiming that in the eyes of the Egyptians all the Jewish people were as great as Moshe and Aharon. Through this, the Torah is testifying that upon their exodus from Egypt the Jewish people were raised to a spiritual level leagues above the other nations. This is as the posuk states “הן עם לבדד ישכון ובגוים לא יתחשב” / “They are a nation who dwells alone and are not considered as part of the nations” (Bamidbar 23:9).

Nevertheless, we find an allusion to Moshe in our posuk as here it is written “ביד רמה” / “with an uplifted hand” and in Parshas Beshalach it states“והיה כאשר ירים משה ידו וגבר ישראל” / “And when Moshe raised his hand and Yisrael overcame” (Shemos 17:11) teaching us that just as the wording (there) “ירים” / “he lifted” is referring to Moshe, here too “ביד רמה” is referring to Moshe (and as well to Aharon who is included in Moshe).

There is an additional allusion to the above in that the letters of the word רמ”ה are the first letters of the words ר‘בינו מ‘שה ה‘לוי / Our rabbi Moshe the Levi, hinting to us that Moshe was one who took them out from Egypt.

Tammuz 5776

The Lesson the Spies Didn’t Learn from the Exodus from Egypt

“ומצרים מקברים את אשר הכה ה’ בהם כל בכור” (במדבר לג:ד)

“And the Egyptians were burying those whom Hashem struck in them all the first born” (Bamidbar 33:4)

Rashi comments that the Egyptians were engrossed in their mourning.

Why did the Torah bother to tell us this piece of information? In addition, we need to clarify why the whole parsha/paragraph is written in the past tense and this statement is written in the present tense?

It appears that the answer to the first question can be learned from the spies’ reaction to seeing the inhabitants of Canaan all burying their dead (Rashi) where they called Eretz Yisrael an “ארץ אוכלת יושביה היא” / “it is a land which consumes its inhabitants” (Bamidbar 13:32),

That is, when the spies saw the most unusual thing that everywhere they went the people were engrossed in burying their dead and this exactly when Bnei Yisrael were planning to conquer the land of Israel, they should have remembered that when they were leaving Egypt the very same thing happened and they should have taken it as a sign that just as Hashem took them out of Egypt while the Egyptians were engrossed in burying their dead, so too Hashem would help them conquer the land of Israel and that they had no reason to fear at all!

Afterwards, I saw that this teaching is included in Rashi’s commentary as he adds regarding the spies that Hakadosh Baruch Hu did a favor for the spies and brought about a plague so that the local inhabitants wouldn’t take notice of them. This is exactly as Rashi comments here that they were engrossed in their mourning, and this was a sign that Hashem will help them conquer the land of Israel.

With this we can answer our second question above why the whole parsha is written in the past tense and here it is written in the present tense, for the benefit of the plague of the first born did not end with the exodus from Egypt, rather Bnei Yisrael were meant to learn from their experience when they would attempt to conquer the land of Israel.

According to the above, we can suggest that one of the reasons Hakadosh Baruch Hu waited with the plague of the killing of the first born until right before the Jews left Egypt was in order to connect it as much as possible to Israel’s attempt to conquer Eretz Yisrael.

Another reason why the plague of the first born was the last of the plagues was in order to fill the hearts of the Jewish people with belief and trust in Hashem that just as they left their captivity in Egypt without any effort on their own, so too Hashem will help them conquer the land of Israel without any effort on their part!

Tammuz 5776

Each and every Travel and Encampment Alluded to a Great Lesson in Torah and Emunah/Faith for Bnei Yisrael

“ויסעו מים סוף ויחנו במדבר סין. ויסעו ממדבר סין ויחנו בדפקה” (במדבר לג:יא-יב)

“And they traveled from the Red Sea and they encamped in the Sinai Desert. And they traveled from the Sinai Desert and encamped in Dafka” (Bamidbar 33:11-12)

The mentioning of each and every point of travel and encampment of the Jewish people in their wandering for forty years in the wilderness needs explanation. And, even if we find a reason for the mention of each encampment, why was it necessary to repeat its name when they parted from that location?

We can suggest that the wording of “ויסעו” and “ויחנו” are hinting to the Avos/Forefathers for in their merit the Jewish people left Egypt and in their merit they would enter Israel. “ויסעו” / “and they traveled” is an action and it alludes to Avraham who was the source of all positive actions; that is positive mitzvos. On the other hand, “ויחנו” / “and they encamped” designates inaction and alludes to the merit of our forefather Yitzchak who was the pillar of negative commandments in which we are commanded to refrain from action.

Alternatively, we can suggest that the usage of “ויחנו” / “and they encamped” after each “ויסעו” / “and they traveled” teaches us that each journey had the purpose of reaching a specific location. The purpose was either to prepare them to conquer and then successfully live in Eretz Yisrael or to prepare them for survival in the different exiles they would reach in the future. In this light, the word “ויחנו” alludes to their “resting” from their enemies when they are forced to live in their lands. Or we can say that it alludes to Shabbos Kodesh, concerning which it is written “וינח ביום השביעי” / “and He rested on the seventh day” (Shemos 20:11) hinting to us that Shabbos is the life raft by which the Jewish people will be able to survive in golus/exile.

Rebbi Tzadok answers our question as follows: There were 42 travels and encampments which correspond to the 42 letters in the holy name of G-d. In each travel and encampment the Jewish people merited to attain the kedusha/sanctity of one of these 42 holy letters until with the completion of their journeys they absorbed kedusha from the full name of Hashem. He concludes that if they had merited to enter Eretz Yisrael with Moshe Rabbeinu, they would have merited to the complete and everlasting “encampment”/resting which we will merit to in the days to come.

Menachem Av 5776


Hashem Created all of His Creations with Great Wisdom

“מה רבו מעשיך ה’ כולם בחכמה עשית” (תהלים קד:כד)

“How great are the multitudes of Your creations Hashem all of them were created with wisdom” (Tehillim 104:24)

What does this posuk intend to teach us? Would we have thought for a moment that not all of Hashem’s creations were created with wisdom!?

In answer to the above, we can suggest that our posuk is an extension of the posuk “ויאמר אלקים נעשה אדם בצלמנו וכדמותנו” / “And Elokim said let us make man in our image and as our likeness” (Bereishis 1:26). Rashi explains that even though they (the heavenly angels) did not participate in the actual creation of man, the posuk is teaching us a lesson in correct behavior and in humility that a higher authority should take counsel with a lower authority before making a decision. This is an example of a creation of Hashem made with wisdom! Comes Dovid Hamelech and teaches us that just as this creation was done with great wisdom, so too all of Hashem’s many creations were created with great wisdom, only that Hakadosh Baruch Hu for His reasons concealed that wisdom.

Among the reasons we can fathom for this is man’s mental limitations, Hashem’s desire for man to build trust in Him and to increase man’s reward for trusting and believing in Him. In addition, this teaches man the path of inference and as well enables man to be in constant amazement of Hashem’s creations!

First day Rosh Chodesh Kislev 5776

The Jewish Home

Applying the Correct Educational Approach for each Stage in the Child’s Development

“חנוך לנער על פי דרכו גם כי יזקין לא יסור ממנה” (משלי כב:ו)


“Educate a child according to his way (so that) also when he becomes an elder he will not leave it (his path)” (Mishlei 22:6)

The posuk explicitly mentions two periods in the life of a person: his youthful days and his days as an elder. However, there is an additional period which is not explicitly mentioned here and that is the period of childhood. Now the question arises, if we are dealing with the education of children, why not mention this time period, especially since it is the most critical period of chinuch/educating!?

We can suggest with G-d’s help, that even though the main effort a parent puts forth in educating his children is when they are young, this is not the topic which Shlomo Hamelech chose to discuss here. Rather he is dealing with the second stage in a child’s development, the time of נערות / post childhood after the parent has completed the first stage of the child’s education. In this new stage, the child’s basic character; his “way” has been formed. In addition, although the child’s good inclination is strengthened, so too his evil inclination is strengthened. Shlomo Hamelech is warning the parent to be aware of the changes which have occurred in his or her child and to adjust his educational approach accordingly.

Whereas during the initial stage of a child’s education, the parent need not be too concerned about his or her “way” for it has not yet been formed and solidified, in the period of post-childhood everything changes. The “way” of the child is established as he changes from a child to a “youth”. A parent must take notice of this and not continue to educate his child as though he is still in the initial stage of development. Rather, he should relate to him or her as a maturing young man or woman who has his or her own particular “path” and personality and opinions.

Shlomo Hamelech then adds that if we relate to our child in each stage of his development as required, the education and the “way” he or she received from his parents will remain with him until his elderly years.

Nissan 5776


Have a nice Shabbos!
Shabbat Shalom!
Yona Vogel


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