Parshas Matos - Binding yourself to Hashem' salvation
The passuk says in this week’s sedrah
וַיְדַבֵּר מֹשֶׁה אֶל רָאשֵׁי הַמַּטּוֹת לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל לֵאמֹר זֶה הַדָּבָר אֲשֶׁר צִוָּה ה'. אִישׁ כִּי יִדֹּר נֶדֶר לַה' אוֹ הִשָּׁבַע שְׁבֻעָה לֶאְסֹר אִסָּר עַל נַפְשׁוֹ לֹא יַחֵל דְּבָרוֹ כְּכָל הַיֹּצֵא מִפִּיו יַעֲשֶׂה.
Moses spoke to the heads of the tribes of the benei yisrael saying. “This is what Hashem has commanded. If a man makes a vow to Hashem or takes an oath imposing an obligation on himself, he shall not break his pledge; he must carry out all that has crossed his lips.”
The Yalkut Shimoni says (remez 784)
זה הדבר אשר צוה ה'. מגיד שכשם שנתנבא משה בכה כך נתנבאו הנביאים בכה, ומוסיף עליהם משה שנאמר בו זה הדבר.
Moshe said, “This is the matter which Hashem has commanded.” This teaches you, that just as Moshe said nevuah using the word כה - approximately thus, so too the nevi’im said nevuah using the word כה. However Moshe was greater than them because it says concerning his nevuah, זה הדבר – this is the exact matter.
- Why does the Torah teach us that Moshe’s nevuah was greater than that of the nevi’im with regards to the halachos of נדרים and שבועות specifically?
- Why does the Yalkut Shimoni say that Moshe said nevuah using the word כה just as the other nevi’im did? Surely all of the nevuah of Moshe from the first time Hashem revealed Himself to him at the סנה, was a greater נבואה that that of the nevi’im, according to the greater מדרגה of Moshe?
- Moshe said the words זה הדבר many times, for example
זֶה הַדָּבָר אֲשֶׁר צִוָּה ה' לִקְטוּ מִמֶּנּוּ אִישׁ לְפִי אָכְלוֹ עֹמֶר לַגֻּלְגֹּלֶת מִסְפַּר נַפְשֹׁתֵיכֶם אִישׁ לַאֲשֶׁר בְּאָהֳלוֹ תִּקָּחוּ (שמות ט"ז ט"ז)
וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה אֶל כָּל עֲדַת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל לֵאמֹר זֶה הַדָּבָר אֲשֶׁר צִוָּה ה' לֵאמֹר (שמות ל"ה ד')
וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה זֶה הַדָּבָר אֲשֶׁר צִוָּה ה' תַּעֲשׂוּ וְיֵרָא אֲלֵיכֶם כְּבוֹד ה' (ויקרא ט' ו')
זֶה הַדָּבָר אֲשֶׁר צִוָּה ה' לִבְנוֹת צְלָפְחָד לֵאמֹר לַטּוֹב בְּעֵינֵיהֶם תִּהְיֶינָה לְנָשִׁים אַךְ לְמִשְׁפַּחַת מַטֵּה אֲבִיהֶם תִּהְיֶינָה לְנָשִׁים (במדבר ל"ו ו')
If so, why does the Yalkut Shimoni say here specifically that we learn from the words זה הדבר that Moshe’s nevuah was greater than that of the other nevi’im?
The passuk says in Yeshaya (9:6 – 7)
לְםַרְבֵּה הַמִּשְׂרָה וּלְשָׁלוֹם אֵין קֵץ עַל כִּסֵּא דָוִד וְעַל מַמְלַכְתּוֹ לְהָכִין אֹתָהּ וּלְסַעֲדָהּ בְּמִשְׁפָּט וּבִצְדָקָה מֵעַתָּה וְעַד עוֹלָם קִנְאַת ה' צְבָקוֹת תַּעֲשֶׂה זֹּאת. דָּבָר שָׁלַח ה' בְּיַעֲקֹב וְנָפַל בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל.
By the abundance of rulership and with peace without limit on the throne of Dovid and on his kingdom to establish it and to support it in justice and charity from now and forever, the zealousness of Hashem will do this. Hashem send a matter in Yaakov and it spread amongst the benei yisrael.
The gemara in Sanhedrin (94a) comments on פסוק ו':
א"ר תנחום דרש בר קפרא בציפורי מפני מה כל מ"ם שבאמצע תיבה פתוח וזה סתום ביקש הקב"ה לעשות חזקיהו משיח וסנחריב גוג ומגוג אמרה מדת הדין לפני הקב"ה רבש"ע ומה דוד מלך ישראל שאמר כמה שירות ותשבחות לפניך לא עשיתו משיח חזקיה שעשית לו כל הנסים הללו ולא אמר שירה לפניך תעשהו משיח לכך נסתתם
Rabbi Tanchum said, “Bar Kapara explained in Tzipori, ‘Why is every letter mem in the middle of a word open (מ) but this mem is closed (לְםַרְבֵּה)? Hashem wanted to make Chizkiyahu into mashiach and the war with Sancheriv into the war of Gog and Magog. However the מדת הדין said before Hashem, “Master of the Universe, if Dovid who said so many songs and praises before you was not made into mashiach, then should we say that Chizkiyahu for whom you performed all these miracles and yet he did not say shirah before you, should you make him into mashiach?” And that is why the mem is closed.’”
The gemara in Chullin (91a) comments on פסוק ז':
אמר ר' יוסי ברבי חנינא מאי דכתיב (ישעיהו ט', ז') דבר שלח ביעקב ונפל בישראל דבר שלח ביעקב זה גיד הנשה ונפל בישראל שפשט איסורו בכל ישראל
Rabbi Yossi the son of Rabbi Chanina said, “What does the passuk mean when it says, דבר שלח ביעקב ונפל בישראל?
דבר שלח ביעקב – this refers to the gid hanashe.
ונפל בישראל – means that the issur of the gid hanashe spread amongst the benei yisrael.
- What is the connection between Chizkiyahu not saying shirah and the issur of the gid hanashe?
The Medrash Tanchuma says in Vayishlach (8)
וְאָמַר רַבִּי יַנַּאי, הַנּוֹדֵר וְאֵינוֹ מְשַׁלֵּם, פִּנְקָסוֹ מִתְבַּקֶּרֶת לִפְנֵי הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא וְאוֹמֵר: הֵיכָן פְּלוֹנִי בֶּן פְּלוֹנִי שֶׁנָּדַר נֶדֶר בְּיוֹם פְּלוֹנִי. בֹּא וּרְאֵה, כְּשֶׁהָלַךְ יַעֲקֹב לַאֲרַם נַהֲרַיִם מַה כְּתִיב שָׁם, וַיִּדַּר יַעֲקֹב נֶדֶר לֵאמֹר וְגוֹ' (בראשית כ"ח, כ'). הֱשִׁיבוֹ עַל כָּל דָּבָר וְדָבָר. הָלַךְ וְנִתְעַשֵּׁר וּבָא וְיָשַׁב לוֹ וְלֹא שִׁלֵּם אֶת נִדְרוֹ, הֵבִיא עָלָיו עֵשָׂו וּבִקֵּשׁ לְהָרְגוֹ. נָטַל מִמֶּנּוּ כָּל אוֹתוֹ דוֹרוֹן, עִזִּים מָאתַיִם, וְלֹא הִרְגִּישׁ. הֵבִיא עָלָיו הַמַּלְאָךְ וְרָפַשׁ עִמּוֹ וְלֹא הִרְגִּישׁ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: וַיִּוָּתֵר יַעֲקֹב לְבַדּוֹ וַיֵּאָבֵק אִישׁ עִמּוֹ, זֶה סַמָּאֵל שָׂרוֹ שֶׁל עֵשָׂו שֶׁבִּקֵּשׁ לְהָרְגוֹ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: וַיַּרְא כִּי לֹא יָכֹל לוֹ, וְנַעֲשָׂה צוֹלֵעַ...
Rabbi Yannai said, “If someone makes a vow and does not fulfil it, his account book is examined before Hashem and He says, ‘Where is so-and-so who made a vow on such-and-such a day.’ Come and see, when Yaakov went to Aram Naharayim it that he made a vow. He became rich and he returned to Eretz Yisrael and he did not fulfil his vow. Hashem brought against him Esav who intended to kill him and who took away from him all that gift that Yaakov was forced to give him, and Yaakov did not realise why. Hashem brought a malach against Yaakov who wrestled with him and he became lame, and Yaakov did not realise why…
- Why is the punishment of one who delays fulfilling a neder so severe?
The Divrei Yoel explains as follows:
If someone is in a difficult situation and they make a neder in the name of Hashem, it is as if they have taken a loan from Hashem. Since we know that the world was created using the Name of Hashem, when they make a neder using this Name with which the world was created, it is as if they have pre-emptively asked Hashem to create that future state which they wish to reach, by using the Name of Hashem of creation, to refer to that time at which things will have turned out for the good.
Therefore if they reach that time and they did not fulfil their neder, it is as if they have short changed the Name of Hashem which they used to make their vow, because they previously bound themselves to the state that would exist in a future time by means of their neder, but when that time arrived, they did not acknowledge Hashem’s pre-emptive support that was the reason that they actually managed to survive and reach that time. This is why Yaakov was punished and became lame when he did not keep his neder immediately upon being saved from Lavan.
Similarly, Chizkiyahu was punished for not showing gratitude for the nissim that had been wrought to save him. Exactly the fact that Chizkiyahu did not say shirah indicated that he did not appreciate that Hashem had gratuitously brought the benei yisrael forward to a time when it would have been possible for them to be redeemed from all of their enemies, and that is why he did not become mashiach.
Based on this explanation we can understand that when the medrash explains that Moshe’s greatness is demonstrated by the fact that he said זה הדבר in regards to nedarim, the medrash means to say that Moshe gave the benei yisrael the ability themselves to use the Name of Hashem, through which he was מנבא, in order to be able to bind themselves to a future elevated or saved state by using the name of Hashem in order to make a נדר.
Namely, not only was Moshe himself מנבא באספקלריא המאירה, and so used the phrase זה הדבר, but he even gave the benei yisrael the ability to say זה הדבר, meaning to say that they would be able to know clearly the salvation or the elevation of the future, due to their respect for the Name of Hashem in which they would promise to serve Hashem when that future would arrive.