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Friday, July 17

The Weekly Shtikle - Matos / Mas'ei

This coming Sunday, 27 Tammuz, is the second yahrtzeit of my cousin, Mrs. Michelle Jakobovits. The shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmasah, Rochel Mirel bas Shmuel HaLevi.


I was intrigued by an interesting anomaly with the war against Midyan. In last week's parsha, at the very beginning, HaShem begins to instruct Moshe concerning the upcoming battle. Then, suddenly, that entire subject is abandoned for the rest of the parsha until we return to that topic in this week's parsha. What exactly was the purpose of that initial command and why is it disjointed from the actual carrying out of the instructions?


I wasn't able to come up with any satisfactory explanations so I will instead include a different thought concerning the war with Midyan. Targum Yonasan (31:7) explains, based on Sifrei, that B'nei Yisrael were commanded to attack Midyan from three sides and leave the fourth open. Rambam brings this practice as halachah in Hilchos Melachim 6:7 but does not include it in Sefer HaMitzvos. Ramban, however, lists it as part of his enumeration of mitzvos that Rambam "forgot" to include.


Meshech Chachmah here explains the disagreement between the two. Rambam is of the opinion that this military tactic is only advice on the best way to go about attacking an enemy. If an enemy is invaded from all sides, they will know that there is no way out and will fight with all their might. However, if they have an escape route, they will not be so determined to fight for they know they can rely on an escape. Therefore, it is brought in the halachos as a suggestion but it does not constitute a halachah in and of itself in the context of a mitzvah.


Ramban, however, adds that reasoning behind this tactic is to have pity on the enemy to allow them a way to escape if they do not want to fight a war, akin to the mitzvah of offering peace before waging war against an enemy. Since this is an obligation and not a suggestion, it is counted as a mitzvah in and of itself.


Chazak, chazak, venischazeik!

Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:

Dikdukian: The Cold has Passed

Dikdukian: Watch out for those Mapiks!

Dikdukian: To Afflict or to Answer

Dikdukian: The Interrogative

Dikdukian: The first aliyah in Mas'ei

Dikdukian: They are Correct, Sir!

Dikdukian: Whose Tribe is it Anyway?

Al Pi Cheshbon: Splitting up the Animals

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