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Friday, July 24

The Weekly Shtikle - Devarim

When Moshe Rabbeinu tells over the story of the war with Sichon, he states first (2:24) that HaShem told him, "Behold I have given over to you Sichon, king of Cheshbon, the Emorite and his land... wage war with him!" Only two pesukim later we are told that Moshe sent messengers to Sichon asking for permission to peacefully walk through his land. But this we already know from parshas Chukas. HaShem's charge for war, however, was not mentioned in Chukas. What is more puzzling, though, is Moshe's peaceful gesture to Sichon after he was explicitly instructed to wage war with him.

Indeed, Ramban makes this very point and insists that the instruction from HaShem came after Moshe's request was vehemently denied as there is simply no other way to explain the pesukim. The reason why this pasuk comes early, writes Ramban, is to convey the message that this was all in HaShem's plans from before hand. HaShem's hardening of Sichon's heart, as mentioned six pesukim later, began before the episode ever took place so that these events should transpire.
The Midrash Lekach Tov, however, suggests that these pesukim are in fact in perfect order. Although Moshe Rabbeinu was told to go to war with Sichon, Moshe learned a lesson from HaShem's own actions with Paroah and the Egyptians. Although they were due to collapse and be utterly destroyed, HaShem gave Paroah ample chances to let B'nei Yisroel go peacefully and quietly. Moshe therefore inferred that although it was HaShem's will to wage war with Sichon, he had a responsibility to first offer a peaceful pass-through.

Have a good Shabbos and may we merit to see this month turn from "eivel" to Yom Tov and witness the coming of Moshiach and the rebuilding of the Beis HaMikdash bimheira beyameinu.


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