Pearls of Rashi – Matos-Massei

This week’s Torah portion, Matos-Massei, begins with the laws of annulling vows. The Torah says[1] “If a man makes a vow to Hashem, or if he makes an oath to prohibit something from himself, he may not violate his word. He must do whatever came out of his mouth.” Rashi cites the words “he may not violate his words.” He explains that it means that “he shall not profane his word. He shall not treat his word as being unholy.” Simply put, Rashi is saying that one must keep his word.

Let us put this into context. The Jews were ending their forty years in the wilderness and standing on the brink of entering the Holy Land. What was the difference between life in the desert and the life which awaited them in Israel? In the wilderness they had no physical concerns whatsoever. They always had food to eat, the Manna which fell seven days a week[2]. They always had what to drink; water from Miriam’s well. They had no need to be concerned with clothing; their clothes were cleaned, pressed and grew with them thanks to the Clouds of Glory. These special clouds would also serve as their protection. Their only concern was following Hashem’s commandments and learning Torah from Moshe Rabbeinu, the world’s greatest Rosh Yeshivah.

Contrast that with the life which they would lead in Israel. They would have to work for their food. It would involve plowing, planting and harvesting. Only then would they be able to begin making food from the grain which they managed to collect! They would have to dig for water and make their own clothing. They would even need to build their own shelter.

What is the reason for this great change? The years in the desert were merely a preparation for what was to follow. This is similar to the first twenty years or so of a child’s life. The child is not concerned with paying bills. His main concern is doing well in Yeshivah. Once he gets married, all that changes. This was the same as the change which awaited the Jews in Israel. They made the necessary preparation which were needed to fulfill G-d’s purpose in creation, namely transforming this physical world into a dwelling place for Hashem below.

One fundamental part of the preparation is the laws of vows. Rashi explains this as “not profaning one’s word.” One may not make his word into something profane, i.e. not holy. Rather he must sanctify his words. Everything we say must be holy. This is a great step toward transforming this world into Hashem’s dwelling place.

Wishing one and all a good Shabbos! May we merit the time of the complete and true redemption now!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 13, Page 108-109

Mr. Sholom Moshe Hacohen
ben Reb Shlomo Meir Hacohen ע”ה Cohen
Passed away Shabbos Parshas Beshalach, 13 Shevat, 5779
May His Soul be bound in the Eternal Bond of Life
* * *
לעילוי נשמת
ר’ שלום משה הכהן בן ר’ שלמה מאיר הכהן ע”ה כהן
נפטר ש”ק פ’ בשלח, י”ג שבט, ה’תשע”ט
ת. נ. צ. ב. ה.
יו”ל ע”י בני משפחתו שיחיו

[1]. Our Parshah, Bamidbar 30:3.

[2]. It did not fall on Shabbos; however, we received a double-portion fell every Friday.

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