Pearls of Rashi – Matos-Massei II

In this week’s Torah portion, Matos-Massei, we are told of the passing of Moshe’s brother, Aharon, the High Priest[1]. It was in his merit that the clouds of glory had protected the Jews throughout the years they wandered in the desert. Hence with his passing, the miraculous clouds passed as well[2]. The Torah tells us shortly thereafter that[3] “the Canaanite king of Arad, who lived in the south of the land of Canaan, heard that the Jewish Nation had arrived.”

What was it that the Canaanite king heard? Rashi cites the words “the Canaanite … heard,” and comments as follows. These words come “to teach you that it was the news of Aharon’s death that he heard, for the clouds of glory had been removed. He thought that permission had been given to wage war against the Jews …”

Just who was this Canaanite king? The Torah used the very same expression earlier[4]; “the Canaanite king of Arad heard.” There Rashi tells us that this Canaanite king was Amalek. Rashi tells us there that Amalek saw that Aharon had passed away, and the clouds of glory had been removed. What Rashi is telling here is that because the Jew’s protection had been removed, Amalek thought that they had been granted permission to wage war against them.

Why did Amalek suddenly feel the need for “permission” to fight against the Jews? Rashi writes there that Amalek had always been “a whip used to rebuke Israel. They were ready at any time to punish the Jews.” Furthermore, we see that Amalek had attacked Israel earlier in Rephidim[5], when Aharon was still alive!

Here Rashi is teaching us a very important lesson. Indeed, Amalek did not require “permission” to attack the Jews. All that they needed was the opportunity to attack. The removal of the clouds of glory provided them with a superb opportunity. However, here they were not attacking in the usual manner of Amalek, rather in the manner of Canaan. They thought that permission (rather than opportunity) was granted for them to attack the Jews. It had nothing to do with the removal of the clouds of glory, rather it was due to the passing of Aharon. Here Rashi is teaching us how significant the passing of a Tzaddik is.

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

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Taken from Biurim L’Pirush Rashi Volume 4, Page 290

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 33:38.

[2]. They later returned in Moshe Rabbeinu’s merit.

[3]. Our Parshah, Bamidbar 33:40.

[4]. Parshas Chukas, Bamidbar 21:1.

[5]. Parshas Beshalach, Shemos 17:8.

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