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Get the Job Done

By: Mrs. Bracha Krohn

In Parshat Matot, Moshe receives the commandment to fight Midyan and avenge the shame they brought on Bnei Yisrael by seducing them to sin with ba’al peor.  Chapter 31 tells us: “Avenge Bnei Yisrael…and then you shall be gathered to your nation,” i.e. when Moshe finishes this war, he will die. Abarbanel explains that this was reassurance for Moshe that his death was not so soon. The midrash, however, looks at it differently and suggests that Moshe was being told here that once he completes this specific task, his term as leader will be done. He will die right when this war is over! How would you respond to a commandment that basically signaled the end of your life? Would you go running to get the job done?

Surprisingly enough, Moshe, in the next pasuk, gets right on it; he takes a thousand soldiers from each tribe and appoints Pinchas to head this mission. How can someone be so fearless?  What motivated Moshe to see beyond his own impending death here?

Chazal say that Moshe was so honored to fulfill G-d’s requests/commandments that he always raced to do mitzvot – like when he designated the cities of refuge on the Eastern side of the Jordan River, even though they would not begin “working” until Bnei Yisrael entered Eretz Canaan and identified the other three cities. He just loved being part of any and all avodat Hashem.

Chizkuni mentions another idea which might explain how Moshe was able to jump into this mitzvah, although it meant hastening his death. Chizkuni draws attention to the fact that Moshe changed the wording just a bit when he repeated G-d’s command to Bnei Yisrael – in verse 3 Moshe says that the nation must “avenge G-d” by fighting Midyan. Hashem, by contrast, had labeled it a revenge for Bnei Yisrael! Moshe changed the focus and goal.

Moshe, it seems, understood that when Bnei Yisrael look bad, G-d looks bad. There will always be a chillul Hashem when there is a chillul of the nation.  And when it comes to G-d’s honor and glorifying His name or reclaiming honor for G-d, there is NOTHING more important to Moshe. If it means his death is one month or one week or even one hour closer, then that’s fine! Moshe was ready and quick to act.

What a lesson for us in this time of the three weeks when we mourn the destruction of the Beit haMikdash. When we are defeated by enemies and our buildings burn, Hashem’s glory in this world is decreased. May our teshuva, good deeds and ahavat chinam bring the return of the beit haMikdash but more importantly – restore G-d’s full glory in the world.

Shabbat Shalom




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