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Parashat Matot (English)



By Rav David Lhungdim

"If a man makes a vow to the Lord or makes an oath to prohibit himself, he shall not violate his word; according to whatever came out of his mouth, he shall do." (Bamidbar 30:3).

By saying, “It shall be prohibited just like a sacrifice, that I will not eat, or I will not do a certain thing.” One might think that even if he swears to eat carrion, I apply to him “according to whatever came out of his mouth, he shall do.” Scripture, therefore, states, “To prohibit”-to prohibit what is permitted, but not to permit what is prohibited. He shall not violate his word: Heb. לֹא יַחֵל דְּבָרוֹ, like לֹא יְחַלֵּל דְּבָרוֹ “he shall not profane his word,” he shall not treat his word as being unholy (Rashi).

In Gemara Shabbat (32b) we found the stringency of Nedarim (vow), a man's wife died because he doesn’t fulfill his vow. Rebbe said because a person fails to fulfill his vow his children will die.

The difference between Neder and Shvua is found in Nedarim (2b) the Gemara there explains in Neder the person makes the object forbidden to him, but regarding Shvua the person made himself forbidden to the object, for example, if a person takes Neder and said “this food is forbidden for me”, the object/food itself is forbidden for that person, but if he makes Shvua and said “I will not eat this food”, the object has nothing to do but the person made himself forbidden to the food.

About Rakhel Imeinu we found that she died because Yaakov Avinu delayed fulfilling his promise as it is written “Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear. And if I return in peace to my father's house, and the Lord will be my God; Then this stone, which I have placed as a monument, shall be a house of God, and everything that You give me, I will surely tithe to You” (Bereshit 28:20-22, but it is written that Yaakov fulfills his vow but only delayed 18 months, thus Rakhel died before entering the land of Israel.

I heard a wonderful Torah Insight from Rabbi Khananel Shlita, who heard from his father Rabbi Aryeh Gamliel, of blessed memory. Why according to Nedarim the person made an object forbidden to him? And if the food is Kosher Mahadrin, why forbade! The Ravzt”l explain according to Gemara Berakhot (35a) our sages teach it is forbidden for a person to enjoy in this world without Brakha (blessing)Rabbi Yehudah said in the name of Shmuel, anyone who enjoys this world without a blessing - as if he steals from H-Shem, as it is said: To the Lord the earth and its fullness. Rabbi Levi said: it’s written “to the Lord the earth and its fullness” and on the other hand it’s written, “The heavens are to G-d and the earth He has given to people” there is no difficulty, here before the blessing, here after a blessing. Therefore, before the blessing, everything belongs to G-d, and if he ate without a blessing, it is as if he is eating from Hekdesh, but after one blesses, it is considered his.

And what is written on Shabbat (32b) by the failure of vows, a woman and children of a man died. It is also written in Vayikra Rabbah (Bekhukotai 37:1) that anyone who vows and suspends his vow buries his wife. As it is written "And when I come from Padan, Rachel died," but Yaakov Avinu, as we know, eventually fulfilled his vow. Therefore, Tosfoth on Zevakhim (29b), all this happens when a person pays his vow too late - the sin is his and he alone will be punished for it. But if he completely refrains from fulfilling the vow he endangers his wife by doing so. So according to the Tosfot Rachel is not supposed to die because of the vow delayed by Yaakov. The Torah Temima on Devarim (23) wrote as long as a person delayed his vows it is considered as if he refrain from fulfilling his vows, thus according to Torah Temima Rakhel died because Yaakov Avinu delayed too long to fulfill his vows.

But it is difficult to understand because we do not know the exact number of days which can be considered as delaying a vow too long.

And the Book Ha Manhig Semakhot (p.716), wrote that the sages required a man to delay up to Shalosh Regalim (three pilgrimages) because three pilgrimages are considered to taking a vow for the purpose of not being too late, as we know because of the sin of vows the wife of a man died [Shabbat 32:72].

According to the Book Ha Manhig Semakhot, it seems that if a person delays up to three pilgrimages it is already considered as delaying one vow too much, but regarding the patriarch Yaakov, He delayed his vows eighteen months which is more than three pilgrimages, as Rashi explained in Genesis (33:17). Since Yaakov prolong his vows too much which is more than three pilgrimages, Rakhel Imeinu died. Therefore the first letter of משתדור ולא תשלם is death (מות), the Baal HaTurim also wrote Vows (נדרים) in Gimtariya murderer(רוצח). This means a person who takes a vow is like a murderer.

And Shelah Hakadosh writes in “Toldoth Adam” Beit Ne'eman (129) that the foundation of the light of Brit Milah is that it is the organ that distinguishes a complete uniqueness and adheres a man to his wife. the book “Khomath Anakh” wrote that the one who sins with the covenant of the tongue also sins with the holiness of Brit Milah, thus our sages taught since the Children of Israel guard the covenant of the tongue, they were privileged to guard the covenant of Brit Milah, and the Rabbi there explain in length and later wrote that since the people of Israel had the trait of humility, and they safeguard the covenant of the tongue and the covenant of the Brit Milah, they received tens of thousands of sons and thus they were privileged and they received the Torah. (Khomath Anakh Ch 1). All the virtues of all traits of prayers, commandments, and Torah depend on the Holy Covenant (see Igra DeKala Parashat Noakh, Sefat Emeth Parasha Devarim).

Since the covenant of the tongue depends on circumcision a person who does not fulfill his vow causes death to his wife and sons, and why is it his wife and sons, it seems to me that the covenant of Brit Milah distinguishes a complete uniqueness between a man and his wife and unite the couples uniquely as the “Shelah ha Kadosh” wrote above, according to this it is also understandable why in the case of failure to fulfill one vows children’s died at a young age because failure to fulfill one vow is a defect in the covenant of the tongue, which defects the covenant of the Brit Milah, the organ from which children are produced. Thus accordingly children died with the sin of the vows of their father.

Moreover, since a person takes vows he returns everything to Hekdesh, which is similar to Berakhot, as I have mentioned above in the Torah insight of Rav Aryeh Gamliel, of blessed memory, the children are given to man as a deposit, since a person vows and does not fulfill his vows he is not loyal to his creator, thus G-d took his wife and children’s at a young age because a man wife and children are the closest to a person body through the covenant of Brit Milah which is defile by the covenant of tongue.

And why did G-d take the children at a young age? It seems to me this is also a blessing from G-d since no evil come from G-d but only good, thus when a father makes a vow and does not fulfill the is not trusted by heaven to take care of the children which G-d deposit in his hand, thus G-d took back the children which He deposits at a young age in purity without any sin before they are responsible to get punishment for their sin and before they learned the bad habits from their father.

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