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B"H

Shalom and Bracha!

 

May Hashem change these three weeks of mourning to joyous holidays with the coming of Moshiach!

 

This Shabbat we read the portions of Matot and Masei and conclude the book of Bamidbar. The portion of Matot begins with the war against the nation of Midian. Although Midian was not among the lands that comprised the land of Israel, the nation of Midian schemed to arouse Hashem’s anger against the Jewish people and succeeded in causing a plague. Hashem commanded that each of the tribes send an equal number of soldiers to fight Midian. The war was a miraculous one, and none of the Jewish soldiers were killed.

 

Each portion of the week bears a special connection to the time in which it is read. Matot is always read during the three weeks in which we mourn the destruction of the Temple and intensify our prayers for the Redemption. All of the battles of the Jewish people that are described in the Torah represent spiritual battles which each of us must fight. The word Midian in Hebrew is related to the Hebrew word Madon, which means strife. Midian represents the negative force of strife that is fueled by jealousy. When someone succeeds, we should be happy for them. Ahavat Yisrael demands that we rejoice in our fellow Jew’s success just as we rejoice in our own. Unfortunately, our jealous nature results in just the opposite. The battle against Midian is the battle against strife. Hashem commanded that an equal number of soldiers be sent from each tribe. This is because we must all unite equally to fight divisiveness and attain unity. If one feels I am the one who brings unity, and you do less to bring unity, it only enhances the problem. The destruction of the Temple was because of strife. Therefore, in the three weeks we read about the war against Midian, reminding us to stress unity and Ahavat Yisrael.

 

The second portion that we read is Masei. They word Masei means journeys. Hashem recounts the journeys of the Jewish people from Egypt until the Jordan River, ready to enter the land of Israel. It is interesting to note that the Torah refers to the journeys, not the encampments. The overwhelming majority of the forty years was spent camping, not traveling. Further, almost all of the events that are related in the portion and throughout the Torah occurred when the Jewish people were camping, not traveling. The journeys of the Jewish people in the desert represent all of the steps and travails in our lives. The Torah uses the word journeys to teach that although they were encamped, they were accomplishing, and thus going forward. We must never be stagnant; until we reach the perfection of the world with Moshiach’s coming, we must constantly move forward.

 

One of the Mitzvot in this week’s portion is the cities of refuge. The joy of the Shabbats in the three weeks is a refuge that gives us strength to endure the mourning and change the darkness to light. This year is unique in that we have four Shabbats in the three weeks, granting extra strength. The Shabbat when we conclude a book of Chumash (like this Shabbat) is called Shabbat Chazak, a Shabbat of strength. This is the first Shabbat of Menachem Av. Menachem Av means the comforting of the Father. May Hashem grant that in this month of Menachem Av our Father will comfort us and we will all rejoice in the coming of Moshiach.

 

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Biggs


Dedicated in memory of Ezra Ben Carmella Cornman. May Hashem grant him perfect peace and bliss in Gan Eden and grant comfort and strength to his family and all who knew him and may he intercede before Hashem’s throne to end all pain with the coming of Moshiach


My website
http://www.chabadgn.com/holidays/3weeks/ has a wealth of information on the Three Weeks as well as excellent classes about the Temple


Charity is very important in these three weeks to illicit Hashem’s mercies. The Friendship Circle which benefits special needs children has created a program allowing people to donate daily in any amount (a dollar, fifty cents..) If you would like to assist special children this way, please contact makingeverydaycount@gmail.com

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