This D’var Torah should be a Zechus L’Ilui Nishmas my sister, Kayla Rus Bas Bunim Tuvia A”H, my maternal grandfather Dovid Tzvi Ben Yosef Yochanan A”H, my maternal grandfather Dovid Tzvi Ben Yosef Yochanan A”H, my paternal grandfather Moshe Ben Yosef A”H, my uncle Reuven Nachum Ben Moshe & my great aunt Rivkah Sorah Bas Zev Yehuda HaKohein.
It should also be in Zechus L’Refuah Shileimah for:
-My father Bunim Tuvia Ben Channa Freidel
-My grandmothers Channah Freidel Bas Sarah, and Shulamis Bas Etta
-MY BROTHER: MENACHEM MENDEL SHLOMO BEN CHAYA ROCHEL
-Mordechai Shlomo Ben Sarah Tili
-Noam Shmuel Ben Simcha
-Chaya Rochel Ettel Bas Shulamis
-And all of the Cholei Yisrael, especially those suffering from COVID-19 and the Meiron tragedy.
-It should also be a Z’chus for an Aliyah of the holy Neshamos of Dovid Avraham Ben Chiya Kehas—R’ Dovid Winiarz ZT”L, Miriam Liba Bas Aharon—Rebbetzin Weiss A”H, as well as the Neshamos of those whose lives were taken by terrorists (Hashem Yikom Damam), COVID-19, and the Meiron tragedy.
-It should also be a Z’chus for success for Tzaha”l as well as the rest of Am Yisrael, in Eretz Yisrael and in the Galus.
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מַּטּוֹת–מַסְעֵי ● Mattos-Mas’
As far those spoils were concerned, a purging process was in order. Thus, Elazar HaKohein taught the nation the relevant laws for the Halachic sterilization process that these vessels required. However, the fact that it was Elazar who communicated these laws and not Moshe was no coincidence.
An Angry Adversary
Rashi points out [to Bamidbar 31:21 citing Sifrei 157] that originally, Moshe was supposed to have taught these laws, however, out of his anger over the sparing of the Midianite women, he erred and “forgot” the laws, or wasn’t able to successfully teach over any laws because one who falls under the influence of “Ka’as” or anger risks passing faulty judgment.
circumstances escaped him [See Vayikra 10:6]. Similarly, at Mei Merivah, Moshe got angry with the B’nei Yisrael which led to his striking of the rock against G-d’s will, costing him his privilege to enter the Promised Land [Bamidbar 20:10-11].
The montage Rashi displayed of Moshe here has an unflattering theme, namely that of anger. That appears to be Moshe’s “recurring adversary.” However, before we explore this “theme” any further, we have to be weary of mistakenly comparing Moshe’s unique struggle with this “emotion” to that of a common man with a temper or an anger management problem. Though Moshe was human, he was of an incomprehensibly exalted level. Thus, for all we know, these three occasions were the only times Moshe Rabbeinu faltered due to anger. But, that Moshe’s three “only” mess-ups were due to anger speaks volumes. Thus, although we can’t necessarily comprehend Moshe’s class of anger, we can try to take a message and address our own.
The Evil of Anger
Clearly, anger is not a good thing. But, Chazal go so far as to say that one whose anger is on display through various actions is considered like an idolater [Shabbos 105B]! For this reason, anger is one of two Midos which Rambam cautions one to avoid by all means (as opposed to striking a balance on the comfortable “middle” path) [Hilchos Dei’os 2:3].
The problem is that, for us humans, anger appears to be inevitable. It is bad, but what can we do about this most natural feeling? We can’t simply avoid circumstances that make us upset. Problems arise all the time, and by the time we have become “angered,” it is usually already too late to start managing our anger.
Anger Management – A Torah Approach
Perhaps all of the above is true. But, if it is, the answer to our anger problem is staring us in the face. Indeed, when the we are in the circumstance and the anger is staring us in the face, right then and there, it is too late. We will most likely not be able to fight it head-on. Indeed, even if we tried, that would not be “management” of our anger, but it would be desperate damage control. Management needs to be proactive, not reactive. And to manage our anger, although we cannot always avoid problematic situations, we have to develop a game plan and work on ourselves before they arise.
And perhaps, this is why the Gemara considers one who thrashes in anger to be akin to an idolater. Who in fact is the foreign deity of the angry person? It is the anger itself. When the person is overwhelmed with anger, he loses control of himself. He is not subservient to G-d, but to his anger. Indeed, it usually is too late then. His anger is not managed, but it is managing him. And whatever we thought the problem was before, the anger ends up being a problem so much larger and can lead to even more.
What all of the above tells us is that if we cannot avoid the feeling of anger, we can at least manage it before it manages us. That is the secret. That means that we have to stop having unreasonable expectations and being shocked when things don’t go our way. It means that even when we witness such reprehensible behavior that should justifiably upset us as it would G-d, even then, we have to be the managers of our anger. Maybe it means meditating on the concept regularly, studying up on the subject.
But, once we’ve identified anger as the real problem, we can not only learn to manage it, but manage all of life’s other problems. And this is the secret to both the successes and failures in Sefer Bamidbar. Bamidbar is largely a book of many problems, most of which were not the real problem. Whether the B’nei Yisrael were hungry, thirsty, frightened, fatigued, or just fed up with their circumstances, the problem bigger than any of the others which cost so many casualties was anger left unmanaged. And that was the one problem that they could have managed if any.
By the end of Sefer Bamidbar, more “natural” problems would arise when Tzelaphchad’s daughters feared that their father’s legacy would be cut short, when Reuvein and Gad feared that they wouldn’t have land for their livestock, and when the B’nei Menasheh feared that their tribe would lose land. But, none of these individuals let anger overtake them. They managed their emotions and spoke respectfully to Moshe Rabbeinu. No one got angry. Moshe Rabbeinu did not get angry. And every single one of them was given what they had asked for.
In the end, it is obviously easier said than done. But, now that we understand how this particular adversary works, we can begin to think about our own management plan. And as long as we’re thinking ahead, we will manage this Midah and not the other way around.
We should be Zocheh to manage all of our Midos and Hashem should reward our efforts with both the success in this endeavor and better circumstances where we won’t have to struggle as much with these traits, with coming of the Geulah, in the times of Moshiach, Bimheirah BiYomeinu! Have a Great Shabbos Rosh Chodesh Menacheim Av!