|The Profundities of Torah-Matot-Well Done|
|Écrit par HaRav Yochanan Zweig|
“Take vengeance for the children of Israel against the Midyanites...” (31:2) Since Midyan was responsible for Bnei Yisroel’s sins of immorality and idolatry which resulted in the deaths of twenty-four thousand Jewish men, Hashem instructed Moshe to lead the Jewish army into war against the Midyanites.1
The Midrash asks why Moshe delegated this responsibility to Pinchas if Hashem instructed him to lead the army. The Midrash explains that the Torah is teaching us a fundamental principle: “Bor sheshasisa bo al tizrok bo even” - “Into a well from which you have drunk do not cast a stone.”2 Moshe had sought refuge in Midyan when fleeing from Pharaoh for having killed an Egyptian taskmaster. Having benefited from Midyanite hospitality, it would have been inappropriate for Moshe to lead the effort to annihilate them.
In Parshas Va’eira, Hashem commanded Moshe to defer to Aharon the task of implementing the first plague, transforming the water of the Nile River into blood.3 Citing the Midrash, Rashi explains that since the Nile had protected Moshe when he was an infant, it would have been a display of ingratitude to act as the conduit through which the river was smitten.4 This would appear to be an example of “into a well from which you have drunk do not cast a stone”. Why does the Torah repeat this principle in Parshas Mattos if it was already relayed in Parshas Va’eira? Why did Hashem instruct Moshe in Parshas Va’eira to display this sensitivity, while, were it not for Moshe’s own initiative, this sensitivity would not have been displayed in Parshas Mattos?
The reason that Hashem gave to Moshe for attacking Midyan was “ki tzor’rim heym lachem” - “for they are your antagonists”.5 The Midrash is sensitive to the usage of the verb “tzor’rim” which is present tense and implies an ongoing state of affairs. If the attack against Midyan was as a result of their role in Ba’al Pe’or, it would have been a solely punitive strike and the verse should have stated “for they were your antagonists”, using the past tense.6 Therefore, concludes the Midrash, the attack against Midyan was a pre-emptive strike, to ensure that they would not endanger Bnei Yisroel in the same manner at a future date.7
Hashem’s instruction to bring the plagues upon the Egyptian people was purely punitive in nature; Bnei Yisroel were no longer in danger. Under these circumstances, Hashem instructed Moshe to defer to Aharon the task of implementing the first plague as a sign of gratitude for having benefited from the river that was to be smitten. The attack against Midyan was a pre-emptive strike to ensure Bnei Yisroel’s safety. Under such conditions Moshe was not expected to display sensitivity toward the aggressor. Nevertheless, as a “midas chasidus” - “act of piety”, Moshe abstained from acting as the conduit through which a nation unto whom he was indebted would fall.
1.25:9,39:2 2.Bamidbar Rabbah 22:4 3.Shmos 7:19 4.Rashi ibid 5.25:17 6.Bamidbar Rabbah21:5 See Tiferes Tzion 7.Ibid
The month of Av has historically been a time of tragedy and misfortune for the Jewish people. It is therefore customary not to schedule law suits with non-Jews during this month. If it is impossible to avoid, one should attempt to postpone the case until at least after Tisha B’Av.