• Maverick (Avigdor) Peters

Parshas Mattos 2011

The Torah tells us in this week’s Parsha that Pinchas lead the war against Midyan. The Ramban explains, this is because since Pinchas started this whole thing with killing Zimri and Kozbi (last week) he should have the honors to finish the job.

In this week’s Parsha the B’nai Yisroel are faced with a dilemma. After defeating the Midyanim in the previous battle the B’nai Yisroel took the spoils and riches. Moshe informed them that they were not permitted to cook in those pots and pans they took until they Kasher (make kosher) them. To do this they would take those cooking utensils and immerse them in a Mikveh. This was necessary because the Midyanim cooked non-kosher foods in those pots consequently making them unfit for the Jewish people to cook and eat out of them.

Nowadays, we also required to Toivel (dip) our new dishes. What we do is go to the public dish mikveh and immerse our new dishes seven times while reciting a B’racha (blessing).

A mikveh is an area with a certain amount of rain water. There are not only Mikvaos (plural for mikveh) for dishes to be purified but also for people to be purified.

We also learn the Halachos (laws) for making a Shavuah an oath or Neder, a vow. If one makes an oath for example he says, “I will not text while I drive for a whole year or I will give two hundred dollars to Tzedaka.” These vows have very serious significance and when making a promise like this his words become Halacha (“law”) for him which he must follow. If, for some reason he is unable to uphold his oath he must go to either three Jewish men and go through a legal a process of nullifying the oath with them or he can go to a Talmud Chochum (Torah Scholar) to try to nullify his oath. I cannot overstate the seriousness of a Jew taking an oath!

This seems to be a departure from our traditional saying that “actions speak louder than words.” To avoid this hazard the great Rabbunim (Rabbis) told us to do our best to stay away from making a promise. We are far better suited to have in mind to keep the promise and to go ahead and avoid texting while driving for the year but at all costs, avoid making the oath. This is why when a frum Jew agrees to take on a responsibility you will usually hear him say “Bli Neder” (B’LEE NAY-DER), without a vow.

May we all grow in our understanding of how to properly fulfill these and all the other Mitzvahs (commandments) that Hashem gave us and in doing so strengthen our relationship with the Creator of the World so that we bring the Meshach (Messiah) speedily in our days! -Amen!


Stay tuned for next week’s Parsha called, Parshas Masei!

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