MidrESHET Hayil

Friday, July 22, 2011

Parashat Matot

Parashat Matot

Please learn in zekhut of the Refua Shelema of Sara Bat Morvarid, Yehezkel Ben Morvarid, Shahin Shmuel Chai Ben Hadassah and Mordehai Ben Iran. Also for the iluy Neshama of Yehuda Ben Ita Ester and Yaakov Ben Mazaltov. Thank you! Tizku lemissvot rabot!
Parashat Matot recounts the war that Benei Yisrael waged against Midian, resisting the efforts of both Moab and Midian to tempt the men of Benei Yisrael into illicit relationships with their women in the hopes that they would come to worship their diety, baal peor. It is understandable why HaKadosh Barukh Hu would want his children to fight against Midian, but why wasn’t Moab also included? Why did HaShem instruct us only to fight the Midianim if the Moabite women were protagonists in the story of Benei Yisrael’s demise?
One reason is that HaShem Yitbarakh prohibits war against Moab because they descend from Lot and are brothers of Benei Yisrael. Rav Zvi Leshem says in the name of Mai HaShiloach that Midian represents dimyon, imagination or illusion. Sometimes, imagination can be a good thing; it is the faculty by which we can transcend reality and enter higher spiritual realms, at times leading to prophecy. Our power to imagine can also bring us closer to HaKadosh Barukh Hu. So why would Midian have any correlation to such a positive feature of the world we live in? Why should the concept of dimyon be looked down upon?
Chazal teach us that, “No one ever sins unless a foolish spirit, ruach shtut, enters him.” What is this foolish spirit? HaKadosh Barukh Hu created this world in order to have a dwelling place in the lower realm, interacting with his creations. He instilled inside each of us the free will to serve Him. We have the choice in how to approach our relationship with our Creator; however, we must ensure that we are not misguided by illusions. In the Kabbalah our world is called alma d’shikra, the world of illusions. Sometimes, we may feel the illusion is that has vehelilah, HsShem may not really present in our lives, that He may be distant from us or inexistent. This is the spirit of foolishness that brings us to sin. This is the very spirit of illusion that brought Benei Yisrael to sin with the Midianim and the children of Moab.
The yesser hara, evil inclination, uses this very mentality in order to cause us to sin. Rebbe Nachman even called the yesser hara the koah hamidameh, the power of illusion. The yesser hara employs the power of our imagination to make us believe that we are actually doing the right thing while we are in fact blindly and sadly committing a grave sin.  Rav Tzaddok writes that we are sometimes convinced that a sin is actually a missva. The Rebbe Rashab teaches in Kuntress U’Maayan that we are often deluded into thinking that even if we transgress a little it won’t really impact upon our relationship with HaShem. We must keep ourselves in check from falling into such a snare. Do not become your own worst enemy.
The antidote to falling to our self-created illusions is to realize in front of whom whe are standing; shiviti HaShem lenegdi tamid, ‘to place God in the forefront of our consciousness’ as Rav Leshem says. When we really internalize the constant presence of HaKadosh Barukh Hu in our lives and grasp a firm reality of it instead of being trapped in our intangible thoughts and imaginations, we can finally become liberated from the shackles of our own minds and from the force of dimyon that can bring us to sin.
I pray that HaKadosh Barukh Hu endows each of us the koah to overcome our greatest adversary, not Midian, but our own minds and to connect to Him with our most powerful faculty; our own minds. May we have the clarity to recognize sin and immorality when we face it and to indulge ourselves only with the good that HaShem, in His infinite mercy has put into this world.
Wishing everybody a Shabbat Shalom u’Mevorakh!!
Ariella Samimi

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