Matos and Massei – Simply for the Love of Hashem

This dvar Torah is translated and expanded upon from the Chiddushei HaLev, shmuzzin given by Rav Henach Leibowitz zt”l who was Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim.
This week is a double parsha, Matos and Massei. This week also concludes Sefer Bamidbar (the Book of Numbers ). The Haftorah is a special one for the 3 weeks leading up to Tisha B’Av, taken from Yirmiyahu (Jeremiah 2:5-8):
“This is what the LORD says: ‘What fault did your fathers find in me, that they strayed so far from me? They followed worthless idols and became worthless themselves.  They did not ask,`Where is the LORD, who brought us up out of Egypt and led us through the barren wilderness, through a land of deserts and rifts, a land of drought and darkness, a land where no one travels and no one lives?’ I brought you into a fertile land to eat its fruit and rich produce. But you came and defiled my land and made my inheritance detestable. The priests did not ask, `Where is the LORD?’ Those who deal with the law did not know me; the leaders rebelled against me. The prophets prophesied by Baal, following worthless idols.”

The Radak explains that when posuk vav (verse 6) of Yermiyahu (Jeremiah) says: “They did not ask, ‘where is the Lord,’” they did not think to acknowledge and say to themselves ‘how can we serve other gods and where is the Lord who elevated us?’ Meaning: ‘How did we throw Him, secondary after our bodies and not turn towards him?’

The Radak further explains that in posuk ches (verse 8) the phrase: “The priests did not ask ‘where is Hashem?’” This meant that the kohanim who were before Hashem the entire day and brought offerings before Him should have said to the nation who was worshipping the idol Baal: ‘Where is Hashem that you worship others instead of Him?’”

It would seem from the words of the Radak that if the kohanim would have said to the nation “where is Hashem who took you out of Egypt,” the nation would have stopped worshiping idols.

There is, though, a tremendous question on this. Isn’t it known that in the time of Yermiyahu the Evil Inclination for idols was very strong? Why would anyone think that simply hearing words like these from the mouthes of the kohanim would work to prevent them from worshipping idols?

Rather, we must say that we see from here how implicitly powerful words of love for Hashem are. Even from the strong evil inclination of idol worship it was  possible to be victorious, with mere simple words which served to emphasize the great love Hashem has for the Jewish people, and how good it is when we are in love with Him. This realization is able to inspire a person to be successful over all hardship, to overcome the evil inclination, and to return to the Holy One Blessed Be He.

May we all focus on the abundance of love Hashem has for us and the love we can have for Hashem. In this way we will all merit to be redeemed speedily in our days and to observe Tisha b’Av as a holiday instead of a fast.

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