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Parshas Mattos 5774
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July 18, 2014
Volume 10 Issue 35
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Dvar Torah



By Rabbi Yosef Prupas 



            When explaining the virtues of our religion to the distant members of our extended Jewish family, one area that makes us uneasy is found in this week's parsha. Moshe is commanded to revenge the spiritual and physical destruction wrought by the Midyanim. This is difficult to understand since the Torah explicitly forbids revenge. Why were the Jewish People being commanded to go against something what they were taught was considered evil? We are taught by our sages that anything troubling on the surface hints to something much deeper underneath. That applies here too.


            There are two main questions that point us in the right direction. First, why was Moshe's death intertwined with the battle against Midyan? Second, why specifically in this war were only the righteous qualified to join the army?


            The Nesivos Shalom answers that the war against the Midyanim was a battle for the very existence of the Jewish People. Bilam and Balak were the greatest of all time in their ability to represent and utilize the forces of evil in this world. Their intention was to sever the connection between the Jewish nation and their Father in heaven. To initiate that process they sent their daughters, from the lowest in stature to the greatest of princesses, to entice the Jewish people to sin. They knew that the G-d of the Jewish people detests immorality, and therefore with great self sacrifice they turned their daughters into tools of depravation to bring the Jewish nation down.


            To fight such an adversary required an army unlike any before. Pinchas, who epitomized self sacrifice for Judaism, fought with soldiers unparalleled in their religious devotion. This was an army that could remove such a foe from the world. Moshe too was needed to counteract the negative spiritual abilities of Bilam. Only a person with his stature could rid the world of a people led by Bilam and Balak. This was not revenge as we know it. This was removal of the forces of evil.


            We find proof from a medrash quoted by Rashi. The medrash tells us that one of the reasons for the selection of Pinchas as the leader for this army was that he should take revenge for Yosef, the father of his mother. One of the groups involved in the sale of Yosef were the Midyanim. The Maharal explains that surely the medrash does not mean revenge in its literal sense, for what does Pinchas have to do with an incident that occurred long before? Rather, the fact that Yosef, who epitomized self control in the area of immorality, was put in the hands of the Midyanim, demonstrated that decadence lay at the core of that nation. This observation clarified the necessity to eradicate such a people. Pinchas recognized the evil and the need to remove it from ever harming the Jewish people again, as commanded by G-d. Like any other emotion attributed to G-d, vengefulness is not to be understood as literal, rather it elucidates the proper reaction to evil.  May G-d assist our people in overcoming the truly evil in our midst and may He remove the need for vengeance now and forever.






Dvar Halacha
 Halachos of the Nine Days      Part 1


By Rabbi Yochanan Eskenazi


As we get closer to Tisha B'Av, Chazal instituted additional activities in order to help us feel the aveilus (mourning) and destruction of the Bais Hamikdash. These additional restrictions begin at shkiyah (sunset) of Rosh Chodesh Av [This year Sunday, Au 27th, 8:19 PM in Bala Cynwyd] and continue until chatzos (halachic midday) of the 10th of Av [August 6th, 1:07 PM]. This period is commonly known as "The Nine Days." All the restrictions of "the Three Weeks" are still in place.

One should not buy any type of new clothing (Rama 551:7) even if he does not plan to wear them until after Tisha B'Av (Mishneh Berurah 551:49). However, there are certain instances where one is permitted to purchase new clothing. This includes: purchasing for a newborn that has no other clothing; a sale item that will not be available after Tisha B'Av; someone travelling who is able to buy a specific item only in that place (Laws of Daily Living, The Three Weeks, pg. 67). Similarly, someone who forgot to buy non-leather shoes [for Tisha B'av] may purchase a pair (Igros Moshe OC 3:80).

Non-clothing items that are relatively inexpensive [e.g. pots and pans] may be purchased (Laws of Daily Living, The Three Weeks, pg. 69 quoting Harav Y.S. Eliyashuv, zt"l). Additionally, any items of necessity may be purchased (Igros Moshe OC 3:80).

One may not tailor or repair new clothing (Shulchan Aruch 551:7) even if the garment will not be completed until after the Nine Days (Mishneh Berurah 551:49). One may sew a tear, sew on a button and the like (Halichos Shlomo, Moadim 1: pg. 422, 22).

One may not launder clothing even if one will not wear it until after the Nine Days. Additionally, one may not give clothing to a laundering service or dry cleaners (Rama 551:3). According to some Poskim one may give clothing to a non-Jew [e.g. dry cleaners] during the Nine Days if one plans on wearing them only after Tisha B'Av (Mishneh Berurah 551:34). Included in garments are: clothing, towels, sheets, and tablecloths (Shulchan Aruch 551:3). It is permissible to polish scuffed shoes, but one may not shine them (Igros Moshe OC 3:80).

One may remove a stain from a garment even with water. (Laws of Daily Living, The Three Weeks, pg. 77 quoting Harav S.Z. Auerbach, zt"l and Harav Y.S. Eliyashuv, zt"l). Additionally, one may wash clothing for young children who constantly get their clothing dirty. One should not add in extra clothing [e.g. of an adult] while washing the children's clothing (Laws of Daily Living, The Three Weeks, pg. 80 quoting Harav Moshe Feinstein, zt"l). If one does not have any clean clothing, he may wash before the week of Tisha B'Av (Mishneh Berurah 551:29).


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