Parshat Mattot-Masei: Avenging the blood of Am Yisrael
More secrets of the Torah with Rav Eliezer Berland, shlita.
When Moshe was 120 years of age, Hashem said to him: Moshe! If you want to continue to live, if you want to have a very long life, you can! You can live for many more, long years. But, if you want to do a mitzvah that is even greater than living for many more years, then you should know that there is a mitzvah that is even greater than staying alive.
What could be a greater mitzvah than staying alive? What could be a greater mitzvah than the life of Moshe Rabbenu? What’s more of a mitzvah than this, that Moshe should continue to be with us, and to lead us, and to bring more Torah down for us from shemayim?
What mitzvah is greater than the life of Moshe Rabbenu?
Hashem said to him:
“Take vengeance on behalf of the Children of Israel against the Midianites, and afterwards you’ll be gathered to your people” (Parshat Mattot, 3:1).
If you want to keep living, you can! If you postpone taking vengeance against the Midianites, you can continue. You can postpone it for another 10 years, and then you’ll stay alive for another 10 years! You can push it off for another 100 years, and then you’ll live for another 100 years!
But I’m telling you, I’m hinting to you, Moshe, that there’s a mitzvah that’s even greater than staying alive. And that’s to avenge the blood of Am Yisrael, and to avenge the disgrace of Am Yisrael. Take vengeance against the goyim who are abusing and killing Am Yisrael! This is greater than even your life!
Taking vengeance was the #1 priority for Moshe
Hashem told Moshe, know, there is something that’s even greater than your life. “A God of vengeance is Hashem, a God of vengeance will appear.” Great is the daat that is given between two names (of Hashem). This vengeance was the true daat (spiritual wisdom) of HaKadosh Baruch Hu. This was the true ratzon (will) of Hashem, for Moshe. Hashem hinted to him that taking vengeance against the enemies of Am Yisrael was greater than anything, and to redeem Am Yisrael’s spilled blood.
Moshe said to Him: What?!? Taking vengeance against Midian is worth more than my life?! So Hashem told him: Yes! My true nachat ruach (satisfaction) is for you to avenge Am Yisrael! This will give me more satisfaction than if you stay alive. Moshe understood everything.
He said, what, is it worth me pushing off avenging Am Yisrael just so I’ll stay alive a few more years?! And really, all the spiritual work that Moshe would then have done over the next 100 years, or even the next 200 years, none of it would have lasted for even one second, for as long as Am Yisrael hadn’t been avenged, and he still felt the pain of Am Yisrael.
The daat between two names
The Gemara relates in Tractate Brachot 33: “Great is the daat that is given between two names (of Hashem). How is daat and vengeance related? The Rebbe (Rebbe Nachman) explains in Lesson 20 that Hashem influences daat, and He sends the Torah out into the world, only by way of those souls who suffer the greatest bitterness. Only by way of those souls who are killed al Kiddush Hashem, to sanctify God’s name.
Only in their merit, is the Torah transmitted.
Hashem sends his knowledge and his Torah into the world not by way of the rich people, and not by way of the chachamim (wise ones, Torah scholars), but only by way of those souls who endure the greatest possible grief. And there is no grief greater than being killed al Kiddush Hashem.
Why these souls don’t go to Gan Eden
The Zohar says that when a soul is killed to sanctify God’s name, it should enter straight into Gan Eden! But it doesn’t enter Gan Eden. Instead, it sits on the gates of Gan Eden, it sits at the entrance to Gan Eden, and it says: I’m not going into Gan Eden until Hashem avenges my blood. I’m not going in, until Hashem destroys these murderers, and removes them from the world!
And for as long as these souls aren’t avenged, they don’t enter Gan Eden, and because of this (that they don’t enter), it’s impossible to send shefa (bounty) into the world by way of them, and it’s impossible to send daat into the world.
So, this is how vengeance and daat are connected, that for as long as the souls who were killed al Kiddush Hashem haven’t been avenged, they aren’t prepared to enter Gan Eden. And then, it’s impossible to send daat into the world by way of them. And this is the secret that was revealed to Moshe Rabbenu in the parsha of ‘redeeming the blood’.
And so, Moshe understood that the vengeance of Am Yisrael had to occur, so that these souls would enter Gan Eden, and then it would be possible to send daat and bounty down to the world.
Even the sun doesn’t want to shine
Taking vengeance is the first priority, even if it cuts your life short…It’s written that every morning, the sun cries and shouts, and sings: “A God of vengeance is Hashem, a God of vengeance will appear.” And that every morning, it isn’t prepared to shine again, unless Am Yisrael has been avenged. It doesn’t want to shine!…
The sun wants to stay in the rakia (firmament), it doesn’t want to come down and illuminate the earth at all. The sun and the moon don’t want to descend to the earth until arrows and lightning bolts are shot at them. Every day, they say ‘we aren’t coming out until Am Yisrael is avenged, until all their blood that was split is avenged!’…
Why do the goyim need to laud, and sing praises to Hashem? Because the whole world knows that the Torah of Israel is true! And that the God of Israel is the true God!
When is God going to avenge the Jews?
And when they see that Am Yisrael is suffering, then everyone’s emuna falls. All the goyim experience a drop in their emuna! They say, what?! The Jews are a quiet people, they don’t harm anyone. They don’t do bad to anyone, why are these things happening to them? The whole world is watching and waiting, for Hashem to avenge the blood of the Jewish people.
Oy, there’s still no vengeance! But, they have the true God [behind them]. So, when is He going to avenge them?
But when they hear that He took vengeance, and they see that He avenges the blood of His servants that has been spilt, then they praise Hashem. All the goyim return to their emuna, their faith. Everyone starts to believe that Hashem, He is the one true God.
So God needs to avenge the nation of Israel also for the goyim, so that the goyim will also praise Hashem.
Translated and adapted from the Tzama Nafshi newsletter.