שבת פרשת מטות מסעי
Bringing the ג for גאולה into the month of מנחם אב
Shabbos חזק חזק ונתחזק
Tiere Reb Pinchas, Askonim, Family & Friends Sheyichyu
שלום וברכה 😊
ברוך השם We are concluding Chumosh במדבר with the Parshiyois of מטות מסעי and we all shout out חזק חזק ונתחזק - be strong, be strong, and be strengthened - because we take the strength (of Parshas Matois) in all the journeys of our life (Parshas Masai), not only to protect ourselves from negative effects of the trials and tribulations in life, but to actually transform them into journeys, מסעי, towards Eretz Yisroel (Kedusha) through which we grow even closer to השם יתברך than before! The most important thing to do is to stay focused on the essence, and not the way the essence is revealed or expressed.
Coffee without Coffee
A Yid once walked into an upscale coffee shop in Eretz Yisroel and asked for a cup of coffee. “That will be 100 Shekel, sir,” he was told. “What?” exclaimed the baffled customer, “why does it cost so much?! A cup of coffee should cost only 1 Shekel!”
“Certainly,” the employee responded, with a sniff. “One Shekel is for the coffee - the other 99 Shekel is for the service!”
The next day, the Yid was passing by and overheard the employee telling a different customer that the coffee would cost 99 Shekel. Out of curiosity, he poked his head in and asked, “Why the discount today?” The owner explained matter-of-factly: “Today there is no coffee, we only have the service!”
The ridiculousness of the response is obvious: what value is there in service, when you are missing the product itself?!
Our Mitzvois need to be performed with emotion: with joy, awe, and love for השם יתברך. These are the details of service, but the main thing, essence of our connection, is the מצוה itself!
Every מצוה is an opportunity to express the Awe, Love and Joy we feel towards our Father in Heaven, and when we do the Mitzvois with full service they are tremendously enhanced, but the essence of the connection itself is through the act of the Mitzvah itself. We connect with השם יתברך through learning His holy Toiroh and doing His holy Mitzvois.
Two Types of Staffs
Am Yisroel is made up of twelve tribes. There are two words in Loshoin Koidesh to refer to these tribes: שבטים, which we use most commonly, and מטות, as used in this week's Parsha. While we translate both words as “tribes”, there is a nuance to the words in Loshoin Koidesh that reveals a big distinction.
In addition to both words being used to mean “tribe”, they also both have the meaning of “wooden staff,” but each word describes a slightly different staff. A שבט is staff which is still soft and somewhat pliable, while a מטה describes a stick which is already rigid and strong.
Practically, a staff called שבט still has the moisture and nutrients it drew from the tree - it sometimes even refers to the branch as it’s still connected to the tree. The presence of the moisture is what makes the branch fresh and soft. A מטה, on the other hand, is rigid and inflexible because it has long been disconnected from the tree and has lost its freshness and is therefore strong and hard.
The analogy to a staff, both in the state of שבטים or מטות, emphasizes that the Yiddisheh נשמה comes from a root and tree, from G-dliness, but which term is used emphasizes a different state.
The term שבטים describes the Neshomoh in its natural G-dly state: naturally and openly connected to and recognizing that its life is from Hashem Yisboreich. While we aim to achieve a similar state in this world, this is a general reference to the Neshomoh as it exists Above, in a state of constant and unchallenged ביטול (selflessness) and connection to Hashem.
On the other hand, the term מטות describes the Yidden as they experience seeming separation from their source, when their connection with G-dliness is not openly recognizable. This is a general reference to the Neshomoh as it exists here below, paired with an animal soul in a physical body, in an environment that seems separated from the “Tree of Life.”
Once in a state of sublime connection to Hashem, it now finds its connection obscured and suppressed, where the instinctive perspective of life and truth is driven by a physical existence bare of any holiness, mired in a quicksand that keeps pulling it to darkness.
The state of “מטות” seems to be only a descent, a downgrade for the Neshomoh. In fact, the opposite is true!
In the celestial heights the Neshomoh naturally and openly experienced great unchallenged love and awe, a powerful connection to השם יתברך, but it was a limited אהבה ויראה. It was static.
The descent into this world, into a physical body which imposes a state of מטה, sets the stage for something more. Because of the apparent disconnect and the challenges to its connection with Hashem, there is a need to grow and overcome. The Neshomoh now has the potential for growth and mobility, fueled by the challenge to dig deeper into its essence it makes light and connection out of darkness and confusion.
Unlike the easy, natural love and awe it experienced above, in this context, the love and awe of Hashem in this world requires effort - but when the Neshomoh succeeds and fulfills Toirah and Mitzvois with the physical world and through the physical body, it reaches heights (or depths) of connection it was unable to reach before it descended into this physical world. In order to have any connection, it has to find a deeper connection.
This is why our Parsha, Matois, is paired with Parshas Masais, travels.
The Other Side of the Staff
The label of “מטה” isn’t just a reference to the stiffness caused by being (apparently) disconnected from the Source. It also hints to the degree of rigidness and strength the Yid needs (and is given from Above) in order to overcome the challenges, he faces from the physical world and his physical body.
We are at times faced by the challenge of concealment, whether it is the basic confusion brought about by living in a dark world or it is the bitter experience of adversity or calamity. In these moments, when the mind cannot grasp any reason or justification and the heart is numb or overwhelmed by emotions which threaten to overtake him, we need to lean on our מטה in the positive sense.
This is the time when we can't rely on our regular faculties of the Neshomoh, using our intellect and emotion to orient ourselves. We need to go deeper! We need to take strength from the unlimited stubborn essence of our G-dly Neshomoh, which grants us the beneficial expressions of unyielding, inflexible strength.
The solution is embedded in the same word as the problem. When we are in a situation where it seems like we are being cut off or distanced from our powerful and merciful Source R”L, like a מטה is cut off from its root, that is precisely when we need to reach for the unbending strength that comes from a deeper connection to Hashem that comes from our מטה, the core of our Neshomoh. With this strength we will not be fazed by the concealments and darkness that threaten to envelope us and instead overcome and transform them all.
The Journey Needs a Walking Stick
This is why these Parshiyois are combined. The growth and the journey of מסעי is the reward for staying strong in the face of adversity and challenges like a מטה. Outgrowing the initial level, we were on before, and reaching a greater level of G-dliness, is achieved only through overcoming our challenges in this world using the strength we draw from the essence of our Neshomoh! :)
When a Yid is in the world below and does his Avoidoh in Toiroh and Mitzvois with a שטארקייט - strength - and is not fazed by all the concealments and challenges, the reward parallels that. They are granted from Above the great strength of their Neshomoh at its source, which is much greater even than what it experienced before its descent to this world.
Modern Times Are Hard But Rewarding
There is a huge difference between the way a Yid served השם יתברך in the days when theבית המקדש was standing and the days of Exile (very much on our minds during the three weeks) after it was destroyed, may it be rebuilt speedily now.
When the בית המקדש stood, the Yidden saw the ten open Nissim which השם יתברך made there every day. This regular experience of openly seeing and hearing G-dliness meant they were in a state of ביטול and connection with השם יתברך. Clearly, these Yidden could not be described as מטות. Instead, were like the שבט which is connected with its source, the Tree. As a result, they didn't need to find exceptional strength to fulfill their Avoidah in Toirah and Mitzvois, and they didn't need to tap into the essence of their Neshomoh, and it wasn’t revealed to them.
The time of Golus is very different!
G-dliness is not apparent like during the times of the בית המקדש. There are so many concealments, some compounded because we don’t even recognize them as concealments, during the time of Exile. This concealment means we are like מטות - we struggle with a feeling of disconnection from G-dliness and difficulty in learning Toirah and doing Mitzvois. To overcome this, we need to find much greater strength, and reveal a much stronger light from the essence of our Neshomoh: our מטה - the solution embedded in the same word as the problem. With that strength we are also able to transform the darkness itself into light! :)
This greater task we face is also why we receive a greater reward from Above, in the form of a deeper revelation of the essence of our Neshomo, revealing the unbending strength of מטות :) to an even greater degree than was revealed in the time of the בית המקדש, resulting in the reward of מסעי where our Neshomoh travels to new heights it was unable it to reach before!
We need to transform every point of our lives, even those times in life which seem to be the opposite of spiritual growth, into a מסע, a journey, which raises us up higher, infinitely higher than where we were before.
How can we find the strength in every situation? The key is in the essence of our Neshomoh:
When the Yid draws strength comes from his own being, by applying his mind or his heart, he cannot expect identical results in every circumstance. Since a person is limited, there will be situations where he is up to the task, and others where he is not.
However, when he draws his strength by asserting his essence, the essence of his Neshomo, (as Pinchas did when he risked his life to enact Hashem’s will) it’s not dependent on the situation! It’s not limited by his own personal limitations! He is expressing the limitless Koiach from השם יתברך!
In that case the outcome will always be the same: he will stand firm and unbending and persevere! Whether he is in a place called prison or in the grip of some other personal adversity, or just facing the darkness of Golus, he won’t submit to the darkness and will instead transform it to light, bringing our Geuloh Shlaimoh!
יהי רצון מה' יתברך ליתן לכל אחד ואחד הישועה והגאולה הפרטי שצריכים והישועה והגאולה הכללי שאנו צריכים עכשיו עם משיח צדקנו במהרה בימינו!
א גוטן און א פריילעכן שבת ב' מנחם אב = אמונה בטחון :)
משנכנס אב ממעטים בשמחה (על ידי שמחה - הבעש"ט)
פדה בשלום נפשי…..דידן נצח….בשורות טובות :)
עוזי אליך אזמרה :) כי אלקים משגבי :) אלקי חסדי :)
'שלום מרדכי הלוי בן אברהם אהרון שיח' :)