Sign up to TorahFax


Thursday, Tammuz 29, 5782 / July 28, 2022


This Shabbat we read from the Torah the final two portions in the book of Numbers (Bamidbar), Matotand Masei. Thus, concluding the fourth book of the Torah, which covers the span of forty years which Jews spent in the Desert.


Parshat Masei begins with Moshe reminding the Jewish people about all their travels during their forty years in the desert. He reminds them the names of each place they camped and what took place there. Also the exact borders of The Promised Land are recorded in Parshat Masei.


Parshat Matot begins with the laws of vows (Nedarim); "Moshe spoke to the heads of the tribesof the children of Israel, saying, ‘This is what the L-rd has commanded; When a man makes a vow to the L-rd or an oath, he shall not break his word; he shall do which came out of his mouth.’"   


This Parsha teaches us the significance and implications of the words we speak. The third commandment of the Ten Commandments is, "Do not utter the name of the L-rd your G-d in vain." It is a prohibition which is associated totally with words we say.


Words and speech are a very powerful tool. G-d tells us in the Torah that the universe was created through G-d’s sayings (words) to teach us the tremendous power words carry.


This is why it is important, when making a commitment. to say the following words, "Bli Neder"; which means, "without a vow."  For, even with the best intentions, one never knows if they will be able to honor their commitment in the future.  Thus, when making a pledge or commitment, whether in business or otherwise, it is always best to say "Bli Neder" - i.e., "without a vow."


We must especially be very careful to avoid using the expression "I swear."  Swearing, even when one thinks they are 100% sure about the accuracy of the matter, is not appropriate. How much more so, when one uses the expression without even thinking whether what they are swearing about, is indeed true.


Q.  The law of keeping a vow applies to all Jews alike. Why does Moshe single out the heads of the tribesto speaks to them about this specific law?


A.   The Chatam Sofer says that it is usually, the “heads of the tribes”; the leaders, the politicians, who seek public office and compete for people’s votes who make so many empty promises. They will promise anything to get elected, but then they completely forget their vows and promises.  Thus, the Torah directs this commandment especially to the heads of the tribes – the leaders of the people.


Today, the 29th day of Tammuz, is the Yartzeit (day of passing) of the greatest of all Torah commentators, Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki – known as Rashi. He lived for 65 years (1040-1105) and accomplished so much during these years. May his memory be a blessing to all.




Please note:  Torah Fax will not be published regularly during July & August