Shabbat Parashat Matot-Masei| 5763
Matot | | 1/13/2004
Our “double parasha,” Matot-Masei, concludes Bamidbar and brings Israel virtually to the end of its forty-year journey through the wilderness. The content of the narrative is primarily historical but contains some last minute cautionary emphasis. In one of these (Bamidbar 35:33-34), Moshe underscores the prohibition and tragedy of murder.
There are two halachic ramifications of ona’ah. One is the prohibition to overprice or underpay, and the other is the need to return the money or even the object when appropriate. A fascinating gemara (Bava Metzia 61a) equates both ona’ah and taking interest on a loan (ribbit) to theft, although the gemara also points out distinctions between them.
The fundamental assumption of all classical treatments of aggadot Chazal (homiletic sections of the Talmud and Midrashim) is that they deserve and require deep study, just as the halachic sections do. Intensive study is necessary to be able to learn the correct philosophical and ethical lessons and in order to remove the criticism of the light-headed and the non-believers, who dismiss the significance of these sections.
This edition of Hemdat Yamim is
A weekly divrei Torah leaflet: A Glimpse at the Parasha, Ask the Rabbi, From the writings of Harav Avraham Yitzchak Hakohen Kook, zt”l, Pninat Mishpat (Jewish Monetary Law).