Vol 33.28 - Bein HaMetzarim - Matot       Spanish French Audio  Video

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Haftorah     Haftorah - Rashi

(5747)  Haftorah Matot: "I see a rod of an almond-tree." The almond fruits in twenty one days like the number
of days between the seventeenth of Tammuz ... and the Ninth of Av ( Jer 1:11-12 , Rashi) -

The connection between Bein HaMetzarim specifically to the "rod of an almond-tree" and the hints to the Bein HaMetzarim in the details of Parshat Matot for I watch over My word to perform it.'



1. Chazal state that the time of the Bein HaMetzarim is alluded to in the prophecy of Yirmiyahu where it states: (concerning the destruction of the first Beis HaMikdash and the Babylonian exile): “I see a an almond rod” (מקל שקד אני רואה) - This Almond.. from the time of its flowering until its ripened fruit is twenty-one days like the number of days between the Seventeenth of Tamuz when the city was breeched until the Ninth of Av when the Temple was burnt.

In simplicity, it appears that the reason that the duration of the fruition of the Almond is a hint to the time of the Bein HaMetzarim is because their numbers are equal (twenty-one). But according to the knowledge that all aspects of Torah are the epitome of exactness, it is logical to say that there is an inner connection between them.

This can be explained according to the words of the Mishneh that there are two kinds of Almonds – Bitter Almonds and Sweet Almonds. The Bitter Almonds are sweet when immature and become bitter when matured. And the Sweet Almonds are the opposite, when immature they are bitter and afterwards at the completion of their maturity they become sweet.

And it is explained in Tzafnas Paneach (of the Rogatchover) that the name “Almonds -Shakad” refers to the “mature sweet ones” (for those that are sweet when immature are called “Luzim”).

Thus the concept of the “Almonds” (and the effect of its twenty-one days of growth) is – to overturn bitterness to sweetness.

One could say that because of this reason, the days of the Bein HaMetzarim are alluded to an “Almond rod” (Makel Shaked), because the essence of the Avodah of these days is not just to nullify the negative aspect within these days (The “bitterness”), but moreover (and according to the words of Rambam regarding the days of the fasts in the future) - to overturn them to "Yomim Tovim" and days of joy and happiness. For instead of "their bitterness" the days will be overturned to "sweet" and happy (days).

[According to this, the prophecy in Yirmiyahu that: "And it shall be, as I have watched over them to uproot etc. so will I watch over them to build etc." (והי׳ כאשר שקדתי עליהם לנתוש גו׳ כן אשקוד עליהם לבנות גו׳) is fitting - for the aspect of "watching" (Shakadti – which has the same root as almond/shaked) is itself is completely overturned. For instead of watching for the opposite of good (as in the beginning of Yirmiyahu), the watching is transformed for good]

2. According to this one can explain another particular in this prophecy:

The allusion to the days of the Bein HaMetzarim in the "rod of the almond tree" is from the property of hastening (shkedah) in the growth of the fruit.

But, if so, this requires additional explanation:

Why is the prophecy in the "Almond rod" (For he saw "a rod from the tree that almonds grow on", i.e. the rod itself, "without leaves and without fruit".

Why wasn't he shown a branch that had Almonds on it etc.?

At first glance, one could say that another aspect is alluded in this:

Rod ("Makal") depicts striking (Hakaah) - punishments and misfortune that G-d brings upon the Jewish People in these days.

But, this explanation is seemingly not sufficient.

Because the main prophecy here is on the aspect of "hastening" ("for I hasten My word to accomplish it"). So much so, that in this verse there is no explicit mention of calamity. Therefore it would have been better to allude to the aspect of hastening in a clear and revealed manner (through seeing the fruit (or at least the flower) of the Almonds) and not to conceal this allusion by seeing just an "Almond rod" (So much so that Yirmiyahu needed to contemplate the rod until "he recognized that that it was from an Almond tree").

According to that which was explained previously in the essence of the aspect of the "Almond", one could say that that the reason he specifically saw a "rod" was because the allusion about the Almonds (the overturning of bitter to sweet) is connected to a "rod".

 3. The explanation of the aspect is:

It is explained in many places that (concerning the two names that Yisroel are referred by - "Shevatim" and "Matos" (tribes etc.)) - that the difference simply between a "shevet" and a "Mateh" is that

·         a "Shevet" (shoot) is a soft branch that still has moisture within it from its (prior) connection to the tree (and certainly if it is still connected to the tree).

·         Whereas a "Mateh" (staff) has already been dry (after it has been cut from the tree) of the moisture of its connection -

 However, specifically because of this the branch becomes hard and strong - a staff

In the levels of Avodah of a person:

"Shevet" alludes to the Bnei Yisroel when they are in a state of "connection to their source". In general, this is in the time when the Beis HaMikdash is standing in its place and Bnei Yisroel are secure in their land and "we are able to go up and see and bow down before You" - Then the connection among Yisroel to their source ("The Supernal tree") is felt.

 Whereas "Mateh" refers to the state of Bnei Yisroel in Galut, where the connection to their source is not recognized in a revealed manner for "We do not see Your signs" (for there is no perceiving of G-dliness etc. - "riat Elokut"). So much so that there are concealments and cloakings to one's service to G-d and obstacles and hindrances.

 But specifically through this Avodah is the strength of a Jewish person revealed.

For he overcomes all the obstacles and hindrances and fights with the opposers and defeats them, until he reaches the completeness of Avodah, where he overturns the "bitterness" of Galut to the "sweetness" of Geulah.

 According to this, one could say that the hint of the "rod" in the prophecy of Yirmiyahu is about the "steadfastness" (tokef) of the rod (like the "Mateh" - staff) - for in order to overturn bittern to sweet (which is the property of Almonds, as above) one requires the strength of the "rod" (as above)

 [And one could say that the aspect of strength which is alluded to in the "rod" is also connected to the aspect of "hastening" of the Almonds - that it "hastens” to produce flowers before all the trees" (and this is the simple explanation in the prophecy of Yirmiyahu, that "an Almond rod" is a hint that G-d "hastens My word to accomplish it").

The explanation of the Alter Rebbe on the verse “And produced almonds" regarding the staff of Aaron, is known – namely, that the Priestly Blessings of the kohanim effect an effluence of Chesed (kindness) down (to this world) in a manner of "quickness" (Mahirut).

For there is an effluence of Chesed that "holds back" and waits until it resumes and comes down. This is because every descent from one chamber to the next is through a judgment that determines if the effluence is fit to be drawn down, and they examine its case etc."

However, when the Chesed is drawn down through Aaron (and his descendants after him) in the Priestly Blessing, "Then the effluence is drawn down quickly through all the (supernal) worlds without hindrance or opposition".

And this is like the analogy of a very great "river", where the flow of its water is "with great force”.. and where it is not withheld by any hindrance or opposition .. but, rather, it travels as its norm and pushes away any wood and earth that oppose it". It is understood from this that the "quickness" (“Almonds") - comes from the overpowering strength ("rod") over all hindrances and obstacles].

4. The words of the Shaloh are known, that the three Parshiot: Matot, Masei and Devarim "always" occur within the Bein HaMetzarim because it is a timely thing" (and he explains many particulars in the connection of the subject matter of these three Parshiot to the days of the Bein HaMetzarim).

Accordingly, there is a revealed hint to the aspect of the Bein HaMetzarim in the name of the first Parsha (of these three Parshiot) - which, according to Jewish custom (Minhag Yisroel - which is likened to Torah itself) - is called "Matot" (similar to the "Almond rod").

 And one could say that the subject, as above, of the "Almond rod" and the "Mateh (staff) - namely the power and strength to overturn a negative situation into good - is alluded to in the particulars of this Parsha, which has three aspects:

1)         The section of Vows

2)         The war against Midian

3)         The story of the descendants of Reuben and Gad

The section of Vows:

 There is a well-known explanation of the saying of the sages concerning vows -  

For (the statements) appear to be contradictory:

· In one place it states that vows are a safeguard for abstinence ("Nedarim siyag la'prishus").

· Yet in (another place, in) the Talmud Yerushalmi it states: "Is it not sufficient to you that which the Torah forbade?" -

that it is speaking about two different levels in Avodat HaAdam:

In the beginning of one's Avodah, one must be especially vigilant not to let the aspects of the world drag the person into the depths of physicality and coarseness. Therefore there must be abstinence from the aspects of the world and "vows are a safeguard for abstinence".

But, after one ascends in his Avodah, and is enlightened with holy light until he is able to refine and purify the physicality of the world and to raise it to holiness, then, on the contrary, he must occupy himself with refining and purifying the world.

And from this it is understood that the section of Vows is primarily directed to the person who is at the beginning and middle of his Avodah where it is necessary to abstain from the world.

But the main purpose of the thing is - the annulment (hafarat) of the vow (through the father or the husband).

For the father, husband and sage have the power to effect, that even a person such as this one - who because of his station and situation - requires vows ( to separate him from the aspects of the world) to enable him to elevate aspects of this world to holiness (They nullify the vow and overturn the prohibition to permissibility).

And this is the connection between the section of vows to "Matot". For the purpose of vows, their annulment is through the action and effect of the strength ("Mateh") to "quickly" overturn the darkness of the world to the light of holiness.

The Midianite war:

The main lengthiness of our Parsha does not concern the actual war and victory of Bnei Yisroel, but rather with the spoils and plunder of Midian, the purification and koshering of the Midianite vessels, and also the division of the spoils and the tax donations to G-d from them.

This is because the main purpose of the completeness ( of the Avodah) of the Midianite war was not just the nullification (of the Klippah) of Midian, but the overturning from bitter to sweet, to purify and elevate the spoils of Midian to holiness, until a portion of it was elevated to be a "donation to G-d" ("Terumat HaShem”).

 The descendants of Reuben and Gad:

The concern of Moshe was that - "Shall your brethren go to war while you stay here?” In other words, they did not want to fight with Canaan. And the same is also spiritually. The reason that the descendants of Reuben and Gad wanted to remain across the Jordan - "a land for livestock" is because they chose to be shepherds, an occupation that allowed them to reside in solitude (in the field, far from the worries and tumult of the city), so that they would be able to constantly cleave to G-d etc. And this is the complaint of Moshe Rabbeinu is his reply to them: "Shall your brethren go to war etc.” In other words, the main Avodah is that man should battle the coarseness of the world, in order to refine and purify it etc.

Therefore he stipulated with them that: “if you do this thing, if you arm yourselves for battle before the L-rd. (until "the Land will be conquered before the L-rd").

And this is also the theme of the conclusion of the Parsha - the story concerning the building of the cities of Sichon and Og through the descendants of Reuben and Gad in a manner of "their names having been changed" - since these cities were associated with idol worship, "And the descendants of Reuben changed their names to other names (Rashi)"- the overturning of darkness to light and bitterness to sweet

And therefore we read this Parsha in the Bein HaMetzarim - to teach that the purpose of the aspect of these days is to overturn from bitterness to sweet, that they should be overturned to "Yamim Tovim and days of joy and happiness", with the future Geulah, speedily in our times, mamosh.

mSichas Shabbat Parshat Matot-Masei 5735


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