Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Parshas Matos

Stuck with a Stick

By Rabbi Label Lam

Moshe spoke to the heads of the tribes (MATOS) of the children of Israel, saying: This is the thing (Davar) HASHEM has commanded. If a man makes a vow to HASHEM or makes an oath to prohibit himself, he shall not degrade his speech (D’varo); according to whatever came out of his mouth, he shall do. (Bamidbar 30:2-3)

Here we have a chapter in the holy Torah named “sticks”. That’s what MATOS means. It is the term that describes the branches/ the tribes as various parts emanating from a common, singular trunk, root system, and seed. I am struck and stuck with this word “stick”. What’s in a word?

When Moshe introduces the laws surrounding the making of vows, an unusual introduction is employed: “This is the thing-matter-Davar”. “This” implies something that can be seen of pointed to concretely. Just as when the then entire nation when through the split sea, there was a collective declaration, “This is my G-d…” Rashi is compelled to tell us that everyone, even the least likely candidates, shared a unique vision of the loftiest of spiritual dimensions. When the laws of declaring a new moon was given to Moshe he is told, “This month is for you…” Rashi is again forced to explain that Moshe was shown a sliver of a new moon as a visual aid. What is the meaning of “this” in “this is the D’var HASHEM”? Where is the concrete object being referred to?

This is all an introduction to the power of vows. Moshe delivers the commandment, “he shall not violate (make profane) his word- “D’varo”. “Davar” means a thing- a matter, and “D’var” means speech?

What is the common denominator between speech and thing? The Talmud tells us, “The kingship of the earth is like the kingship of the heavenly domain.” That means that there is a correspondence, a metaphorical parallelism between the physical and the spiritual realm.

Therefore it is not just a flight of fancy or a cute metaphor if we observe that just as there is in the physical universe three states of matter, so it is in the spiritual world. Everything is either in a state of being solid, liquid, or gas. Water can be frozen solid like a rock, or can be fluid and flowing like a river, or it can be floated away in an invisible cloud of vapor. Everything we do as humans is either in the form of thought, speech, or action. Thought is more hidden like water in a gaseous form. Speech is a more concretized form of the same substance. Action is real-solid and tangible.

What we learn here is that speech, the things we say, what flows o’ so easily from our mouths is not only one step closer to hard reality. It is a force of physical reality already. It is not only potential or almost something. It is closer to the solid side of the equation than it is to the airy and abstract. Water is heavy. Water is powerful. It can be a life giving force and it can be a devastating force.

So it is that speech can be a life giving force, and it can be a devastating force. That is the introduction to exercising extreme care in the declaration of vows. What we say is powerful. Once it passes the discrete filters of the mind and it exits the mouth, it becomes a force in our lives to reckon with.

Alternately, everything in this world is a result of the speech of HASHEM. The universe is created and made concrete by the speech of The Almighty. The world itself and everything in it is speaking. Every Davar is an expression of HASHEM, an actual D’var.

Matos- sticks are also articulate. When the juices of life, the waters absorbed by the roots, flow successfully up through the xylem and the phylum, defying gravity and navigating the veins of the tree, then miraculously we have beautiful flowers and delicious fruits. When speech is degraded we are stuck with a stick.


DvarTorah, Copyright © 2007 by Rabbi Label Lam and Torah.org.


 

ARTICLES ON TERUMAH:

View Complete List

Broken Measurements
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5758

From Without to Within
Rabbi Label Lam - 5764

Making This World A Reflection Of The World To Come Part I
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5765

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Give and Take
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5763

In Rich Concentration
Rabbi Label Lam - 5767

Intention Equals Value
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5764

> Always Giving Charity with a Full Heart
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5770

The Only Thing You Can Take With You Is Your Dining Room Table
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5763

What Life is Like in the Holy of Holies
Rabbi Label Lam - 5770

ArtScroll

Holiness: The Golden Calf and the Mishkan
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5775

Build Your Own Coffin
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5758

Rabbeinu Ephraim Expands On The Idea of
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5775

Looking for a Chavrusah?

A Remedy Before Sickness
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5758

A Tabernacle in Your Heart
Shlomo Katz - 5774

Build a "Cottage" for Hashem
Shlomo Katz - 5758

The Ultimate Elevated-Offering
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5767



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information