Friday July 29, 2022 - Menachem Av 1, 5782
Torah Portion Double - Matos - Masei
Beginning of the Nine Days
The nine days is a serious time for the Jewish people. The nine days refers to the nine days before Tisha B'Av (this year on Sunday August 8), a time when the restrictions of the three weeks become much stricter. It is in fact, a time of mourning and we conduct ourselves as such.
During the nine days we do not eat meat, drink wine (except on Shabbos), wear new clothes for the first time and other restrictions. Many people take these days very seriously. This year Tisha B'Av - the 9th of Av and the saddest day in the Jewish calendar falls out on Shabbos, so the fast is pushed off in its entirety until Sunday. In essence we go from Shabbos right into Tisha B'Av. More on that next week.
The Torah Portion
In this Parsha, in fact in the first aliyah, we read how Moses tells the Jewish people to go to war against the Midianites who wanted to eradicate them. Sound familiar? Clearly we have fought battles forever...sometimes as in this Parsha physical ones and other times cultural ones.
In chassidus we learn that the hostile nations the Jewish people encountered over the millennia represent the unfavourable forces within each of us - the never-ending struggle of dealing with our own less than good qualities, to put it nicely. In other words, nobody is perfect - clearly a revelation to some people:)
It's interesting to note that the word midian relates to the word madon meaning "strife. There are many ways strife manifests itself within each of us: Our jealousy of others, our feeling that someone is just taking up too much air in the room and getting under our skin and, the most serious meaning of inner strife - 'causeless hatred' . It is interesting to note that it was this quality that was one of the main reasons for bringing about the destruction of the Temple.
The individual battle against Midian is the internal struggle against one's own selfishness and rejection of others. Pretty scary.
What is the antidote for all this negativity? It's right in the Torah Portion when G-d tells
Moses that he himself should be involved in the war. What does that have to do with you and me?
Each of us has the quality of "Moses" within us. This inner Moses represents the power of selflessness: the very opposite of the selfishness and navel-gazing which causes us to reject others. Each of us has an inner potential to go beyond what we think are our limits.
Within each of us lies the power to go beyond inner potential. While this task can seem daunting, it is very doable and often found in the small details of life that too each of us seems unimportant, but to someone else means the world.
Don't sell yourself short. The Torah has given us the tools and ability to jump over or push away our negative side and replace it with both a positive attitude and positive actions.
Good luck and good Shabbos:)