Friday, July 25, 2008

MATOT: SHALOM BAYIT - PEACE IN THE HOME

by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman


This week's parsha, Mattot, speaks about peace. About peace in the home and peace in the nation.

The parsha opens with an admonition to the tribal heads to tell the people that they must keep their oaths and not break their word. The spoken word is sacred. Immediately thereafter it deals with vows made by a woman, and their possible annulment by her husband and/or father. How do these ideas connect?

The linkage is the concept we call Shalom Bayit- Peace in the Home. Peace on the macro level and peace on the micro level. Peace in the national home and peace in the domestic home. Peace in the individual home between husband and wife, and peace in the House of Israel between the tribes.

This concept of peace and tranquility begins to break down when people don't keep the promises that they made- whether under the huppah of their own wedding or Israel's national huppah at Sinai.

When either spouse puts his or her personal interests above that of the union the harmony and peace within the family begins to unravel. The covenant of the holy bond must be stronger than the private interests of either party. Peace within the nation of Israel similarly begins to break down when various factions- the "tribes of Israel," put their own personal interests above that of the national well-being. Only the vows they make to place the national interests first restores the sense of unity and national Shalom Bayit.

In Numbers 30: 3, in the context of the Laws of Vows, it says: K'CHAWL HAYOTZEI MIPEEV YA'ASEH- "he must do as he says." And then a bit further it uses similar phraseology in the context of the desires of the tribes, Reuben and Gad (and half of Menashe), to settle the TransJordan (East Bank), away from the other tribes who were to be settled in CisJordan (West Bank).

In Numbers 32:24 it says: VEHAYOTZAI MIPEECHEM TA'ASU - "and as you say so shall you do."

Exactly the same language! And for the same concept - Shalom Bayit.

The point the Torah is making is that in all situations we must strive to keep our word if we want Shalom Bayit. It is a great sin not to keep one's word. Nowhere in the Torah does it say that one is bound solely by a written agreement. Unlike in today's society, the bond of obligation is sealed with the word alone.

Peace is the greatest blessing. Shalom Bayit- whether a peace agreement or a marriage vow, domestic bliss or national security, it begins and ends with keeping one's word. Speech is what makes us human. Keeping our word makes us close to Divine.

Shabbat Shalom!


© 1999-2008 by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman

These words of Torah are written in the merit of my beloved father, Israel J. Melman, obm, Yisrael Yehoshua ben Harav Ya'aqov Hakohen ben Meir Yisrael Hakohen Melman, z"l

I was raised in the musar tradition of silence and meditative thoughtfulness, as were my father and grandfather before me.

http://seferchabibi.blogspot.com/2007/07/yahrzeit-of-my-father-27-tammuz.html
http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9506EEDC1630F93BA35754C0A9649C8B63

Chabibi stands for CHidushei Baruch Binyamin ben Yisrael Yehoshua

(a chidush, from the word chadash, means a new, original or fresh perspective)
Dedications are available.

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About Me

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I played violin with Reb Shlomo and studied under him for over nine years at hundreds of concerts and learnings. Shlomo wanted to give me smicha before he passed. Deepest influences: My father,obm, who was a great scientist and human being, and my grandfather, obm, who was a great Torah scholar who was a musmach of the Mir Yeshiva and taught in Slobodka in Russia before WW1, and was also personal friends with the Chafetz Chaim and came to America in 1914. He knew the Talmud by heart! You could stick a pin in a word and he could tell you what word was on the other side! And my mother, Esther bat Baruch, z"l, who was a scholar of classical Hebrew and Tanach and who gave me a love for the language. And her mother, Anna (Sucher) Deutsch, who was born in Horodenka, spoke six languages, and shared her aged wisdom and eternal sweetness with me. I studied at Brandeis, Hebrew College, Pardes as well as seven years at The Metivta/ITJ earning my Advanced Semicha (yoreh yoreh)under Rav Halivni. What's truly amazing is that Shlomo and Rav Halivni each received semicha from Rav Hutner! But my deepest influences of them all are my sweetest sweetest girls who have taught me the most!