May 19, 2024
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Stop Them, Guide Them And Hope They Listen

Parshat Matot teaches us about the value of parents and friends. The parsha starts with Moshe speaking to the head of the tribes about a law that a person who swears or makes a promise must keep their word. Rashi explains that Moshe honored the tribe leaders by telling them before Bnei Yisrael. I believe that it was not only out of honor that they were taught the law first, but so they can help us make decisions.

Moshe explains that our words matter and when we make a promise, we must keep it, except if a husband or father hears you make the promise and annuls it. Why is that? There is a phrase that many rabbis’ like to quote, כל ישראל ערבים זה לזה— “each Jew is responsible for one another.” While each Jew is responsible for one another, how even more so for a parent, spouse, friend and leader. A parent, friend, spouse and leader is supposed to guide us to do what is right, which we can learn from Hashem, who guides us throughout our lives and gives us the Torah. Our best friend in life—our spouse—is called an עזר כנגדו which is a helper that is against him (the spouse).

Why is that? It is because the job of a true friend and someone who cares about you is not to always agree with them or to make them feel good, but to help them be the best they can be. This parsha is teaching us that we need to tell the people we care about that if they are making a mistake, we must try to help them before they stumble. Pirkei Avot teaches us, “איזה הוא חכם? הלומד מכל אדם—Who is wise? The one who learns from everyone?”

May all of us no longer stand idly and watch people make mistakes that we can stop and may we take the advice of those who are trying to stop us from making mistakes.

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