The taste of Shabbat – Matot-Masai 5777
Rav Mordechai Elon
Our parsha begins with the laws of vows and then tells us about the fulfilment of the commandment we were given two weeks ago “to take revenge of the Midianites”. Our first question will be why are these laws here, in the middle of the war against Midian?
Furthermore, When a person makes a vow, he is forbidding for himself something that the Torah allows for his own personal reasons. If the person who made the vow turns to a “Chacham” and asks to be released from the vow, the Chacham can release him. The Torah differentiates between a chacham who releases a vow, and a father who can annul his daughter’s vow.
We must ask how can a chacham allow something that has been forbidden. If a person’s words have meaning and influence, how can someone external cancel and allow a prohibition he has taken upon himself?
The answer to these questions is connected to an apparent contradiction in the words of our rabbis. On one side they praise vow making and tell us נדרים סייג לפרישות" vows are a fence helping self control" . In other words, they are a positive step. On the other hand, they express anger over vow makers
“Is it not enough that the Torah has forbidden things, that you wish to add more?”