Rashi’s explanations shed light on the complexities of divine judgment, the role of ancestral merit, and the redemptive potential within each individual and lineage. * On the first reading of Parshas Mattos.
RASHI'S INSIGHTS ON DIVINE JUDGMENT
In this week's Torah portion, no provides two insightful explanations for why the Moabites were spared when God commanded the Israelites to take revenge against the Midianites (Numbers 31:1-2).
These explanations shed light on the complexities of divine judgment, the role of ancestral merit, and the redemptive potential within each individual and lineage.
FEAR VS ANGER: MOTIVATIONS BEHIND THE CONFLICT
Rashi's first explanation addresses the motivation behind the Moabites' involvement in the conflict. He explains that the Moabites acted out of fear for their own safety, as they witnessed the might of the Israelites and were afraid of being plundered (Rashi on Numbers 25:17).
This fear-driven response distinguished them from the Midianites who acted out of anger over a dispute that did not concern them.
ANCESTRAL MERIT: RUTH AND NAAMAH
In his second explanation, Rashi introduces a fascinating perspective that adds another layer to our understanding. He invokes the merit of two virtuous descendants who would emerge from the Moabites in the future—Ruth the Moabitess and Naamah the Ammonitess (Rashi on Numbers 25:17).
These individuals would play significant roles in Jewish history, with Ruth eventually becoming the great-grandmother of King David.
THE DIVINE PLAN: REDEMPTION THROUGH RIGHTEOUSNESS
The Gur Aryeh further expands on this concept by highlighting that despite the Moabites' sins and deserving punishment, the divine plan included the emergence of these righteous individuals from their midst. This plan extended beyond their immediate circumstances and carried the potential for immense spiritual growth and redemption.
RUTH AND MOSHIACH: A LINK IN THE CHAIN OF JEWISH HISTORY
Expanding on this, we can draw a profound connection to the future descent of Moshiach. Ruth, a Moabite woman, wholeheartedly embraced the Jewish faith and demonstrated unwavering loyalty to her mother-in-law, Naomi (Ruth 1:16-17).
Through her virtuous character, she became a vital link in the chain of Jewish history, ultimately leading to the birth of King David and the Messianic lineage.
THE TRANSFORMATIVE POWER OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
When viewed in light of Moshiach's descent from Ruth, Rashi's second explanation emphasizes the transformative power of righteousness within an individual's lineage. Ruth's inclusion in the Messianic line highlights the redemptive potential that can emerge from unexpected sources. Her story reminds us that no matter our background or the sins of our ancestors, personal righteousness and devotion to God can elevate us and impact the unfolding of divine plans.
EMBODYING THE VALUES OF DEVOTION AND LOYALTY
In contemplating the sparing of the Moabites, we are reminded of the intricate interplay between fear, ancestral merit, and the potential for spiritual growth within each individual and nation. The Moabites serve as a testament to the transformative power of righteous individuals within their lineage and their impact on future generations.
May we be inspired to cultivate righteousness within ourselves and recognize the potential for greatness within our own families and communities. By embodying the values of devotion, loyalty, and righteousness exemplified by Ruth, we contribute to the ongoing journey towards redemption and the ultimate arrival of Moshiach.