After the dreadful plague that killed 24,000 Israelites was eventually halted by the zealous act of Pinchas, God instructed Moses to tell the nation that they must “attack the Midianites, and defeat them!”
Curiously, despite this clear instruction, we don’t find that Moses told the nation to do anything of the sort. Indeed, it is not until Parshat Mattot that the Israelites are finally told to “avenge the blood of Israel against the Midianites”. At this stage, however, the narrative shifts direction and has God instructing Moses to count the nation — the final count of the Book of Numbers.
Rabbi Dunner shares a piece from the Nesivos Sholom, who has quite a different understanding of this instruction to “attack the Midianites” — an understanding that has profound implications for our spiritual wellbeing as God’s Chosen Nation, for our entry into the Promised Land, and for our understanding of the episode of Balak and Balaam in the previous Torah portion.
Once again, the Nesivos Sholom offers a refreshing and original interpretation that gives us much to think about and reflect on in terms of our own personal faith journey.