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Matot- Hatred Without Any Reason?

In the Matot Torah portion, G‑d commands Moses to go to war against Midian. "And G‑d spoke to Moses, saying, 'Take revenge for the Children of Israel against the Midianites, Moses spoke to the people, saying, that they have to battle against Midian and carry out the revenge of G‑d against Midian. This war had to be done specifically through Moses, and it was necessary for him to do this. Why is the war against Midian connected to Moses? The tribe of Levi was usually exempt from going to war because they were in the service of G‑d but in this war, they took part. Why it was so important?

The word Midian comes from the root madon in Hebrew, which means “conflict”. Midian is the essence of separation hatred and divisiveness. Their hate is for no reason and without any sense. They just can't stand the other, and the other's mere existence is an insult to the existence of Midian.

While the seven nations of Canaan represent the seven negative emotions, Midian is unlike them. The seven negative emotions are conquerable, like someone who has a reason for disliking another. However, with Midian, it's a different story, there is no reason—it is pure hatred. They represent the essence and the core of all evil and hatred. Therefore, only the power of Moses can stand against such evil.

In previous Torah portions, it is said that the Israelites were going through the wilderness, and some of them began to engage in immoral behavior with the Moabite and Midianite women. This act of immorality resulted in many deaths among the Israelites. The deviation from moral behavior led them astray. This event serves as a caution, illustrating the destructive consequences of immoral conduct.

Therefore, not only the Jewish people but Noahides as well are obligated to maintain a moral society and avoid immoral actions, and also avoid hatred and its destructive effects as we can learn from the event of the war against Midian.


Rabbi Moshe Bernstein is a writer and a Community Rabbi in Netanya, Israel. He believes in making connections between the Jewish People and the Noahides worldwide in order to share and enhance the knowledge of the Torah's Universal Code for Humanity and fulfill Isaiah's Prophecy 11:9 " And the world will be filled with the knowledge of G-d as the waters cover the oceans".


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