The weekly Parsha – Parshas Matot Maasei

As we read in the first of this week’s two Torah portions, Matot, the Jews were given very specific instructions on dividing the spoils of war after they were victorious over the Midianites. Half was to go to the men who had actually participated in battle, and the other half was to be divided between the rest of the nation. The Torah further specifies the percentage — one out of every 500 and one out of every 50 — that was to be rendered to the priests and Levites.

After these instructions the Torah states, “And Moses and Elazar the priest did as G-d had commanded Moses.” The next several verses provide us with the exact figures: how many of each category were taken in battle, how many constituted half the spoils, and how many one out of 500 came out to be.

A question is asked: Why does the Torah go into such detail? Why is it important for us to know the exact number of each category? Why doesn’t the Torah merely inform us that G-d’s command was carried out or tell us the total amount of booty, in which case we can figure out the numbers for ourselves?

Moses was commanded to divide the spoils in half, and from that half to set aside one part out of 500. But not every number is divisible by 500. Surprisingly, the Torah does not mention what Moses was supposed to do with the odd numbers that would be left over.

When we look at the figures, however, we see that there were no odd numbers! The sum of every single category of spoils was divisible by the number it was to be divided by; there were no left-over numbers!

The quantities mentioned in the Torah are very large. Nonetheless, G-d’s command was carried out in a perfect manner, with all of the numbers adding up correctly. And in fact, this was not accidental but intentional.

G-d values the Jewish people’s observance of His mitzvot so greatly and desires that we fulfill them so perfectly that He orchestrated the multiplicity of events connected with the battle so that the numbers would come out even! A large number of factors had to be “manipulated”: how many animals the Midianites would buy and sell prior to the war, keeping the animals healthy, etc. Indeed, not one animal died until the division of spoils was completed!

From this we learn that whenever a Jew encounters obstacles in his daily life or finds himself beset with problems that hinder his observance of Torah and mitzvot he must trust in G-d completely. For G-d will surely help him fulfill His will in a perfect manner.