In the Torah’s narrative of Klal Yisroel’s defeat of Midian, says HaRav Yissochor Frand shlit”a, we read a name that we are vaguely familiar with: Tzur. Tzur’s first appearance in the Torah was at the end of Parshas Chukas, as the father of Kozbi, the woman with whom Zimri sinned publicly.
Midrash Tanchuma tells us that Tzur was the greatest of the five Midiani kings, but he was listed third by the Torah of the five because he readily sent his daughter to commit a public immoral act.
We have to wonder, says Rav Frand, when we read such a Midrash: Does Tzur really care? Does it bother him in the least if the Torah lists the Midiani kings and places him third instead of first? (And a very similar thing happens with Ephron, he mentions).
Explains Rav Frand shlit”a, in truth, these questions stem from a false perception that we all possess to some extent: As long as we are here in Olam HaZeh (this world), he says, the physical world seems so real to us and Olam HaBah (The World to Come) seems so far off that we consider the physical world a reality and the spiritual world somewhat fantastic.
In the physical world, one can blatantly ignore or shrug off even the greatest of insults. In Olam HaBah, however, all the false illusions of “the Real World” are exposed. Every single person, even a person who had no spiritual values in this world, suddenly realizes that spirituality is all that matters.
As long as Tzur was here on earth, he would have snickered if we would have told him that he was being punished by being mentioned disparagingly in the Torah.
‘And Moshe said to the children of Gad and the children of Reuven: “Shall your brothers come to war, and you will stay here? And why do you dissuade the heart of the Children of Israel from crossing to the Land that Hashem gives to them?”’ (Bamidbar 32:6-7)
The Torah describes here how the people from the Tribes of Gad and Reuven had much livestock, and they saw the land right outside the Land of Israel, which was very good for animals. So they brought the question to Moshe Rabbeinu; could they have that land as an inheritance, instead of a portion inside of Eretz Yisroel?
And one of the things Moshe Rabbeinu replies (see the quoted verses) is that if they do so, they could cause others to not want to come across the Yardein.
Rashi HaKadosh explains that he was saying that they would remove and hold back the hearts of the Jews from crossing over to Israel. Because the People would reason that they are afraid of war and of the strength of the towns and people.
From this it is possible to see the great power of influence that every person holds: Moshe Rabbeinu was afraid that the children of Gad and Reuven could influence the rest of the Bnei Yisroel to not want to go into Israel -- and we too must be very careful to never, Chas V’Shalom, give any bad example.
But it also goes the other way: If we can have such a negative effect on people if we act badly, Chas V’Shalom, then we also can influence so many people for good if we just make sure that we behave properly. By doing as we should, we can help the entire world!
Often people like to tell others to do good. But perhaps more important than that, is to show them to do good… (Tal U’Matar).
A Gut Shabbos to all!