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Dvar for Matot-Maasei (Numbers 30:2-36:13)

In Parshat Matot, Moshe gathers 1,000 members from each tribe to create an army and kill the people of Midian, who posed the biggest existential threat to the Jewish people – that of spiritual and moral corruption. The Torah then spends no less than 28 pessukim (verses) explaining how to divvy up the massive spoils, how much of it is tithed, and who gets what (31:20-47). When the 12,000 soldiers realize that not a single one of them died in the battle, they approached Moshe and said, “we have dedicated the offering (of all the jewelry) to G-d… to atone for our souls …” (31:50). Why did the soldiers reference their offering as “the” offering when it was done voluntarily and was never referenced or requested? Wouldn’t “an” offering be more accurate?

Rav S. R. Hirsch’s answer illuminates this entire Parsha in a whole new light. He explains that the circumstances surrounding the soldiers’ victory were so obviously with the help of G-d that they had no choice but to thank Him for his partnership. This alignment with G-d is a turning point for a people that heretofore complained and cried when they didn’t get their way. This maturity can be observed in the cooperation between Moshe and the tribes that settled outside of Israel, the interactions between Moshe and the claimants against the daughters of Tzlafchad, cities of refuge for inadvertent deaths, and other topics in the Parsha.

A simple “the” showed G-d and Moshe that the Jews were ready to move on. Sometimes it’s so obvious how we feel about people that we can’t help but convey those feelings. In good ways and bad, an act can communicate a slew of thoughts, and a word can convey a world of emotions.