The Chafetz Project -
Melekhet Machashevet Citations

    The following are online citations from Moshe Chafetz's 1710 work Melekhet Machashevet, found on the internet.

    Not all links are still active, but relevant text is excerpted here in full.

    Parshat Bemidbar
    (From Numbers)

    The Jersey Shore Torah Bulletin, Parshat Bemidbar

    "And with you shall be one man from each tribe, each man should be the head of his family" (Bemidbar 1:4)

    A simple and boorish person who came from distinguished lineage was arguing with a wise scholar who came from a very plain family. The coarse ignoramus boasted about his illustrious ancestors. "I am a scion of great people. Your ancestors are nothing compared to mine," he arrogantly said. The scholar wanted to put him in his place and said to him, "True, you come from a long line of great people. But unfortunately the line ends with you. My family tree begins with me."

    This, said Rabbi Moshe Chaifetz, author of Melechet Machshevet, is the idea of our verse. Each man should be the head of his family's lineage. He should be an elevated person in his own right and his descendants should be proud to consider him their ancestor. Rather than boasting about one's prominent lineage, one should focus on making oneself into an elevated person. (Growth through Torah)

    Aish - "The Head of a Family Tree" - May 2010

    A sermon "based on an idea of Moshe Chaifetz, as explained in "Growth Through Torah" by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin."

    "This week's parsha begins with a command from God to Moshe to count the Jewish people. Moshe was also told to enlist the help of the heads of each tribe, "And with you (Moshe) shall be one man from each tribe, each man should be the head of his family." (Numbers 1:4). Explains Rabbi Moshe Chaifetz, 'the head of one's family is someone who is the beginning of a new lineage. The 'head' is the start of a new line. In other words, someone the children will be proud of."

    Congregation Bnai Israel (NJ) - rabbi 5767

    "Do not cut off the tribe of the families of the Kohatites from among the Levites. Do this that they may live and not die, when they approach the most holy things: Aaron and his sons shall go in and appoint them every one to his service and to his burden. They shall not go in to see the holy things, as they are being covered, lest they die."
    -- 4:18 - 20

    I believe the text contains a warning against the temptation of high office and the cure - humility. Pride and the feeling of success come before a fall. True contentment and happiness can only be achieved by the feeling of reverence and humility. The sons of Kohat were in danger of becoming victims of pride and vanity as a result of the privilege of carrying the ark which had been bestowed on them. God therefore withheld from them one important detail. They were not allowed to carry the ark until Aaron and his sons ha covered the holy things, so that they should realize that they, too, were subordinated to someone higher than themselves... The prohibition of touching the holy things was designed to disinflate their pride...
    Moshe Hefez (16th Century)

    The OU/NCSY Israel Center - Torah Tidbits (5764)

    At the end of Parshat Bamidbar we are warned, somewhat paradoxically, of the dangers inherent in holy items. For, in dealing with the arrangements for taking down the Tabernacle, the Kahati family of Levites are cautioned that, "Every one [shall have] his service and his burden - [and] shall not go into see the holy items while they are being covered, lest they die" (Bamidbar 4:19-20).

    ...Often, argues R. Moshe Hefetz, privilege leads to pride. It seems that Aharon, forever the peacemaker, assigned everyone the task most appropriate. Consequently he maintained order, decorum, and a modicum of modesty.


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