Table of Contents
The parshah has three main sections:
- The Laws of Nedarim (vows)
- The war with Midian including the booty
- The boundaries of ever hayarden
Hachnaa – Subjugation
The dvar reshus must be subjugated to a higher purpose from the start. It is not enough to enjoy the world for it’s own sake, but we must make out participation in physicality subject to our spiritual life. This is
Havdala – Distinctions
Internal boundaries must be set up in order to ensure that only the beneficial aspects of the dvar reshus are retained while the negativity is expunged.
Hamtaka – Elevation
The experience must be further elevated and reattached to its source after the fact. This is represented by the trumah to the Kohanim.
Now we understand what nedarim are doing in the parshah. Nedarim are a framework for dealing with divrei reshus. There are different ways to view nedarim in Chazal. One way to view them is as undesireable but sometimes necessary. Another way is that it is desirable to make a neder and fulfill it.
The parshah ends by describing the boundaries of the annexed portions of land outside of Eretz Yisrael proper. We would expect the Torah to tell us what we need to know about the ikar land first, and then explain how to expand it, but instead the Torah first tells us about expanding beyond the boundaries before it tells us about the world inside our borders. The goal of avodas Hashem is to have an expansive relationship which goes beyond the boundaries of mere observance of the law. The Torah teaches us our goal first, then explains the basic standard that we must hold to.