There is a contradiciton between two psukim which are next to each other in our sedra! HaShem tells Moshe to 'take the revenge OF BNEI YISRAEL against the Midyanim' (31;2), but in the very next pasuk Moshe tells Bnei Yisrael to 'take the revenge of HASHEM against Midyan.' Why does Moshe change the command?
1) The Targum Onkelus (31;3) explains the word 'HaShem' used by Moshe as 'the nation of HaShem,' which presumably is akin to the explanation of Rashi (31;3) that Moshe was teaching us that standing up against the Bnei Yisrael is like standing up to HaShem. According to this, Moshe didn't really change HaShem's command at all.
2) The Meshech Chochmah (Vayikra 23;24 ‘yihiyeh’) offers a different [and beautiful] explanation to our contradiction. There is a general rule that HaShem ascribes achievements/events to us, His people, whilst we ascribe them to Him. (He calls the relationship one of two beings in love; each one wants to give credit to the other). An example is the two words for the festival of Pesach: In the Torah, Pesach is mainly called 'Chag Hamatzos,' whilst we call it 'Pesach' instead

. Why do we not follow the Torah name? Since HaShem chooses to call it Chag Hamatzos after our actions in committing ourselves to Him via eating the korban pesach and baking matzos. But we want to name the festival Pesach after HaShem's actions – that He passed over our houses in Egypt and spared us during the plague of the firstborns.

Another example is found in tefillin. Our tefillin has pesukim of the shmah, etc telling of the greatness of HaShem. Yet we are also told that HaShem wears tefillin (brachos, chagigah 3b; not to be taken at a purely simple level), which say on them 'who is like Your nation Israel' – again the theme of our speaking of HaShem and Him speaking about us (heard from Jack Samad).

Thus, when HaShem commanded Moshe to take revenge from the Midyanites, it was to be on behalf of the Bnei Yisrael, whereas Moshe ascribes the glory to HaShem in calling it 'the revenge for HaShem.'

 

 

 

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