TORAH READING FOR 2 AV 5782 SHMITAH Jul 29-30, 2022
From ReformJudaism.org https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/matot-masei
Matot – Mas’ei (מַּטּוֹת – Hebrew for “tribes” and מַסְעֵי Hebrew for “journeys/marches”) – Numbers 30:2–36:13
Moses spoke to the heads of the Israelite tribes, saying: “This is what the Eternal has commanded: If a householder makes a vow to the Eternal or takes an oath imposing an obligation on himself, he shall not break his pledge; he must carry out all that has crossed his lips.” – Numbers 30:2-3
- Moses explains to the Israelites the laws concerning vows made by men and women. (30:2-17)
- Israel wages war against the Midianites. (31:1-18)
- The laws regarding the spoils of war are outlined. (31:19-54)
- The tribes of Reuben and Gad are granted permission to stay on the east bank of the Jordan River. (32:1-42)
- The itinerary of the Israelites through the wilderness from Egypt to Jordan is delineated. (33:1-49)
- Moses tells Israel to remove the current inhabitants of the land that God will give them and to destroy their gods. (33:50-56)
- The boundaries of the Land of Israel are defined, along with those of the Levitical cities and the cities of refuge. (34:1-35:15)
- God makes a precise distinction between murder and manslaughter. (35:16-34)
- The laws of inheritance as they apply to Israelite women are delineated. (36:1-13)
Most Ashkenazi: Jeremiah 2:4-28; 3:4
Sefardi: Jeremiah 2:4-28; 3:4, 4:1-2
These Parashot end the Book of Numbers. Upon completing a book of Torah Ashkenazi Jews shout “Chazak! Chazak! Venit-chazëk” which is translated as “Be strong! Be strong! And may we be strengthened!” The Sephardic custom is to say “Chazak U’baruch” (“strength and blessing”) at the end of every single individual Torah reading; the response is “Chazak Ve’ematz” (“be strong and have courage” from Deut. 31:23) or “Baruch Tihiye” (“may you be blessed.”)
From ReformJudaism.org https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/matot-masei
On the Other Side of the Jordan
By: Beth Ellen Young
STRUGGLING WITH TORAH and REFLECTION
You can read this week’s Torah Portions at https://www.sefaria.org/Numbers.30.2-36.13
From “The Torah / A Women’s Commentary” edited by Dr. Tamara Cohn Eskenazi and Rabbi Andrea L. Weiss, Ph.D.
מטות Matot – Numbers 30:2–32:42
Vows and Vengeance by Elizabeth Goldstein, p. 989
PARASHAT MATOT (“tribes”) presents final preparations for entering into the Promised Land and offers further guidelines to the Israelites for practices once they settle in the land. As the Israelites camp in the plains of Moab, their final stop before entering the land, God instructs Moses on matters that relate to the internal workings of the Israelite community and also to the community’s relationship with its neighbors.
The parashah first supplements earlier laws about vows (Leviticus 27; Numbers 6), then picks up the story about the incident at Baal-peor, where Israelite men sinned by succumbing to idolatry (Numbers 25). In that earlier account at Baal-peor, the priest Phinehas appeased God’s wrath by killing two chief offenders, an Israelite man and a Midianite woman. In this parashah, God demands that the Israelites fight against the Midianites and thereby avenge that earlier wrong.
After the successful war against the Midianites, two tribes request to remain east of the Jordan. Moses resolves this potential split among the tribes by granting the request on the condition that the fighting men will cross the Jordan with the rest of the tribes while their families settle down in the eastern region, as requested.
Women are prominent in the discussions of both vows and the war against the Midianites. In the first case, the text delineates the rights of women who make vows (30:2–17). These instructions shed important light on the status of women within the family and illustrate the circumstances under which the male head of the household can overrule decisions made by women within the household. At the same time, these detailed laws indicate that women could make independent vows to God and, under normal circumstances, would be held accountable for fulfilling them.
The subsequent section on war against the Midianites (31:1–12) focuses on Midianite women as the chief culprits in Israel’s earlier transgressions at Baal-peor (25:1–18). The structure of the parashah thus indirectly contrasts the Israelite women (who turn to God) with the foreign “perverse” women of Midian (who turn Israelite men away from God).
Finally, the mention of the “water of lustration” (mei niddah) in 31:23, the mixture that the warriors use to purify themselves after the battle, suggests a connection to women, since the word niddah is also used for menstruation or a menstruant (see at Leviticus 15:19–30).
מסעי Mas’ei – Numbers 33:1–36:13
The Journey’s End by Tamara Cohn Eskenazi and Elizabeth Goldstein, pp. 1013-1014
PARASHAT MAS’EI (“marches”) begins with exactly that: a review of Israel’s travels through the wilderness. Numbers 33 presents a step-by-step itinerary describing the journey of the Israelites from the time they left Egypt to their arrival in the plains of Moab. A number of places serve as markers not merely of a geographical itinerary but also of experiences that shaped, and at times transformed, the Israelites from slaves to a people ready to possess the Promised Land.
After Numbers 33 recounts the travels of the past, Numbers 34–36 turn to the future; these units provide details about how Israel should function as a nation in its own land. As Hara E. Person notes, the parashah is about boundaries, both geographic and social (The Women’s Torah Commentary, ed. Elyse Goldstein, 2000, p. 321). Specifically, God delineates the borders of the land and then appoints leaders from each tribe to oversee the distribution of each tribal portion.
After God and Moses assign the tribes their territories, the focus falls on the one tribe that is noticeably absent from the list: the Levites. Instead of possessing their own portion of land, the Levites will receive forty-eight cities in which to dwell. Since six of these cities will be set aside as cities of refuge for those guilty of unintentional homicide, God’s speech turns to a definition of murder, the requirements for witnesses in capital cases, and other relevant rules to ensure safety and equity.
The book of Numbers concludes by revisiting the case of the daughters of Zelophehad, with a stipulation added to ensure that the ancestral territories they inherit will always belong to their tribe, Manasseh.
At the conclusion of the book of Numbers, the people stand at the plains of Moab, poised to enter the Promised Land. Here, the story of Israel’s journey ends. (The book of Deuteronomy–which is composed almost entirely of Moses’ speeches–does not carry the story further except in its final scene, the death of Moses.)
Although not visible in the travel accounts recorded in this parashah, women come to the fore at the end of the book, with the story about Mahlah, Tirzah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Noah, the five daughters of Zelophehad who are entitled to inherit his land (Numbers 27). In Numbers 36, leaders of their clan raise a concern: the land might be lost to the tribe if the women marry men from another tribe. Moses solves the problem by restricting the group from which the daughters may choose a spouse. Even though Numbers 36 restricts their marriage options to those of their tribe, it also guarantees that the five women will have what they demanded in 27:4–an inheritance among their kin. In addition, and as a result, their names are perpetuated in Israel’s story.
The appearance of these five women at the conclusion of Numbers mirrors the reference to five women at the beginning of Exodus: Shiphrah and Puah, Moses’ unnamed mother and sister (later identified as Jochebed and Miriam), and Pharaoh’s daughter (Exodus 1–2), all of whom engaged in saving children’s lives, Moses’ life in particular. These two sets of five courageous and resourceful women thus form the bookends of Israel’s journey from slavery.
Another View – by Masha Turner, p. 1030
NUMBERS 27 DESCRIBED the amending of a law regarding who may inherit land: Zelophehad’s daughters–Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah–brought their case before Moses; after they demanded their share of the land, the law was amended to enable them to inherit their father’s land. However, in this parashah (Numbers 36), the clan heads of their tribe approach Moses and ask him to prevent the discrimination stemming from the previously amended law. Apparently, correcting the earlier inequity created a new one, this time for the tribe to which they belong. As before, Moses amends the legislation, under God’s guidance.
The two stories, taken together, nicely illustrate the fact that some laws in the Torah are the outcome of cooperation between God and human beings. This raises the question concerning the nature of the Torah’s laws. Most of the commandments in the Torah appear as if written a priori and seem sealed and unchangeable. Nevertheless, five commandments happen to be the outcome of certain circumstances that called for God’s intervention and resulted in new legislation and amendments. (The other three cases are: the stories of the blasphemer in Leviticus 24:10–16; the man gathering sticks in Numbers 15:32–36; and the ritually impure individuals prevented from bringing the paschal offering on time in 9:1–14.)
The Torah could have preserved only the final laws, without the narratives that describe their emergence. But it seems that the Torah intentionally highlights a principle of dialogue between human groups and divine legislation. The purpose of the laws is that “one shall live by them” (Leviticus 18:5), meaning that the laws of the Torah must fit life. Such a goal is achieved by an openness to change, albeit with God’s explicit consent and command. As a result, this parashah constitutes the philosophical basis for the Oral Torah–that is, the ongoing, authoritative interpretation of Scripture. The presupposition is that its legal kernel and principles are embedded within the Written Torah, and that through different sorts of exegesis of the Torah (that is, through its explanation and interpretation), the Oral Torah is fleshed out. By way of constant searching, responses are revealed to never-ending questions.
TISH’A B’AV – Sa-Su 8/6-7
Tish’a B’Av, the Ninth of Av, a fast day commemorating the destruction of both the First and Second Temples as well as the Expulsion from Spain, begins the evening of Saturday, August 6 and ends at nightfall on Sunday, August 7, 2022.
From “Mishkan T’filah / A Reform Siddur”:
FOR OUR COUNTRY p.516
THUS SAYS ADONAI, This is what I desire: to unlock the fetters of wickedness, and untie the cords of lawlessness; to let the oppressed go free, to break off every yoke. Share your bread with the hungry, and take the wretched poor into your home. When you see the naked, give clothing, and do not ignore your own kin.
O GUARDIAN of life and liberty, may our nation always merit Your protection. Teach us to give thanks for what we have by sharing it with those who are in need. Keep our eyes open to the wonders of creation, and alert to the care of the earth. May we never be lazy in the work of peace; may we honor those who have [served, suffered or] died in defense of our ideals. Grant our leaders wisdom and forbearance. May they govern with justice and compassion. Help us all to appreciate one another, and to respect the many ways that we may serve You. May our homes be safe from affliction and strife, and our country be sound in body and spirit. Amen.
We recite MI SHEBËRACH for the victims of abuse, brutality, conflicts, fear, natural disasters, pandemics, tragedies, violence of all kinds especially directed at individuals and specific communities including us, and war; for all those at home alone or lonely; for all those in need of physical, emotional, and mental healing. “R’fuah sh’lëmah” – a complete recovery!
We say KADDISH YATOM for those of our friends and families who have died and been buried this last week; those in the period of Sh’loshim (30 days since burial); those who have died in the last year; and those whose Yahrzeits/Anyos occur at this time; as well as the victims of brutality, conflict, disease, natural disasters, pandemics, tragedies, violence of all kinds, and war.
This coming week, 2 Av through 8 Av, we lovingly remember:
Chaya bat Yitzchak
Mother of TKH member Ruben Gomez
TKH Memorial Board
Donor of Organ to TKH
Those victims of the Sho’ah (Holocaust) who died at this time of year.
“ZICHRONAM LIV’RACHAH” – MAY THEIR MEMORIES BE FOR BLESSING.
TORAH STUDY AND SHAZOOM
We will meet as usual at the regular times for Torah Study and Shazoom this evening, Friday, July 29, 2022.
Zoom regularly updates its security and performance features. Making sure you have the latest version of Zoom, please join us online this evening with wine/grape juice for Kiddush and Challah for Motzi.
Topic: Torah Study – Matot-Mas’ëi (triennial part) Num. 33:50-36:13
Time: Jul 29, 2022 06:00 PM Arizona
Shazoom – Erev Shabbat Service
Time: Jul 29, 2022 07:30 PM Arizona
To join Torah Study and/or Shazoom click on the following link [you may need to copy it into your browser]: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/72510500854?pwd=Z3VQZWF4U1BBZytNYmh3aHFTWkFDZz09
Meeting ID: 725 1050 0854
Hint: The last character of the password is the number zero.
Shabbat Shalom – Buen Shabbat!