WORDS TO REMEMBER
From The Haftarah Commentary by Plaut-Stern, p.426
And if you swear by the living God in truth, justice, and righteousness,
then nations shall find blessing in you, and glory in you. (Jer. 4:2)
From Reform Judaism https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/matot-masei
Matot – Mas’ei (מַטּוֹת – מַסְעֵי The Tribes / The Marches of [the Israelites]) 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)
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.”)
Jeremiah 2:4-28, 3:4 (Ashkenazi)
Jeremiah 2:4-28, 3:4, 4:1-2 (Sefardi)
From Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masei
When parashah Masei is combined with parashah Matot (as it will be until 2035), the haftarah is the haftarah for parashah Masei.
Jeremiah (Haftarah) [The Haftarah Commentary, p.416]
Connection of the haftarah and sidra:
There is no connection between the two; rather, this is the second of three haftarot that are usually read between the seventeenth day of Tammuz (when the Babylonians breached the city walls) and the ninth of Av (when they razed the Temple.) All three deal with the punishment that will be meted out to a people that forgets the God of the Covenant, and are known to tradition by an Aramaic name, תלת דפרענותא (t’lat d’fur’anuta), the “three [haftarot] of affliction.”
From Reform Judaism https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/matot-masei
By: Rabbi Leah R. Berkowitz
STRUGGLING WITH TORAH and REFLECTION
For Torah Study, instead of the double portion from the Book of Numbers that is read on this Shabbat, we will read the Haftarah (a selection from the prophets) from Jeremiah 2:4-28, 3:4, 4:1-2. You can read this week’s double Torah Portion at https://www.sefaria.org/Numbers.30.2-36.13, and the Haftarah at https://www.sefaria.org/Jeremiah.2.4-28, https://www.sefaria.org/Jeremiah.3.4, and https://www.sefaria.org/Jeremiah.4.1-2
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
Post-biblical Interpretations – by Dvora E. Weisberg, pp. 1006-7
Moses spoke to the heads of the Israelite tribes (30:2). Rabbi Moses Sofer, a Hungarian communal leader of the early 19th century, suggests that the Torah’s discussion of vows and oaths is addressed to the “heads of the Israelite tribes” because it is leaders who most often fail to fulfill their promises and commitments (cited in A.Y. Greenberg, Itturei Torah, 1985).
If a woman makes a vow (30:4). The Rabbis imagined that women made vows denying themselves certain foods, bathing, the use of cosmetics and jewelry, and sexual intercourse (BT N’darim 79a–b, 81b–82a), perhaps because these were things over which women had some control and which also gave them pleasure.
in her father’s household (30:4). According to Midrash Sifrei B’midbar on this verse, a young woman was still under her father’s authority, even if she was not literally in her father’s home when she made the vow. The medieval French commentator Rashi comments that the phrase “by reason of her youth” excludes both a very young girl, whose vows have no legal force, and a young woman who has reached the age of majority. An adult woman is not under her father’s legal control, even if she is still living at home, and her father cannot annul her vows.
But if her husband restrains her (30:9). BT N’darim 79a–b restricts a husband’s power to annul his wife’s vows to those of self-denial or that have an impact on the marital relationship. Depending on the interpreter, the husband’s power of cancellation could be limited to vows that interfere with the couple’s sexual relationship or could include any vow that might cause contention in the marriage (Adin Steinsaltz on N’darim 79b, citing R. Isaac DeTrani and R. Menachem Meiri). A vow to abstain from sexual intercourse could certainly be annulled by the husband.
The vow of a widow or of a divorced woman . . . shall be binding upon her (30:10). Since widows and divorcées are independent entities, no one is in a position to annul their vows. According to BT Gittin 79b, if a husband had annulled his wife’s vows that had a negative impact on the marital relationship, the woman is obligated to fulfill those vows should she become a divorcée or widow. Once vows purely of self-denial have been annulled, however, they are cancelled permanently.
But if he annuls them after [the day] he finds out, he shall bear her guilt (30:16). The Rabbis were concerned that a woman’s ability to make vows could harm her marriage. Mishnah Gittin 4:7 discusses a husband’s decision to divorce his wife due to her vows, while BT Gittin 46a indicates that a husband may simply not want to be married to a woman who makes vows.
The discussion of women’s vows in Numbers 30 indicates that women are, in principle, capable of making and fulfilling vows. The restrictions on the vows of a minor daughter or wife in no way negate this ability. Rather, the laws recognize a certain understanding of the father-daughter and husband-wife relationship, one in which the man has a significant amount of power over the woman. This power is tempered, at least in a marital relationship, by rabbinic legislation. Mishnah K’tubot 7:1–5 teaches that a husband who makes vows that compromise his wife’s ability to eat certain foods or wear jewelry, to visit her family or attend social functions, or who upholds his wife’s own vows of self-denial for a lengthy period of time should divorce her, since his actions make her life uncomfortable.
The Reubenites and the Gadites (32:1). Midrashic commentaries, such as Tanchuma, Matot 7, criticize the request of the Reubenites and the Gadites. They note that the tribes speak of providing shelter for their flocks before mentioning their children, an indication that they loved their possessions more than their families. Moses hints at their need to rethink their priorities; in his reply, he reverses the order, instructing them to “build towns for your children and [then] sheepfolds for your flocks” (32:24). According to Tanchuma, Matot 5, their inordinate love of possessions is what led these tribes to live outside of the land of Israel; as a result, they were exiled from their land before the other tribes (I Chronicles 5:26).
מסעי Mas’ei – Numbers 33:1–36:13
Post-biblical Interpretations – by Dvora E. Weisberg, pp. 1030-1
These were the marches of the Israelites (33:1). Why does the Torah recount all of the steps of Israel’s forty-year wanderings? Midrash Tanchuma, Mas’ei 11 draws a parallel to a king who takes his child on a journey to seek a cure for the child’s sickness. On the return trip, the doting father recalls each leg of the original trip, remembering how they traveled together and how he worried about his child’s condition. So the Torah in recalling the journey calls to mind the struggle God had with the Israelites in the wilderness.
The towns that you assign to the Levites (35:6). Tanchuma, Mas’ei 11 draws a parallel between God’s punishment of Adam and the law of the individual who commits homicide. God had told Adam that eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge would result in his death; nevertheless, God was merciful and exiled Adam from the Garden of Eden as a punishment for bringing death into the world. So too this law shows compassion for a person who accidentally kills another human being, exiling the killer to a city of refuge rather than mandating the killer’s death.
The blood-avenger himself shall put the murderer to death (35:19). The Torah recognizes that homicide can easily lead to a blood feud between families, with one act of vengeance leading to another and then another. JT Makot 2:5 even considers the possibility that the killer and his victim might be relatives, leading to a situation where to avenge one family member, a person might seek vengeance on another relative.
the assembly shall decide (35:24). Since the assembly that decides between the killer and the blood-avenger must be impartial, relatives of the accused and his victim are excluded from the assembly (JT Sanhedrin 3:9).
This is what (36:6). Rabbinic sources (BT Taanit 30b; Bava Batra 120a) indicate that this law, requiring daughters who inherit from their father to marry within the clan, applied only to the generation of the wilderness, or to a time in which land was held by the tribes (Baruch HaLevi Epstein, Torah T’mimah on 36:6).
They may marry anyone they wish, provided they marry into a clan of their father’s tribe (36:6). This statement seems contradictory. A tradition in BT Bava Batra 120a explains that the daughters of Zelophehad were permitted to marry into any of the tribes, but the Torah advised them to make “suitable” marriages that would please both themselves and their father’s clan members.
Mahlah, Tirzah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Noah (36:11). Zelophehad’s daughters are listed in a different order here than in Numbers 27. According to BT Bava Batra 120a, this indicates that each of them was equal to the other. This text also suggests that Numbers 36 lists the women in the order in which they were born, while Numbers 27 mentions them in order of wisdom.
These different orders are cited in several 19th-century anecdotes that discuss women’s experiences and characteristics (cited in A. I. Greenberg, Itturei Torah on 36:11). A disciple of Rabbi Elijah ben Solomon Zalman (“the Vilna Gaon”) was approached by a man who complained that after marrying his son to the daughter of an important man, he discovered that his daughter-in-law, a woman whom he described as both intelligent and pious, was ten years older than her new husband. The rabbi responded with humor, pointing out that the daughters of Zelophehad were listed in chronological order only after they were married, to teach that a woman’s age should not be mentioned while she is single since it becomes irrelevant after marriage.
In another story, the wife of Rabbi Saul of Amsterdam, known in her youth as a brilliant woman, was asked why she had abandoned her studies after marrying and having children. She replied by noting that before their marriage, the daughters of Zelophehad were listed by (that is, known for) their wisdom, but “after they married and accepted the millstone [of household duties and childrearing] around their necks, their wisdom was forgotten and they were thereafter listed by their ages.” This story acknowledges the challenges that intelligent and learned women faced in continuing their studies in a society that expected married women to devote themselves to their husbands and children.
ROSH CHODESH AV / רֹאשׁ חוֹדֶשׁ אָב
Rosh Chodesh Av for Hebrew Year 5783 begins at sundown on Tuesday, 18 July 2023 and ends at nightfall on Wednesday, 19 July 2023. [It signals a period of preparation for Rosh Hashanah, which is two short months away.] Av (אָב) is the 5th month of the Hebrew year, has 30 days, and corresponds to July or August on the Gregorian calendar. רֹאשׁ חוֹדֶשׁ, transliterated Rosh Chodesh or Rosh Hodesh, is a minor holiday that occurs at the beginning of every month in the Hebrew calendar. It is marked by the birth of a new moon.
In some traditions, the first nine days are an intense period of mourning. The destruction of the first and second temples, the expulsion from Spain in 1492, and several other tragic and disastrous events in Jewish history are recalled. This period of mourning culminates with a full fast day and reading the Book of Lamentations, which the Gemara says was written by Jeremiah, on the 9 of Av (Tisha B’Av).
At least two other noteworthy observances take place during Av. The date of Aaron’s death, which is explicitly stated in Torah (Numbers 33:38), is commemorated on the first of Av. The 15 of Av (Tu B’Av) is a minor holiday celebrating love similar to Valentine’s Day and is considered a great day for weddings.
From “Mishkan T’filah / A Reform Siddur”:
ROSH CHODESH – FOR THE NEW MONTH p.519
Our God and God of our ancestors, may the new month bring us goodness and blessing. May we have long life, peace, prosperity, a life exalted by love of Torah and reverence for the divine; a life in which the longings of our hearts are fulfilled for good.
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, 19 Tamuz through 25 Tamuz, we lovingly remember:
First Yahrzeit, Uncle of Mary Caron
Father of Pam Elder
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 14, 2023.
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 – Haftarah Matot-Mas’ëi: Jeremiah 2:4-28, 3:4, 4:1-2
Time: Jul 14, 2023 06:00 PM Arizona
Shazoom – Erev Shabbat Service
Time: Jul 14, 2023 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 – Gut Shabbos!
PS – About the Book of Jeremiah:
From Jewish Encyclopedia
From Jewish Virtual Library
Timelines from Wikipedia