This week’s Torah portion is a double portion and continuing in the format used for other double portions the Dvar for this week will follow the split 7 inch record format where each chapter gets its own track. So here you have it folks Circle Pit The Bimah Split EP Vol. 5…
Parsha Matot (Numbers 30:2 – 32:42)
1. The Oath That Keeps Me Free
Parsha Matot begins with a discussion on everything to do with oaths. Each and every one of us has at some point taken an oath and kept it but we have all deliberately and accidentally broken well intentioned promises. Oaths, when made, form an emotional bond with the taker and any witnesses admitting later that you broke something that important can really take a mental toll. Torah a lot of times gets a bad rap from detractors with claims of sexism, racism, and calls to violence but what is often overlooked is the dialogue that constantly takes place between people. If you make an oath do everything you can to keep it, if you break it acknowledge your shortcoming and apologize, and if you are someone being apologized to accept it and focus on what lies ahead not on what didn’t happen…
2. Kill Them All And Let Moses Sort Them Out
Acting on Hashem’s direction Moses forms a twelve thousand strong army composed of one thousand men from each tribe and orders them to shock and awe the Midianites. Led by Pinchas (or Phinehas, remember him?) the army of Hashem descends on the Midianites and slays their five kings and the prophet Balaam; and then Moses gets mad . . .again. The returning army shows up with all the remaining Midianite women and children. This infuriates Moses who orders the immediate execution of every Midianite boy and woman who was not a virgin. Why was Moses so angry? Why spare the virgin girls? Good questions maybe he was afraid of a Midianite rebellion of biblical proportions taking place later on in the Promised Land. While living with Pharoah’s daughter Moses was instilled with Hebrew morals and beliefs by his biological mother turned nanny and we all know how that turned out for the Egyptians.
3. Promised Land Zionists Meet Spiritual Zionism
Matot ends on an interesting note The Reubanites and Gadites find the land east of the Jordan River perfect for their families and cattle. A tailored Zion if you will. Moses is concerned but for a change is not angry. Moses presents Reuban and Gad with a plan of action. As long as Reuban and Gad remain soldiers until the Promised Land is settled their families and cattle can stay east of the Jordan, if they refuse to fight as soldiers they will fall out of favor with Hashem and the rest of Israel. A lot of Jews live within Israel but even more live outside of the country what makes us Jews is not where we live but what we believe and wherever there are Jews how can that place not be a small piece of Zion.
Parsha Masei (Numbers 33:1 – 36:13)
1. Stations Of The Star
Parsha Masei starts out easy and what I mean by that is no moral conundrums. Masei lists the route and encampments the Ancient Hebrews found themselves in after leaving Egypt, a great reminder of where those who came before rested their heads thousands of years ago.
2. This Land Is My Land, That Land Is Your Land
Hashem informs Moses that He wants the Ancient Hebrews to dispose of the inhabitants of Canaan. He also gives a command to destroy every Idol and place of worship for them within the Promised Land. Hashem then dictates the physical boundaries of Israel and where each tribe is expected to settle and thrive in. Call it a divine gift or a hand out Hashem’s idea of housing is designed to never leave anyone without a stable home.
3. City To City
Torah is a divinely coded set of laws and a key piece to any lawful society is a system designed to decide on a course of restitution and rehabilitation for those who break the law. Once settled within the Promised Land the Ancient Hebrews are told they must provide towns and pastures for the Levites to live in. Cities of Refuge must also be constructed for those found guilty of manslaughter to live in without fear of reprisals. Those found guilty of manslaughter were to live in these separate cities until the death of the High Priest, imagine if today you were sentenced to prison but told your release was dependent on the life and death of the sentencing judge.
4. Family Fortune
Masei is all about land. We have a synopsis of the route taken out of Egypt, the borders of the Promised Land, and who gets to live where but one loophole remains. Remember Zelophehad’s five single daughters and their land? Zelophehad’s kinsmen sure do, fearing a loss of land from the tribe of Manasseh they appeal to Moses who decides it is only fair to keep things equal between the various tribe’s land holdings. Moses rules that the sisters can keep their inheritance but may only marry within their tribe so no land is lost.
Jeremiah@punktorah.org Twitter: @circlepitbimah