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Matot-Masei 5779

Numbers 30:2 - 36:13

Matos includes the laws of making and annulling vows, the surprise attack on Midian (the '67 War wasn't the Jewish people's first surprise attack!) in retribution for the devastation the Midianites wreaked upon the Jewish people, the purification after the war of people and vessels, dedicating a portion of the spoils to the communal good (perhaps the first Federation campaign), the request of the tribes of Reuben and Gad for their portion of land to be east of the Jordan river (yes, Trans-Jordan/Jordan is also part of the Biblical land of Israel). Moshe objects to the request because he thinks the tribes will not take part in the conquering of the land of Israel; the tribes clarify that they will be the advance troops in the attack and thus receive permission.

Masei includes the complete list of journeys in the desert (the name of each stop hints at a deeper meaning, a lesson learned there). God commands to drive out the land's inhabitants, to destroy their idols and to divide the land by a lottery system. God establishes the borders of the Land of Israel. New leadership is appointed, cities of the Levites and Cities of Refuge (where an accidental murderer may seek asylum) are designated. Lastly, the laws are set forth regarding accidental and willful murder as well as inheritance laws only for that generation regarding property of a couple where each came from a different tribe.

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Dvar Torah
from Twerski on Chumash by Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski, M.D.

The Torah states:

"These are the journeys of the Children of Israel ... Moses wrote their goings forth according to their journeys" (Numbers 33:1-2).

The Torah commentaries say that the enumeration of the journeys and encampments was to review all that had transpired during the forty years in the desert. The names listed are not necessarily the names of the places, but hints as to what the people did in those places.

A person who has a purpose and goal in life will pause every now and then to assess how much he has accomplished toward reaching his objective.

Many tzaddikim, (righteous people) did an accounting every night to see what they accomplished during that day and to correct whatever deficiencies they discovered.

So it was with Moses at the end of the forty years in the desert. The Israelites were about to enter the Holy Land and he was about to turn over the leadership to Joshua. The period of his stewardship had come to a close. It was time to see what Moses and the Israelites had achieved during the past forty years, hence the meticulous review of the journeys and encampments and what had transpired in each place.

If we are serious about achieving a goal in our lives we must periodically take inventory. What have we accomplished? How can we better use our time?

To desire is human;
to control our desires
is the essence of being human,



Fri, January 17 2020 20 Tevet 5780