Weekly Reading Insights: Mattot/Massey 5764



Overview of the Weekly Reading: Mattot/Massey

Shabbat Mavarchim

To be read on 28 Tamuz 5764 (July 17th )
Torah: Numbers 30:2-36:13
Haftorah: Jeremiah 2:4-28, 3:4, 4:1-2 ("2nd haftorah of affliction")

Matot is the 9th Reading out of 10 in Numbers and 42nd overall, and 24th out of 54 in overall length.
Massey is the 10th Reading out of 10 in Numbers and 43th overall, and 12th out of 54 in overall length.
Pirkei Avot: Chapter Two

Mattot opens with laws concerning making vows and their annulment. Next, G-d commands the Jews to take vengeance on Midian for having deliberately caused them to sin. After killing, capturing, and plundering the Midianites, the Jews are commanded how to purify themselves and the spoil. The spoil is divided according to G-dís command, and a part is dedicated to the Sanctuary. Remarkably (31:48-49) not a single Jew was killed in the battle with Midian. Mattot ends with the tribes of Reuven and Gad requesting to live in the conquered lands (that were not originally intended to be part of the Land of Israel). They are granted permission on condition that they only permanently settle this land after the rest of the Jews conquer and divide the Land of Israel on the opposite side of the Jordan River.
Massey begins listing the 42 different journeys the Jews traversed during their 40 years in the desert. Then, G-d commands that when the Jews will cross the Jordan to conquer the land of Canaan, they must completely drive out the inhabitants and destroy all idolatry. The Land is then to be divided according to tribes and families through a special type of Divinely conducted lottery system. G-d also defines the specific borders of the Land and lists leaders from each tribe who will help parcel out the Land. The Levites are also to be given 48 residential cities. These include 6 cities of refuge-havens to which the accidental murderer escapes from the blood avenger, a relative of the killed. Here are detailed many laws concerning intentional and unintentional bloodshed. The parsha ends with the tribe of Menashe complaining that their tribal inheritance would be diminished due to the daughters of Tzelofchad inheriting their fatherís portion. The sisters are then told that if they want to keep the inheritance, they must marry only men from their own tribe ensuring that their sons who inherit the land would also be from the tribe of Menashe.
With the conclusion of Massay, we complete the book of Bamidbar (Numbers).
Chazak, Chazak, Venitchazek!

FROM THE MASTERS OF KABBALA (K:42-43-64/Mattot/Massey)

From the holy Zohar, teachings of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai (Z:42-43-64/Mattot/Massey)

One of the delightful things about studying the Zohar is the seemingly bizarre statements like the above that make perfect sense when one understands the metaphors used to explain how G-d rules reality.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.

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From the holy Ari, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria of Safed (A:42-43-64/Mattot/Massey)

We have explained previously that the Priests express the divine attribute of loving-kindness (chesed) while the Levites express the attribute of severity (gevura).

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.

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From the Shelah, Shney Luchot HaBrit by Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz (S:42-43-64/Mattot/Massey)

As long as the victim of the murder has not been appeased, there can be no question of the deed having been atoned for.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.

FROM THE CHASSIDIC REBBES (V42-43-64/Mattot/Massey)

"Moses spoke to the tribal heads …"

The word "matot," which means tribes, also means staffs. Staffs symbolize stability and permanence, like a staff which is hard and strong. Massey means "journeys," and alludes to a changing and non- permanent situation. The fact that the two Torah portions of Matot and Massey are read together teaches us that even when we are traveling on a journey, for vacation or business, we must be as vigilant and unchanging in our religious observance as when we are at home.

(Likutei Sichot)

"These are the journeys of the Children of Israel."

There is nothing in macrocosm that does not also exist in microcosm. On the spiritual level, the 42 journeys of the Jewish people are reenacted in the life of every Jew, from the moment he is born till his last day on earth.

(The Baal Shem Tov)


Moses documented all the journeys of the Children of Israel through the desert; this record then became part and parcel of the Torah. Similarly, all the wanderings and misfortunes of the Jewish people during the present exile are being recorded; when Mashiach comes, they will constitute a book from which all will learn.

(Rabbi David of Lelov)


from the Chabad Master series, produced by Rabbi Yosef Marcus for

www.ascentofsafed.com and www.kabbalaonline.org

An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent

(for a free weekly email subscription, click here) (W:42-43-64/Mattot/Massey)

Parshas Massey, the second of this week's Torah portions, begins with a listing of all of the 42 stops the Jewish people made on their way from Egypt to Israel. Our tradition, especially in Kabbala, teaches that just as there were 42 journeys from Egypt to Israel, so each person makes 42 primary life journeys. Every person also has 42 more subtle journeys every year of his life; and 42 very subtle shifts every day, from waking up (leaving exile), to sleep (redemption). We are always on our journey to fulfill our mission in life.

The Rebbe Rayatz writes that when a soul descends to this corporeal plane, to en-clothe itself in a physical body, it has its own unique mission to accomplish. He warns us that we have to be careful not to be among those that intentionally or unintentionally, make a mistake.

To illustrate, he tells a story about a wealthy man and his wagon driver. Wealthy people always had their ways. In those times a clever person could go to the big city markets once, twice or three times a year, stock up on lucrative merchandise, sell it with substantial profit, and still have most of the year free to study Torah and fulfill the commandments with care.

Just such a wealthy person was making one of his annual business trips with his wagon driver. On their way they stopped for Shabbat, rather late in the day, in a certain town where they were not known. The wagon driver dropped off his employer at the hotel and continued on to the stable to arrange for the horses and wagon.

The wealthy man rented a room, went to the mikveh, put on his Shabbat clothes, and set off relatively early to the synagogue to study, says Psalms and prepare for Shabbat. On his way, he passed another Jew whose wagon was stuck in the mud. Helping out a Jew in such a situation is a big mitzvah called 'Azov ta'azov imo', and underestimating what was involved, the wealthy businessman lent a hand. Within a very short time, not being in very good shape, he was covered from head to toe in mud and worse, had injured himself. With only a few minutes to spare he made it to synagogue, filthy and in pain.

In the meantime, his wagon driver made his arrangements, got dressed for Shabbat and came to synagogue. Getting there a bit early he began to say Psalms. He noticed the large number of poor guests there and invited them to come with him for the Shabbat meal, gathering a minyan (10) of guests.

When the prayers began and the synagogue's sextant tried to find some guests for the wealthy patron and the other townspeople, all the poor guests answered that they had already been invited. After services, the wealthy man went back to his hotel broken, physically and spiritually, while the wagon driver walked with his guests to enjoy a festive meal resplendent in the fulfillment of the commandment of taking in the needy.

After 120 years, when both were standing in front of the heavenly court, it was decreed that the driver needed to return to this world to fulfill the commandment of helping another Jew, while the wealthy man had to return because he needed to fulfill one more time the commandment of taking in needy guests.

If the wealthy man had only asked his wagon driver to help get the wagon out of the mud, the driver could have done it better and they would have been saved having to return to this world.

Each person has his mission to accomplish on his life journey. We just have to know what it is, stay focused and not inappropriately switch our mission for that of someone else. We have to look at our lives and see which mitzvahs we truly excel in fulfilling that uses our unique individual talents. This will give us a clear direction as to what our mission is. May we merit to distinguish our mission and to fulfill it in the best possible way.

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul Leiter

(for a free weekly email subscription, click here)

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