For Shabbat, July 14, 2023
This Sabbath we read a double Torah portion, which depending on the lunar calendar, happens about seven times during the year. Mattot are the tribes, and Moses begins by speaking to the ‘machers’ of each tribe, providing instruction on the process of making a solemn vow. This portion also describes the Israelites’ war against the Midianite nation. The Torah sedrah concludes as Moses resolves a request by the Gadites and Reuenites for the fertile lands of Jazer and Gilead.
The second Torah portion, “Mas’ey,” recounts the forty years of journeys from the land of Egypt to the future promised land of Israel. Moses delivers instructions for conquering the land, defining its borders, and dividing it among the twelve tribes. Also we learn of the establishment of six cities of refuge, where a person accused of manslaughter may go for safety and a fair trial. The book of Numbers concludes with an additional discussion about the daughters of Zelophechad, who requested that their inheritance be honored, upon the death of their father.