Haftorah: Jeremiah 2:4-28, 3:4, 4:1-2
July 29, 2000 - 26 Tamuz 5760
are the journeys of the children of Israel, who went out of
Egypt by their units, by the hand of Moshe and Aharon
last few portions showed the state of the new generation’s
nation. They had the potential to be a model holy nation in
Israel. Poised and confident, they were ready to conquer
Canaan. They may have even felt superior to their fathers, who
tragically blew their own mission, filled with fear by the
sons, however, were still tainted by unconquered and
unsanctified passion and materialism—ready victims of Ms.
Midian and amber waves of Jordanian grain. They must now learn
from both their fathers’ greatness and their fathers’
failure. The higher Exodus generation could have permanently
conquered Canaan without firing a shot. Masei puts the 40 year
trek in perspective; its terse list of all 42 stations and
events will be explored, in depth and detail, in Dvarim.
commentator Vilna Gaon explains that the land was divided by
lottery into 12 equal portions, then adjusted to the size of
each tribe. If the Jews won’t drive out non-repentant
idolaters, they’ll be influenced by their animalistic
life-styles and driven from the land. The borders of Israel,
affecting many laws connected with the Land.
and Yehoshua divide the land, assisted by princes, appointed
for each tribe. The tribes must provide, proportionate to
their size, 48 Levite cities; six are cities of refuge for
those who commit manslaughter--compassionate holy Levites are
to cure their spirits there; three cities will be added in
of the six cities were in the territory of the 9½ tribes, who
got their land, in Israel proper, via lottery; the other 3
were in the territory of the other 2½ tribes, in TransJordan.
All murderers, even intentional, were sent to these cities
before standing trial.
family avenger may kill a negligent killer if he leaves the
city of refuge--the Levite city is to protect him while
reshaping his flawed personality, both a cause and a result of
the incident; he is kept from regular society until the high
priest dies. No ransom is taken for any killer, and the Temple
is no refuge.
Tzelafchad’s daughters, who earlier obtained a ruling from
Moshe permitting them to inherit their father’s land since
they had no brothers, married within their own tribe, as
ordered by Moshe, after complaints by the tribal elders that
their land would leave the tribe.
Israel leaves God, who has made them His unique people, for
meaningless substitutes (e.g. Western “culture”); they
defile the holy model land of Israel. Priests and Torah
scholars lacked the spirit of God, while punctiliously
following all details of the law; their dead knowledge
couldn’t open minds and hearts to God. Israel’s secular
leadership and prophets were also alienated from God.
to commentary on Mattot
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