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  • Matot 2014

    Parshat Mattot begins with sexism, continues with genocide and ends with materialism. It is indeed a difficult and painful sidra. 

    So, how can we meaningfully engage with such indigestible texts that contradict our contemporary notions of justice?

    Some commentators evade, whitewash or ignore these difficulties and focus only on texts that uphold their own values. But when we avoid difficulties and complexity and strive for a simplified, black-and-white understanding of reality, we erode the possibility of shalom, peace. What does this mean?

  • Matot 5772

    The meaning of the name of today's first Sidra is TRIBES. Its first sentence tells us that Moses addressed this chapter to the heads of the tribes.  It may seem surprising that this Sidra starts at verse two in chapter 30 of the book of Numbers. Surely, we might have expected the Sidra to start in verse one. The reason is that the chapter divisions in the Bible are of Christian origin and are, therefore, sometimes, at odds with our own traditional divisions.

  • Mattot 2007


    In parashat Matot, we once again encounter an exhaustive list of seemingly trivial statistics. The Torah extensively details the spoils captured in the war against Midian, and then computes for us precisely how these spoils were divided. However, we are given no more than a hint as to why these statistics are important enough to have been included in the Torah. In order to understand this hint, let us take a closer look at the battle with Midian. For much of what follows I am indebted to an essay by Rabbi Nathaniel Helfgot on the Yeshivat Har Ezion website.

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