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5/6 August: Parshat Mattot-Masse

Shabbat comes in 8.28 pm: goes out 9.35 pm 

rabbipaulsmlThis week’s parsha describes the record of how the Israelite tribes find themselves permanent homes in or near the Promised Land.  The tribes of Gad and Reuben wish to settle in the territory east of the Jordan River.  Their request is rejected by Moses, who accuses them of betraying the national goal of occupying and settling the Promised land.

At first, Moses compares them with the scouts who undermined the unity of the Israelites.  Moses reasons that if ten scouts could demoralize the people, then all the more so two tribes.  Finally, Gad and Reuben offer a compromise.  In return for the privilege of settling in Transjordan, they will serve as shock-troops (soldiers on the front lines of battle) for the upcoming conquest.

We might have expected all the tribes to be thrilled to finally enter the Land — but it was not so.   Moses is faced with a tough choice, but if he had required 100% conformity, he might have caused a rebellion. There are always compromised that need to be made in politics and in life — otherwise nothing would get done.

Shabbat Shalom,  Rabbi Paul Arberman 



August 4, 2016