Weekly Torah Portion: Matot-Massei (Numbers 30:2-36:13)


In Torah portion Matot, Moses describes the laws of oaths. The Israelites battle the Midianites. The tribes of Reuven and Gad request to dwell outside of the Land of Israel. Read an extensive summary on My Jewish Learning

In Massei, the last portion of the Book of Numbers, the tribes of Reuven and Gad promise to help out the other tribes while not living in the land of Israel. God tells Moses exactly where each tribe will live. God clarifies the laws of murder. The daughters of Zelophehad receive their inheritance. Read an extensive summary

Related D’var Torah

“Judaism itself, though it daily calls on us to remember our past, does not ever call on us to live in the past, but rather to live in the present and look to the future, ready and willing whenever necessary to make changes — compromises and promises — that allow us to adapt to the places we are going and the lives we want to live.” – Rabbi Lisa Edwards in 2016. Read the drash

“Do you believe in God?” – Gordon Blitz in 1999. Read the drash

“Am I “proud” to be a Jew? In general, no – no more than I am proud to be human.” – Rabbi Larry Edwards in 2012. read the full drash

“Dates on the calendar are indeed closer than they appear, but thank goodness for anniversaries and the opportunity to remind ourselves that the dates will come close and zoom by unnoticed unless we give ourselves the opportunity, the gift, of stopping to breath them in – to take them in – these days and all the people who fill them – take them in in all their glory as the gifts from God that they are.” – Rabbi Lisa Edwards in 2008. Read the full drash

Finding a way to be Jewish in a way that worked for you – Barry Wendell in 2004. Read the drash

Torah Verse of the Week*

“If a man makes a vow to God or takes an oath imposing an obligation on himself, he shall not break his pledge; he must carry out all that has crossed his lips.” (Numbers 30:3; Parashat Mattot)

Other Suggested Readings

Why such violence? What role does this story play at the end of the book of Numbers, at the end of the journey through the wilderness just as the Israelites are about to cross the Jordan and reach a place that will become home? Leah Zimmerman writes in her Experiencing Torah blog

Parashat Matot enumerates various regulations concerning the status of women’s vows. Rabbi Jacqueline Kock Ellenson writes about ‘The Vows of Women: How we can stimulate and support women to fulfill their dreams?’ read it here

“In these concluding Torah portions of the Book of Numbers, we find illustrations of the way plans can (or should) be alterable by mutual agreement.” – Rabbi Lisa’s 10 Minutes of Torah on Matot/Massei. Read it on the Reform Judaism website

Rabbi Lisa Edwards’s D’var Torah in the Jewish Journal after the domestic partnership law went into effect in California, was published in 2005 during Matot/Massei week. Read here

Khazak, Khazak V’nitkhazek. Be strong, be strong and let us strengthen one another.


*Torah Verse of the Week is chosen by the Torah class during Tuesdays’ studies with Rabbi Lisa Edwards. Check out when our next Torah Study takes place


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