Torah Comment: Mattot-Massei

Once a month students from the Bet David Introduction to Judaism Course (ITJ) will write for the Ad Kan.

Yola Tome’s contribution: Parashat Mattot speaks of making a vow to the Lord. Whether woman or man you are bound to your vow made to the Lord. The parashat goes on to speak of the Israelites fighting against the Midianites, holding women and children captive. Moses is enraged that the women are spared. He commands the people of Israel to get rid of all women who have had intimate relations with men but to spare young women that have not. The people of Israel are to cleanse themselves and stay outside the camp for seven days, should they have taken a life or touched a corpse. The theme that stood out the most to me is that of making vows and promises. What does it mean to keep a vow or a promise – to the Lord, to oneself or to others? This boils down to the individual. To some keeping a promise may be more important than to others. We are all different but is it important to keep a promise? I would say it is very important – not only to keep a promise to the Lord and others but particularly to yourself. Self-discipline comes to mind here because if you don’t have self-discipline or even self-respect you will not deem it necessary to keep promises. For example if you promise yourself that you are going to eat healthier in an attempt to follow a healthy lifestyle, will it matter if you cheat and have a chocolate a day? Who will you be cheating – the Lord, others or yourself? From my perspective it will be that you are cheating yourself and possibly even the Lord as He wants you to be happy with your choices and cheating daily will not get you closer to your weight loss goal or to that of a healthy lifestyle.
Parashat Massei outlines the Israelites long journey to the land of Canaan. A lot of places are mentioned, among them, Mount Hor is mentioned as this is where Aaron the priest dies.
The Lord commands the Israelites to take possession of the land of Canaan as this land had been assigned to the Israelites by the Lord. The land was to be apportioned according to the tribes.
The theme for me here, is that of obeying the Lord and being rewarded for it. The Israelites went on a long journey with various challenges in their path but were rewarded by the Lord in the end by way of their own apportioned land in the land of Canaan. – Yola Tome

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