From The Rabbi’s Study… Shabbat July 9 and 10, 2021/29 Tammuz and 1 Av 5781
Double Torah Parshat: Matat (Numbers 30:2-32:42) and Massei (Numbers 33:1-36:13)
Haftarah: (Jeremiah 2:4-28; 3:4;4:1-2 Isaiah 66:1;66:23-24;Isaiah 66:23) Rosh Chodesh Av
This Sabbath there will be a double Torah portion because we will finish the Book of Bamidbar/Numbers which contains: 1228 verses, 36 chapters and 10 Sidrot.
Matot parsha contains the making of vows. Both men and women would take upon themselves special obligations beyond those required by the Law. The war against the Medianites, appointment of spoils of battle, and the Tribes that settled east of the Jordan River.
Massei parsha has Israel’s route from Egypt to Jordan River, Commandments for Israel’s entry into the Land of Canaan, the boundaries of the Promised Land, the cities assigned to the Levites, cities of Refuge, and the reintegration of the laws pertaining to female heirs to property.
While there are many concepts and values to drash, this Torah discussion will be on the “Cities of Refuge”. Six cities, three each side on either side of the Jordan River, were set aside in biblical times as places of asylum for persons who committed manslaughter. This provision was made to avoid unnecessary bloodshed, since Israelites at the time still practiced the primitive principle in which a kinsman of the murdered person (go’el haddam) took it upon himself to pursue and slay the murderer.
There is this notable Mitzvah that meets the requirements of two witnesses. In Numbers 35:30 we learn that the testimony of a single witness was not enough to make anyone liable to the death penalty. The reason for two witnesses is that it provides a safeguard, since one witness might have bias in the case. If two witnesses were related to each other, they were disqualified. In rabbinic times, among those excluded from giving testimony as witnesses in capital cases were women, minors, slaves, deaf mutes, professional gamblers, and everyone who knowingly transgressed the laws of the Torah or was ignorant of them. Also, in Numbers 35:31, “You shall not take a ransom for the life of a murderer who is liable for death.”
The Jewish people adhered to the Laws of the Torah and they were deeply concerned with the life of every person. To kill a person is akin to murdering generations. Therefore our laws want to make sure the person who did take a life was guilty beyond a reason of doubt. Today, Jews live with the Laws of the Torah and the laws of the country that they dwell in. Many of us had to be witnesses on a jury trial and we listened to all the evidence from both parties before giving a verdict. A person or persons lives are at stake.
Today, we hear and see people breaking the laws of our country and there seems to be no punishment. The actions of these individuals will continue since there are no consequences or punishments. While some people will say this behavior is fine, others will want to see justice for the breaking of the law. Judaism wants to make sure that society has a justice system that watches over everyone’s well being.
On another note…
Beit Chaverim’s “Breakfast with the rabbi” was wonderful. Many congregants attended.
It was nice to be with our brethren for a happy get together. We will try to schedule another one on a Wednesday morning at another venue. Society under the covid shutdown gave individuals the feels of isolation and the lack of human contact. While most of our people in Utah have received the vaccine, it is time to return to living and enjoying our lives.
Last Shabbat Zoom had issues, however we persevered and held a service.
When returning to the normal Second Friday of the month services, they will also be held in person and on Zoom. The weekly Zoom Shabbat Services will continue. Beit Chaverim has had more than a minyan each Sabbath! Kol Kavod! Wonderful to have the spiritual sacred time given to all us by HaShem/G-d to focus on prayer and peace. Great to destress, too. HE thought of our well being and created the Day of Rest/ The Sabbath!
If anyone would like to recite or sing a prayer, please contact our secretary, Ellen Nathan. This will enhance our services.
Rabbi Helene Ainbinder