SHABBAT READINGS & COMMENTARY:
“Mattot – tribes” Numbers 30:2 till 32:42
“Massei – wanderings” Numbers 33:1 till 36:13
By: see note
Translation by Rolf Piller
Note: Michael Schneider, who writes the weekly comment to the Parasha, has been asked for duty in the Israeli army. Therefore we use today instead Ludwig Schneider‘s book “Keys to the Thora”, which leads the reader in 54 chapters through the annual cycle of the Thora readings. Ulrich Feldmann has adapted the following short excerpt. Marked quotations are from “Keys to the Thora”.
The weekly portion is with its seven chapters a double one and closes the reading of the book B‘midbar (or Numbers). In chapter 32 we see all Israel still east of the Jordan. The crossing over the Jordan and the taking of the land are soon going to take place, as the tribes of Reuben and Gad come with their demand to Moses, to grant them the land, in which they are presently, as their inheritance. They justify their request with their specialisation on breeding animals and that the Land east of the Jordan seemed to be especially suitable for.
Moses reacted with a fit of anger. He draws a parallel to the situation, as the ten spies warned from the giants and the fortified cities, and only Caleb and Joshua wanted to take the land. The result of this hesitation was the 40 years wandering through the desert – a judgment of God, for the entire generation that was freed from Egypt died in the desert. Should that perhaps be repeated, that parts of the people prefer a safe, comfortable life on green grass? Do the two tribes want to evade the fight? The representatives of the tribes conciliate, in promising, to leave only women, children and the animals behind in safe cities and with all men capable to fight to cross the Jordan, till the entire land is taken.
“The Midrash Rabba says: Three divine gifts are given to the world: wisdom, valour and wealth. Are these gifts not by God, then they will not last.” Reuben and Gad carried out with their wealth in view inwardly a separation from their brothers, which carried out later (see 1.Chron 5:25) also outwardly. How have we to evaluate the attitude of European and American Jews? Is it not many times their material wealth, which keeps them from making Aliyah (to immigrate)? “Those, who want to immigrate to Israel, but can‘t, can be helped. But those who can and don‘t want to, those can‘t be helped. As long as they were forced into exile, they could fend of the influence of the heathen environment. But from the moment on, as they decide by their free choice to remain in exile, assimilation starts to dig on them; Mixed marriages and foreign cults detach them from their people and their faith.”
The Shoah started from Germany, a country, whose Jews had reached a level of assimilation, like nowhere else. “Theodore Herzl‘s programmatic thesis, “The Jewish State” was first published in German, therefore the German Jews were the first to be confronted with the idea of Zionism – but they didn‘t want, their career and their wealth was more important to them as the return to the Holy Land.”
Chapter 33 recaptures the stations of the desert wandering, mentions the death of Aaron and closes with the divine order, to disperse all inhabitants of the land Canaan and to destroy the relicts of foreign cults completely. It is promised, that remnants will become a thorn in the eye. These prophecies have been confirmed as one can see to this day.
Chapter 34 draws the borders of Israel and calls the tribal leaders called by God, who are to assist in dividing the country. “With the words of Moses THIS IS THE LAND begins the reality. … For some Israel is monster, discriminating minorities, for others it is a court to heaven. Both are not the reality. Therefore it is important, to have about Israel not inspirations, but information‘s. This is the country! There is no other Israel existing.”
With regard to the prophetic portion this week one can draw an interesting parallel: Exactly now, in this week, in which Israel was “kidnapped” to the war in the north with Hezbollah, stands written in the prophetic portion of Jeremiah 1: “Out of the north an evil shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land.” (Verse 14). Interesting and certainly no coincidence.