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Changing the Plan in a Holy Way

In the double portion, Matot/Mas’ei, we read how the tribes of Reuben and Gad asked Moses for permission to settle outside the Promised Land where the land was good for raising cattle. Moses is angry at their request to change direction. 

D'var Torah By: 
Finding God in a Quiet, Sacred Space
Davar Acher By: 
Rabbi Rebecca Einstein Schorr

In Matot, we read how the Gadites and Reubenites request to settle outsite the Promised Land in a place that is condusive to raising cattle. The noted commentator, Nehama Leibowitz, likens their request to a “dilemma between the choice of a career — personal advancement — or the fulfillment of a mission.” 

The Promised Land: Not So Far Off

A synagogue is, at its best, a place where each of us can feel that sense of rootedness and connectedness, a place where despite differences of age and experience; regardless of cultural background or class or sexual orientation or physical ability; whether we are "regulars" or newcomers, all of us can feel known and appreciated.

As we complete the Book of Numbers this week, we find the Israelites yearning for just such a place. Over the last eight weeks, our Torah readings have recorded the events of their 40 turbulent years in the wilderness. As we come to the last two portions of the book, Matot and Mas'ei, the Israelites are looking to come home.

D'var Torah By: 
Making Newcomers Feel Welcome, Needed, and Wanted
Davar Acher By: 
Robert E. Tornberg

I agree with Rabbi Skloot that, "A synagogue is, at its best . . . a place where each of us can feel that sense of rootedness and connectedness, a place where despite differences . . . all of us can feel known and appreciated." This resonates with my childhood memories, and I have continued to feel that way as an adult.

But, as I read those words, I became all-too-aware of childhood friends and acquaintances for whom the synagogue did not feel like a place of "rootedness and connectedness." Further, as a Jewish professional I am aware of the growing number of Jews  — the Reubenites and Gadites we might call them — who feel disaffected, disconnected, and do not see themselves as part of "the community."

Are We There Yet? The Journey from Egypt to Israel as a Metaphor for Our Lives

We now come to the end of the Book of Numbers. As this is a non-leap year, there are several portions throughout Torah that need to be paired.

D'var Torah By: 
The Significance of Forty-Two (and Other Things)
Davar Acher By: 
Kathy Barr

Forty-two, the number of places we camped in the B'midbar (the wilderness or the desert), has great significance in many aspects of our lives.

The Heart of the Matter

"Moses spoke to the heads of the Israelite tribes, saying: This is what the Eternal has commanded . . . " (Numbers 30:2)

D'var Torah By: 
Opening Our Heart to Broaden Our Perspective
Davar Acher By: 
Sharon L. Sobel

A few weeks ago, the Chicago Tribune published a small article titled "He gets How Much?

Chazak, Chazak, V’nitchazeik

Here in the week of the Fourth of July, we come to the end of this year's reading of B'midbar with a double portion, Matot/Mas-ei.

D'var Torah By: 
I Swear to God . . .
Davar Acher By: 
Valerie Cohen

Many of us struggle with the issues Rabbi Lisa Edwards addresses in her discussion of Zelophehad's daughters: Does the Torah allow for women's rights? What are the limits?

There Is Safety in Numbers: Reception History and Cities of Refuge

In Numbers 35:9-15, God commands the people to create cities of refuge in the Promised Land.

D'var Torah By: 
Living in Exile
Davar Acher By: 
James Prosnit

Professor Garroway’s exploration of the “reception history” that has evolved from the commandment in Parashat Mas’ei to establish cities of refuge calls to mind two additional Talmudic tea

Death, Thou Shalt Die

The end of the wilderness sojourn of the wandering Israelites approaches as the Book of Numbers reaches its conclusion. In Parashat Mas-ei, the Torah looks backward and ahead.

D'var Torah By: 
A Prayer for Borders
Davar Acher By: 
Barry Cohen

Discussing Israel's borders inherently brings up political and theological arguments; and the problem is that we have been arguing for millennia.

“There Is Safety in Numbers”: Reception History and Cities of Refuge

In Numbers 35:9-15, God commands the people to create cities of refuge in the Promised Land.

D'var Torah By: 
Living in Exile
Davar Acher By: 
James Prosnit

Professor Garroway's exploration of the "reception history" that has evolved from the commandment in Parashat Mas'ei to establish cities of refuge calls to mind two additional Talmudic tea

Vows that Restrict: Vows that Protect

As Numbers approaches its conclusion, Parashat Matot takes up the subject of "vows" that men or women may make and "obligations" they may assume.

D'var Torah By: 
The Scope and Nature of Obligation
Davar Acher By: 
Jack A. Luxemburg

Rather than pursue issues of gender equality and power, I suggest an alternative perspective. Incidents recorded in Matot address the scope and nature of obligation.

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