Parasha Talk Matot Masei Kayitz 2021
For over fifteen months, Eliot, Jeremy, and I have been meeting on Zoom each week to discuss the parashah [the weekly Torah reading] and other items of interest, and to record a podcast known as Parashah Talk. It has become one of the highlights of my week, both the opportunity to meet in friendship and the opportunity to talk Torah, one of my great loves. Week in and week out we met, sometimes on a Wednesday, sometimes on a Thursday, sometimes on another day. Finally, our respective schedules caught up with us, and a week ago Sunday we recorded two shows.
So, I do not quite remember what we talked about! Parashat Mattot-Massai [Numbers 30:2-36:13] is one of the longest readings of the year, and concludes the Book of Numbers. There is the cancellation of vows by a father or a husband for his daughter or wife, which often occasions comment in the modern world for the apparent bias/discrimination against women; there is the successful [and problematic] war against Midian after which Moshe will be gathered unto his people [the poetic image of death used often in the Bible]; there is the request by Reuven, Gad, and the half-tribe of Menashe for land on the east side of the Jordan; there is the litany of places the Israelites travelled in their 40 years of wandering; there is the division of land, both by lot and by size; there is the provision for levitical cities and the cities of asylum for the unintentional murderer; and there is the conclusion of the story about the daughters of Zelophehad.
To add to this lengthy list of topics about which we might have talked, there is the seasonal as well. This Friday is the end of the month of Tammuz, and Shabbat is the beginning of the month of Av, whose beginning marks an intensification of national mourning leading up to Tisha B’Av [the 9th of Av], commemorating the destruction of the two Temples in Jerusalem, and other catastrophes which have befallen the Jewish people. This Shabbat is also the 7th yahrtzeit of my late father, Mel Chesler, of blessed memory. You will have to actually listen to find out what we talked about! Shabbat Shalom!!