Parashat Matot Masei
Parashat Matot Masei is a double Parasha in the Diaspora. Finally after 3 months we finally are together with the Torah reading in Israel!
Parashat Matot Masei In A Nutshell:
- Laws of Oaths and vows
- The war against Midyan
- The request of Reuben and Gad
- Summary of the 40 years of wandering
- The new leaders lead the People into the Land
- The Cities of Refuge
- The request of the Children of Menashe
Parashat Matot opens with the laws of vows and promises. It is a very technical topic, however, embedded in the text is the following command. A command that is so important for us to hear, absorb and observe. The Torah teaches: (Numbers 30:3)
אִישׁ֩ כִּֽי־יִדֹּ֨ר נֶ֜דֶר לַֽיהוָ֗ה אֽוֹ־הִשָּׁ֤בַע שְׁבֻעָה֙ לֶאְסֹ֤ר אִסָּר֙ עַל־נַפְשׁ֔וֹ לֹ֥א יַחֵ֖ל דְּבָר֑וֹ כְּכָל־הַיֹּצֵ֥א מִפִּ֖יו יַעֲשֶֽׂה׃
If a man makes a vow to the LORD or takes an oath imposing an obligation on himself, he shall not break his pledge; he must carry out all that has crossed his lips.
This Torah challenges us to fulfill what we have said that we will do. Of course, this refers to the specific laws of oaths. That once we make a commitment we must fulfill it. This law extends to all areas of our lives and becomes one of the most difficult laws to keep.
The Power Of Speech.
What makes a person different from an animal? There are many distinctions, the Torah highlights one important characteristic. In the beginning of Genesis, we read of the creation of Man. The Torah states: (Genesis 2:7)
וַיִּיצֶר֩ יְהוָ֨ה אֱלֹהִ֜ים אֶת־הָֽאָדָ֗ם עָפָר֙ מִן־הָ֣אֲדָמָ֔ה וַיִּפַּ֥ח בְּאַפָּ֖יו נִשְׁמַ֣ת חַיִּ֑ים וַֽיְהִ֥י הָֽאָדָ֖ם לְנֶ֥פֶשׁ חַיָּֽה
the LORD God formed man from the dust of the earth. He blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being.
What is the meaning of the term a living being? The Aramaic translation of the Torah, Targum Onkelus– translates the phrase to mean רוח ממללא- and man became a speaking being.
The unique feature of Man is his ability to communicate. We know the principle of my word is my bond and this is what the Torah means to highlight. It is through our speech that we are known. When we promise and don’t fulfill, this leaves a terrible impression upon, not only the person who we let down but also the people who then hear about how we let them down.
We don’t realize the power of our words. The quick throw-away line, no problem I can do it. Followed by not getting it done is frustrating to those who are relying on us and to those that we have let down. How often do we say and promise to do something in the heat of the moment and then either forget or worse know that we will never be able to fulfill what we committed ourselves to do? Parashat Matot Masei forces us to be mindful of our speech.
Be The Person That Our Children Think We Are
I mentioned in an Instagram post that we need to be the person that our children think we are. Little ears are always listening and what we say has consequences. Our children mirror our actions. If we do not keep our word, they will learn from us, that their words are not important. If we don’t follow through on a promise, why should they?
The Torah and this week’s Parasha, Parashat Matot Masei, challenges us to become the best that we can be. There is no stronger message than delivering on what you have said.