Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Mattot Massei Tribes-Journeys
מטות/מסעי Mattot/Massei "Tribes- Journeys" Num.30:2-36:13
I have gotten accustomed to reading the first line of the parasha and have a good idea what the Torah is teaching in the following passages. However this time I look at the parasha Mattot/Massei, and and I was expecting a deep and meaningful teaching about tribes and something about journey. Not so at face value the first thing I see is a deep teaching about vows, and to top it off it relates to the requirements of a young female living at still with at her fathers house. Why such emphasis on the vows and on a daughter of Israel? I believe it is a fair question to be asked, particularly in our current culture that is so male dominated, why the emphasis. How the Torah views man and female and how we currently view the differences is quite something else, quite a chasm between the two. However as we know the Torah is right, the Torah is infallible, the Torah is unchangeable as it is the word of HaShem. In this case we have an account that the Torah teaches under the command of HaShem that if a unmarried daughter of Israel makes a vow and it it may be perceived by her father to be a rush vow that the father and leader of the house can override the vow at the time of the hearing of the vow.
It is very interesting that the of the two created beings it is the female that carries life, and as such HaShem goes to great length in protecting her integrity and spiritual well being. A rush vow sometimes in the heat of the moment can have detrimental consequences to our future and the rest of our lives. and given that it is the female that has such honor in carrying life in this world, that responsibility and honor needs to be protected. Ancient Jewish wisdom teaches that for that same reason it is perceived that a female has a much higher level of holiness and therefore she is not burdened with a great number of the mitzvoth required to achieve and maintain the level of purity required to approach HaShem. It has been the work of the adversary hasatan twisting and deceiving them minds of men to entrap and enslave that which He created to be the ideal helper to man. For this reason and this reason alone HaShem has taken the time and energy to instruct us to maintain to protect that which is precious to Him and to us.
It is true that in a household where mother is not happy no one is happy, and if this is so, the same applies that is she is not pure no one is, if she is not holy how can anyone in the same house hold be also holy. She is the engine room of the house, she is the instruction to the children, the voice of wisdom to the husband, and light to the house. It is therefore logical to see and understand that the following instruction regarding the single women in her fathers house, is followed by instructions to the married women and her husband. He is to be attentive to what the state of his soul mate is, how she is how she speaks and what she commits to by her own words. In this case the husband has the authority to override the vow of his wife, not because he is superior, nor because he is better and his spiritual worth is greater. The only reason is that that is what HaShem has instructed way back in the journey of his people to the promise land. Also we can see how then through out the Torah the picture is painted that the relationship between us and HaShem is the same as the relationship between a man and a woman in a marriage covenant.
There is more to this simple opening of this parasha, a vow and a word is a very serious mater that cannot be taking lightly, a full understanding of this can change one’s life. How many times have we uttered words, I will do this or that and then we get side tracked, we then rationalize it by either quoting ah well I am from here or there and that is has it always has been, where we came from, we can twist and bend the rules as we need to for what benefits us. However this is not what the Torah teaches us time and time again, we are to be true to our words whether they are vows or not. Again the wisdom of our forefathers teaches the seriousness of unfulfilled vows that early death and sickness comes as a result of uncommitted to our words (Shabbos 32b).
One can go through this double portion and ponder in the reason why two and one half tribes of the children of Israel chose not enter the promise land it was just a matter of a crossing over into the land and posses it, yet in a way they made the same mistake as lot did, they allowed their eyes to choose for them rather than take the promise. However what is most striking on the opening of this double portion is the fact that consistency purity and honesty of words and deed are at the forefront of this reading and teaching of the Torah. In here we see two things developing one is the foundation of holy and pure woman being guided and molded by her father, and the other is the continuation of that development and molding by the uplifting of the same process by her husband. It stands to reason that when a young man in a household sees how his father treats his mother and his sister, he learns the proper manner to treat his future spouse, partner and helper, that will form part of his life. One can be told what learn and how the proper behavior should be but the best lesson is the one one learns by example, this same process is what Yeshua practiced teached and commanded us to follow. Words have power and what we say have an effect in our lives immediately and into the future, so what we say and then act on makes a difference. Let HaShem and his Holy Torah be our standard by which we guide ourselves by.