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עשה תורתך קבע – אמור מעט ועשה הרבה

Mattot-Masei – What’s Troubling Rashi – and US —-#Torah #Mattot

Posted by rabbiart on July 14, 2009

Torah students around the world appreciate the question “What’s troubling Rashi?”. In the double reading this Shabbes there are verses that might lead us to ask each other  “are we bothered?”.

כָּל-נֵדֶר וְכָל-שְׁבֻעַת אִסָּר, לְעַנֹּת נָפֶשׁ–אִישָׁהּ יְקִימֶנּוּ, וְאִישָׁהּ יְפֵרֶנּוּ.

Every vow, and every binding oath to afflict the soul, her husband may let it stand, or her husband may make it void.

Are we troubled by the husband and the father being able to annul a woman’s vows. While understanding that it comes from another time, are we troubled its presence in our sacred text? and can we resolve our issues with it while somehow being faithful to the text?

נְקֹם, נִקְמַת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, מֵאֵת, הַמִּדְיָנִים; אַחַר, תֵּאָסֵף אֶל-עַמֶּיךָ.

Avenge the vengeance of Israel on the Midianites, afterwords you will be gathered to your people.

Are we bothered by the mass slaughter in the name of religious purity? of first the Midianite men, and then on the orders of Moshe, all the women and children?  Except for the female virgins of a certain age, of course. Or are we left once in the balance between avoiding anachronistic thinking yet still troubled on the other by its presence in our sacred text.

Are we troubled by HaShem’s commandment to drive out all the inhabitants, demolish all their high places and in general wreak havoc and destruction upon them?

וְהוֹרַשְׁתֶּם אֶת-כָּל-יֹשְׁבֵי הָאָרֶץ, מִפְּנֵיכֶם, וְאִבַּדְתֶּם, אֵת כָּל-מַשְׂכִּיֹּתָם; וְאֵת כָּל-צַלְמֵי מַסֵּכֹתָם תְּאַבֵּדוּ, וְאֵת כָּל-בָּמוֹתָם תַּשְׁמִידוּ

Drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, and destroy all their figured stones, and destroy all their molten images, and demolish all their high places.

No exactly a prescription for tolerance and peaceful co-existence, is it?

Not surprisingly, considering it is Torah, these two seemingly separate concerns have a significant common thread.

Which we will explore on Yom Hamishi

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