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Parashat Matot / פרשת מטות

Crop of Moses Ordering the Slaughter of the Midianites by Claes Corneliszoon Moeyaert


Parashat Matot is the 42nd weekly reading in the annual Torah reading cycle, and the ninth reading of Bamidbar (“Numbers”). Matot (מַּטּוֹת) means tribes and is the fifth word of the parashah, which begins with Moshe’s (Moses’) address to the heads of the tribes of Yisrael (Israel) concerning HaShem’s instructions pertaining to vows and oaths made by men and women in Yisrael.

Parashat Matot continues with HaShem’s instructions to Moshe regarding how Yisrael is to respond to the Midyanim (Midianites) for their spiritual assault they waged on the holiness of the people of Yisrael, after which Moshe is to be gathered to his people. The parashah describes a miraculous victory, with devastating results for Midyan. We also learn of the part Bilam ben Beor (Balaam the son of Beor) played in the seduction of the daughters of Midyan, and what happened to him as a result. Moshe insists that justice is fully carried, though mercy is extended to the young women of Midyan who have never known a man. After this, the parashah relates instructions pertaining to the purification of men after they go to war, of the plunder from the battle, as well as how the plunder is distributed.

Parashat Matot concludes with the petition of the people of Reuvein (Reuben) and Gad to Moshe, Elazar, and the princes of the congregation, that they be permitted to inherit the land east of the Yardein (the Jordan), the lands formerly possessed by Sikhon (Sihon), king of the Eimori (Amorites), and Og, king of the Bashan, who were defeated when they attacked Yisrael. Reuven and Gad perceive that the lands are excellent for livestock, of which they have an abundance. The potential implications of such a request are quite serious, however, and the parashah records Moshe’s response and the subsequent agreement that is made with Reuvein, Gad, and Menasheh (Manasseh).

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Torah Portion: Numbers 30:2 – 32:42 (Hb.)

1st Aliyah: Numbers 30:2-17 (16 verses)
2nd Aliyah: Numbers 31:1-12 (12 verses)
3rd Aliyah: Numbers 31:13-24 (12 verses)
4th Aliyah: Numbers 31:25-41 (17 verses)
5th Aliyah: Numbers 31:42-54 (13 verses)
6th Aliyah: Numbers 32:1-19 (19 verses)
7th Aliyah: Numbers 32:20-42 (23 verses)
Maftir: Numbers 32:39-42 (4 verses)

Reading from the Nevi’im (Prophets):
Jeremiah 1:1 – 2:3

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1st Aliyah
Bamidbar (Numbers) 30:2-17

2 And Moshe spoke to the heads of the tribes of the Children of Yisrael, saying, ‘This is the word that HaShem has commanded:

ב וַיְדַבֵּ֤ר מֹשֶׁה֙ אֶל־רָאשֵׁ֣י הַמַּטּ֔וֹת לִבְנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל לֵאמֹ֑ר זֶ֣ה הַדָּבָ֔ר אֲשֶׁ֖ר צִוָּ֥ה יְהוָֽה׃

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