Drash Cards for Mattot/Masei (5760)
by Marc Mangel
• Mattot begins with rules about vows and the conquest of Canaan but then in Ch 32, v 5: Reuben, Gad and half of Menashe don’t want to cross the Jordan.
• Moses’s reaction is anger and saying “You are just like your parents”. They respond that they will do what needs to be done.
• Ch 32, v 22 uses the words “and by Israel” — the obligation of conquest is not just to God, but to the people.
•Masei lists the 41 places of their journeys and then comes back to the conquest of Canaan; in Ch 33, v 56 we read “If you do not do it, I will do to you what I had planned to do to them”
• R. Edward Feld discusses ‘Biblical theology’ as one of reward and punishment. God depends upon peoples’ actions. The Torah has only this world; the world to come arises only around 100 BCE and is built up after the destruction of the second temple.
• Finally, I want to talk about the cities of refuge (Ch 35, v 33) in which we read “Lo Ta-cha-nee-fu”. About this word, Hirsch says ‘do not turn the land into a hypocrite’, Fox ‘do no corrupt’, the JPS, OED and Jerusalem bibles ‘do not pollute’, Rashi ‘do not bring guilt’, and Onkelos ‘do not bring into bad repute’
• So these two parshiot deal with the links between God, the people, and the land