This week’s Sedra begins with a discussion of nedarim – vows & oaths. While the world holds that an oral contract is "only as good as the paper it’s written on," Judaism & the Torah place great emphasis on the power of speech.
Near the end of Bamidbar, we encounter the law of the cities of refuge: three cities to the east of the Jordan and, later, three more within the land of Israel itself. There, people who had committed homicide could flee and find protection until their case was heard by a court of law.
Natural Life in the Land of Israel & the Tragedy of Galut
...Outside the Land of Israel, our engagement with the physical world comes at the expense of Torah and sanctity. We in fact see that the Torah studied in Exile shuns in an extreme manner many areas of natural life. Only when the Nation of Israel is in the Land of Israel is "normal," natural life enabled – for, in fact, even that which is material and physical is holy...
The beginning of this week's Torah portion of Matot focuses on certain important details pertaining to the laws of vows and oaths. A Torah-mandated oath is one by which one forbids himself to engage in one or more otherwise permitted activities.
This leads us to ask a very fundamental question...
The main story in this week's Torah portion is how G-d blessed Pinhas for stabbing to death two public sinners, in his zeal to protect G-d's name from desecration. This blessing is particularly noteworthy, for the Torah specifically mentions that Pinhas was the grandson of man-of-peace par excellence Aharon HaKohen. Do peace and zeal truly come together?
An artist may be able to create without knowing how to teach others how to create. That doesn't make him less of an artist. But even if an artist is not a great teacher, given a pupil of spirit, that pupil will flourish with very little instruction. Yehoshua's was like the Moon. Because he was 'a man of spirit', he shone from the inspiration of his teacher Moshe.
We generally relate to a ‘revelation of Eliyahu' as a profound moment in which Eliyahu the Prophet himself appears to us with a message. But is this really so? What is the personal and communal revelation of Eliyahu to all Jews of the world?
There’s something unusual about Parshat Balak. It’s the only parsha in the Torah where the Jewish People, the “stars of the show” seem to only have a “walk-on” part. We see Bilam and Balak close up as they plot to destroy the Jewish People, but Israel is only seen in the background – almost off-camera. Why is this?