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- Mattot - Massei
Compliments of First Fruits of Zion
reprinted by permission of FFOZ
Mattot/Massei - מטות/מסעי : “Tribes” / “Journeys”
Torah : Numbers 30:2(1)–36:13
Haftarah : Jeremiah 2:4–28, 3:4
Gospel : John 18–21
First Glimmer of Redemption
Thought for the Week:
The Torah taught us that the daughters of Zelophehad had claimed their portion of the birthright. This shows us that even before the conquest, the land of Israel was regarded as if it was already in the
possession of Israel. (B. Bava Batra 119a)
They said, “If we have found favor in your sight, let this land be given to your servants as a possession; do not take us across the Jordan.” (Numbers 32:5)
As Israel prepared to cross the Jordan to take the Promised Land, the tribes of Reuben and Gad and Manasseh petitioned Moses for the Transjordan territory of the Amorites. These were the lands taken by
Israel in the war with Sihon and Og as described in Numbers 21. Though the Transjordan land was not within the borders of the Promised Land proper, the three tribes were well pleased with the rich grazing land
of Bashan and Gilead. It was an attractive place for them to settle with their flocks.
Moses, however, was fearful that the three tribes would refuse to assist further in the conquest of the Promised Land. The tribes gave him assurances that they would cross the Jordan and fight with their
brothers before returning and permanently settling in the Transjordan.
The situation with the three tribes settling in the Transjordan can be compared to the modern state of Israel. The return of the Jewish people to the land of Israel and the formation of the modern state
certainly seems to be a fulfillment of the ancient prophecies about the end of exile and the return to the land. However, it is a bit premature. The ultimate ingathering of Israel and redemption of the land has
not occurred yet. Messiah has not yet come; neither has all Israel yet returned.
Just as the three tribes laid hold of their inheritance before Joshua had led them into the land and apportioned it out, so too the modern state of Israel has laid hold of the land before the final
redemption. This is not a bad thing, but it is important to realize that the current state of Israel is not the final fulfillment of prophecy. Instead, it is the first glimmer of that fulfillment. This fact is
acknowledged in the prayer composed by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel in which the modern state is referred to only as the “first glimmering” of the dawn of redemption. The text of that prayer, which is prayed
in synagogues all over the world today, is as follows:
Our Father Who art in Heaven, Protector and Redeemer of Israel, bless the State of Israel which marks the first glimmering of our deliverance. Shield it beneath the wings of your love; spread over it your
canopy of peace; send your light and your truth to its leaders, officers, and counselors, and direct them with your good counsel. O God, strengthen the defenders of our Holy Land; grant them salvation and
crown them with victory. Establish peace in the land, and everlasting joy for its inhabitants. Remember our brethren, the whole house of Israel, in all the lands of their dispersion. Speedily let them walk
upright to Zion, the city, to Jerusalem your dwelling place, as it is written in the Torah of your servant Moses [in Deuteronomy 30:4–5], “Even if you are dispersed in the uttermost parts of the world, from
there the LORD your God will gather and fetch you. The LORD your God will bring you into the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it.” Unite our heart to love and revere your Name, and
to observe all the precepts of your Torah. Shine forth in your glorious majesty over all the inhabitants of your world.
Let everything that breathes proclaim, “The LORD God of Israel is King; His majesty rules over all.”
Shavuah Tov! Have a Good Week!
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