TTT: Masei 5771 – July 30, 2011

July 26th, 2011 by admin | Filed under TTT.

Torah Thoughts for Today
Shabbat Masei 5771
Rabbi Mark Mallach
Temple Beth Ahm Yisrael, Springfield, NJ
Andrey Korogosky has a yahrzeit beginning this evening, Tuesday, July 26, 2011, your help to assure a minyan at 7:45 PM is NEEDED


Len will return as our prayer leader this Friday evening, July 29th, 8 PM. Len has been accompanying Cantor Nadel once a month at our Friday night services since last November on acoustic guitar. On the 29th, Len will lead our Friday night Shabbat services vocally and on his guitar. He will also be joined by a very special guest percussionist, our very own TONY RAVELO!!! In addition, besides the wonderful melodies that he has been doing with Cantor Nadel, Len will introduce some melodies from well-known Judaic composers: Shlomo Carlbach, Debbie Friedman and Shefa Gold.

There have been inquiries about the next potential congregation Israel tour, such an event depends on several factors:
1. When? Possible time-frames: February or March, 2012, Summer 2012
2. Having a nucleus of participants to make it viable – 20 adult minimum
3. Having a chairman to organize
If anyone is interested, please let me know and we can discuss the possibilities (NOTE: HAVE GOTTEN SEVERAL RESPONSES, INTEREST IS CLEARLY GROWING…)

July 30, 2011 – 28 Tammuz 5771
Annual: Numbers 33:1 – 36:13 (Etz Hayim, p. 954; Hertz p. 714)
Triennial: Numbers 33:1 – 49 (Etz Hayim, p. 954; Hertz p. 714)
Haftarah: Jeremiah 2:4-28, 3:4 (Etz Hayim p. 973, Hertz p. 725)
Summary of Parasha (Prepared by Rabbi Joseph Prouser, Baldwin, New York):
Parashat Masei begins with an extensive list detailing the Israelites’ journeys – the various stops and encampments they made as they traversed the wilderness, beginning with Ramses in Egypt and concluding at the steppes of Moab, perhaps five miles from the Jordan. The next stage of this long journey is to cross the Jordan and enter the Promised Land. On the cusp of entering Canaan, a number of critical matters are addressed. God commands Israel to expel the inhabitants of Canaan from the land and to destroy their idols and places of worship. Failure to do so, Israel is told, will result in dire consequences. The indigenous idolaters will be “stings in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall harass you.” Additional instructions are provided to effect equitable allotment of the land among the tribes and their members. The boundaries of the Promised Land are detailed, providing geographical features by which the frontiers are to be defined.
Within the Land, both towns and pasturage are to be provided the Levites, who are not otherwise granted a tribal allotment. Forty-eight such towns are to be designated, among them the six cities of refuge. These cities function to provide asylum to Israelites who unintentionally take a life, committing manslaughter. Once such a perpetrator of accidental homicide enters a city of refuge, he is safe from relatives of his victim, who might otherwise exercise the right of blood vengeance – lawfully taking the life of their loved one’s killer. The perpetrator of the manslaughter is given asylum until his lack of malice and intent is established by trial. Should he leave the city of refuge, he is vulnerable to those seeking vengeance. No monetary compensation is permitted the unintentional killer to effect release from his penal status. The “man-slayer” can be released from the city of refuge and is no longer liable to lawful vengeance only upon the death of the high priest. This of course is a period of indeterminate and unpredictable duration, perhaps dramatizing (to both society and the perpetrator) the unpredictable vagaries of the human condition that led to the accidental homicide that occasioned his legal predicament.
In addition to establishing the legal norm of trial and due process, parashat Masei also distinguishes carefully between unintended manslaughter and the heinous crime of murder, which is established by the intent, conscious action, or malice of the perpetrator. Such a criminal is not entitled to asylum and is subject to the institution of family avengers or execution. Such execution, however, can be imposed only on the strength of the testimony of two witnesses to the crime.
The parashah concludes by revisiting the case of the five daughters of Zelophehad, who, earlier, were granted inheritance rights to their father’s estate because their father left no male heirs. This precedent established this legal enfranchisement for all Israelite women in similar circumstances. Clan leaders within the tribe of Manasseh now object that the sisters, as property owners, will diminish their tribal allotment should they marry members of other Israelite tribes. At God’s instruction, Moses rules that such heiresses must marry only within their own tribe, in order to safeguard the integrity of the tribal allotments within the land of Israel. The five sisters, accordingly, marry first cousins.
The Torah is made of five books, but many scholars recognize the first four as a distinctive literary unit, even referring to this subset of the Torah as the “Tetrateuch.” By marking yet another dramatic innovation in Israelite law, the second case of Zelophehad’s daughters, with which Numbers, the fourth book, concludes, serves as an apt transition to Deuteronomy, with its sustained pattern of legal evolution and reinterpretation.

Sparks for Discussion:
Parashat Masei, and therefore the book of Numbers, concludes with the marriage of Zelophehad’s five daughters to “their father’s brothers’ sons” – that is, to their first cousins. Marriages between first cousins – as, too, between an uncle and a niece – are perfectly permissible in Jewish law, and were not only quite common but considered particularly desirable among Ashkenazi Jews throughout the European diaspora. (See BT Yevamot 62B; Rambam, Mishneh Torah Issurei Biah 2:14; Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 2:6.)
Anyone in your family history married to a 1st cousin? In our day and age, should this be still permitted? Does it lead to genetic mutations?

As always, your thoughts are welcome…

A. Monday, August 8th, 7:45 PM: Erev Tisha B`Av services
B. Thursday, August 18th, 7:45 PM: Torah on Tap
C. Saturday, August 20th, 9:30 AM:
1. Simhat Bat of Robyn Leigh Weiss
2. Auf Ruf of Richard Yablonsky & Janet Labendz

D. Friday, August 26:
1. 6:30 PM: Temple Pre-Shabbat BBQ – all are welcome – contact the temple office to RSVP:
2. Follow by twilight Kabbalat Shabbat services (dinner requires an RSVP, but you may still come to the services, figure around 7:45 PM)

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