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Sandro Rosell
FC Barcelona President
Monday, August 21, 2017

PARSHAS MATTOS - TORAH VALUES

In this week’s parsha, we are reminded of the timeless values which have distinguished our people throughout the centuries. As the parsha opens, Moshe commands the leaders of the tribes, and through them, the entire nation regarding the sanctity of vows and the tragic consequences of not keeping one’s word, which the Torah regards as a desecration (Numbers 30:3).

Our entire faith is linked to the sanctity of speech. It is through speech that we committed ourselves to an eternal covenant with G-d when we proclaimed “Na’aseh v’nsihma” - “We shall do it and we shall study it.” It is through speech, prayer and Torah study that we continue to connect with our G-d. It is through speech that we give expression to the Divine spark that G-d breathes into our beings; it is through speech that G-d created the world and it is through speech that we, in our own human fashion send forth positive or negative energies - “Life and death are in the tongue.”

We have fourteen positive and seventeen negative commandments, all centering around speech. To protect us from using our tongues irresponsibly, G-d places them behind two gates - our teeth and our lips, so before we speak, let us weigh and measure our words carefully, for once they are spoken, we cannot undo the damage that has been wrought - broken promises, curses, hurtful and blasphemous words cannot be easily erased.

PARSHAS MASEI – JOURNEYS

Parshas Masei always coincides with this season of deep sorrow, and here too, we find hope and consolation. The parsha describes “the journeys” of our forefathers through the desert on their way to Eretz Yisrael, teaching us that there is a personal and national reason for our exile. Our life journeys will lead us to our ultimate destination - there are no random happenings, nothing occurs by happenstance. G-d is mindful of our every step, of every tear that we shed. There is a purpose to our wanderings, even if we don’t understand it, and that too is a test of faith. Thus, the Torah reader chants this parsha to a special tune, so that we may be ever mindful that we are never alone on our journey. G-d is leading us.

Toward the end of the parsha, Moshe Rabbenu apportions the land among the Tribes in accordance to a “goral” which means our lot, our destiny, (Numbers, 33:13). Here again we are energized with hope. There is no force that can separate the Jewish people from their land; it is our G-d-given destiny.

Moshe also instructs the nation in regard to the establishment of six “oray miklot” - cities of refuge (Numbers, 35:10) - three on each side of the Jordan River. These cities, which belonged to the Levites, were to provide sanctuary to those who were guilty of accidental murder. While their crimes may have been unintentional, nevertheless blood was spilled, and the perpetrator could not simply return to normal life....spiritual rehabilitation was required. Additionally, the guilty party needed protection from the vengeful family members of his victim.

From this we learn that HaShem worries about each and every one of us - so we should never feel that we have been rejected or abandoned by G-d or that we are beyond redemption. In the Torah, there is an oray miklot - a place of refuge for everyone. Now if G-d has commanded us to make such provisions for those who committed a crime, albeit unintentional, then we too must extend love and concern for each and every person, even to those whom we consider beneath us. In our society, all too often we only wish to be associated with “Winners” and reject those who need us the most. In this nine day period, let us merit HaShem’s mercy by being merciful to one another.

By: Rabbi Osher Jungreis
(Hineni.org)