Parsha Matot (Tribes) 

Numbers 30:2–32:42; Jeremiah 1:1–2:3; Matthew 23:1–39

“Moses spoke to the heads of the tribes (matot) of the people of Israel, saying, ‘This is what the LORD has commanded.  If a man vows a vow to the LORD, or swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge, he shall not break his word.  He shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.’”  (Numbers 30:1–2)

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A family portrait of a 12-year-old girl reading the Torah for the first time, accompanied by her parents.  The yad (Torah pointer) is used during readings to protect the precious parchment and handwritten text from being damaged by oils on the skin.

 Last week, in Parsha Pinchas, God instructed Moses regarding dividing the Land by lottery among the tribes of Israel.  The five daughters of Tzelafchad also successfully petitioned Moses for the portion of the land belonging to their father, who had died without male heirs.

 In this Parsha (Torah portion), Moses speaks to the heads of the tribes (matot) about the issue of vows.  In Hebrew, the word is neder (נדר ), and the English language really has no equivalent word.  This Hebrew word denotes a solemn promise to consecrate something to God or to do something in His service or honor.

 Jacob (Yaacov) made such a vow to God when he promised to give back to God a tenth (tithe) of anything God gives to him in exchange for God’s provision and protection on his journey.

 “Then Jacob made a vow [neder], saying, “If God will be with me and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the LORD shall be my God, and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house.  And of all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you.’”  (Genesis 28:20–22)

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A 12-year-old girl reads from the Torah publicly for the very first time.

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