Numbers 30:2 – 36:13
Matot includes the laws of making and annulling vows, the surprise attack on Midian (the ’67 War wasn’t the Jewish people’s first surprise attack!) in retribution for the devastation the Midianites wreaked upon the Jewish people, the purification after the war of people and vessels, dedicating a portion of the spoils to the communal good (perhaps the first Federation campaign), the request of the tribes of Reuben and Gad for their portion of land to be east of the Jordan river (yes, Trans-Jordan/Jordan is also part of the Biblical land of Israel). Moshe objects to the request because he thinks the tribes will not take part in the conquering of the land of Israel; the tribes clarify that they will be the advance troops in the attack and thus receive permission.
Masei includes the complete list of journeys in the desert (the name of each stop hints at a deeper meaning, a lesson learned there). God commands to drive out the land’s inhabitants, to destroy their idols and to divide the land by a lottery system. God establishes the borders of the Land of Israel. New leadership is appointed, cities of the Levites and Cities of Refuge (where an accidental murderer may seek asylum) are designated. Lastly, the laws are set forth regarding accidental and willful murder as well as inheritance laws only for that generation regarding property of a couple where each came from a different tribe.
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based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The Torah states:
“If her husband will remain silent for a complete day, then she must fulfill all of her vows or all of the bans which are upon her. He has established them because he remained silent on the day that he heard them” (Numbers 30:15).
Why is her husband’s silence considered to be agreement to her vow?
Comments the Sforno (Rabbi Ovadiah Sforno, 1475-1550): When a person has the ability to protest and remains silent, his silence is similar to verbal consent. When you do not say something to disagree, it is as if you agree with what was said or done.
This concept has many practical applications. Very often, someone might say something in your presence that is improper and you feel that you cannot really influence the person to change his mind or to stop what he is saying. Should you speak up or remain silent?
Whenever your silence can be understood by others as agreement with what was said, you have an obligation to speak the truth. This way no one will mistakenly think that you agree with what was said.
Moreover, you can never tell; perhaps you will be successful in influencing others to make positive changes. A person who is not very assertive might find this difficult. However, learn from the person who says things that should not be said. If he is able to say something that he shouldn’t, you certainly have a right to say those things that should be said. He is not afraid to say something improper, you should have the courage to speak up out of idealism!