This week we read a double portion covering BaMidbar (Numbers) 30:2 - 36:13
The haftorah is Jeremiah 2:4 - 28; 3:4
If this parsha coincides with a special Shabbos we read Isaiah 66:1 - 66:24. The next time that happens will be 2021 when the parsha falls on Shabbos Rosh Hodesh. (beginning of the new month)
My translations are... well, mine. A bit modern and perhaps crass, but they get the point across I think rather well. I use Ashkenaz/Chassidiche pronunciation, so I put "s" where other people put "th" - deal with it.
This week we have vows, war and its booty, the borders of Eretz Yisroel, cities of refuge and the difference between manslaughter and murder - and what to do about it - and the inheritance of land by women as well as men.
The haftorah is a real doozy, Israel is a naughty, naughty girl.
Moshe tells the tribal leaders the laws of making a vow for men and women. Vows are made verbally, and must be completed in all mentioned details. Girls between 11 and 12 1/2 can make vows, but their fathers can annul them. Should her father hear them but not speak - they must be kept. If he throws a big hissy at her - they will not be fulfilled, but G-d will forgive her because she was obstructed. If she is engaged her oath is valid. If her father or fiance do not throw a hissy that day, it is valid. If they do - it is anulled and G-d will forgive her. The vows of widows and divorcees are always valid and must be kept. A free woman answers only to G-d, yo.
If a married woman makes a vow in their home and her husband hears and keeps silent, it must be kept. So the key here, ladies - make your vows in private. If her husband throws a hissy then then vow is anulled and she is forgiven (for being obstructed from keeping her vow). If she makes a vow of self denial her husband can agree by silence or anull in every case - but he must throw the hissy during the day of the vow being made or they are valid. That's how it works.
G-d spoke to Moshe saying: make revenge on the Midianites, then you are going to die. Moshe says we are going to war. I want 1000 troops from each tribe for the army. 12,000 men were sent along with Pinchas ben Eliezar, who was in charge of the sacred stuff and the signal trumpets.
They made a surprise attack and killed all the Midian men, including the five Midian kings - Evi, Rekem, Tzur, Chur and Reva. They also killed Balaam ben Beor. All the women and children and the animals were taken captive, and all their posessions and wealth, then they burned down their cities and forts after they took it all. Pillage, then burn - it's in the Torah. They brought all of this to Moshe, Eliezar haKohen and all the people in the western plains of Moab on the Jordan near Jericho.
Moshe and the tribal leaders went out to greet them outside the camp, but Moshe was pissed at the officers of the campaign.
"Why did you keep the women alive?" he asked. "These are the ones who were tempting our men at Balaam's command and and caused idolatry and sexy times in the Peor incident and brought a plague!" morons, ugh. "Now kill all the boys and the adult women, but you may have the girls for yourselves." (the ones not old enough to have been married off - so 12 and under.)
"And stay outside the camp for a week, anyone who killed or touched a corpse must purify himself on the 3rd and 7th days. (because of tammeh ma'at - the ritual impurity of the dead) And every garment, leather article, goat products and wood item in your posession or that of your captives must be purified as well." (Goat product means hair pins, clasps, spoons, etc made from horn or hoof)
Eliezar haKohen said, "Remember, the gold, silver, copper, iron, tin and lead that was used over a fire must be fired and purged and then sprinked with water. The rest may be immersed in a mikvah to be kosher. You must also go in the mikvah on the 7th day and then you can come back to camp."
G-d told Moshe to count all the spoils and divide them equally, half for the army and half to the community - and tax all the soldiers 1 out of 500 of the people, cattle, donkeys and sheep and give these to Eliezar haKohen as a gift to Me. From the half to the people, tax them 1 out of 50 on those and all other animals for the Levites who carry my tabernacle. Moshe and Eliazar haKohen did.
The total take of the war was: 675,000 sheep, 72,000 cattle, 61,000 donkeys and 32,000 girls. The army got 337,500 sheep, and the tax was 675, 36,000 cattle, the tax was 72, 30,500 donkey, tax 61 and 16,000 girls, tax of 32 all of which were given to Eliazar haKohen.
The community got 337,500 sheep, 36,000 cattle, 30,500 donkeys and 16,000 girls. The tax was 1 out of 50 and given to the Levites who lug around the G-d tent.
The officers approached Moshe and said, "We didn't lose a single man so we want to make an offering of thanks. Every officer who found a gold item (anklets, braclets, rings, earrings or other ornaments) wants to give in atonement." Moshe and Eliazar haKohen took all the gold. It totalled 16,750 skekels given by the officers. The regular soldiers kept their booty. All the donated gold was brought to the tabernacle as a gift to G-d.
The tribes of Reuben and Gad had a butt tonne of animals and noticed Ya'azer and Giliad were good for grazing, to the presented a request to Moshe, Eliazar haKohen and the other tribal leaders - Atarot, Divon, Ya'azer, Nimrah, Cheshbon, El'aleh, Nebo and Be'on -
"This place where we kicked the Midianite asses is good for grazing, and we have butt tonnes of animals. So we'd like this land here, rather than come across the Jordan with the rest of you."
Moshe was all,"Why should the rest of them fight while you sit here? Why are you suggesting people not enter the land we were given? This is the same crap your forefathers did when I sent them to spy on the land. They went to the Cluster Valley and then said it was too hard and no one should come. G-d was so pissed at them that no one over 20 even survived the trip here because your ancestors were chicken shits, the only exceptions were Caleb ben Yefuneh the Kenizite and Joshua ben Nun because they were true to their orders. We wandered 40 years in the desert over that crap until they all died! Now you want to pull this shit again and bring us more grief? People will turn away and we will be left in the desert! You will destroy us all!"
They replied," We'll build sheep pens and cities here for our kids, but we will volunteer as the advance guard for the rest. Since the neighbours suck, our families will stay in fortified cities, but we won't come back until everyone else is settled in the land - and we won't take any land across the Jordan, only here."
Moshe said, "Well, all right. But you have to be the advance army and cross the Jordan and fight until everyone is conquered. Then you can go home and you will be free of obligations, this will be your permanent home. But if you screw up you have sinned before G-d and your sin will be your downfall. Now build already so we can go - and keep your promise!"
"We will. Our families, property and livestock will remain here in the cities of Gilead and our SEALs will cross the Jordon and battle for G-d."
Moshe gave instructions to Eliazar haKohen, Joshua ben Nun and the tribal leaders. "If their SEALs cross the Jordan and fight with you, then once you have won give them Gilead as their permanent property. But if they don't - go ahead and give them land alongside you in Canaan."
The children of Reuben and Gad insisted, "We will fight as agreed, and we will have our permanent homes here, on this side of the Jordan."
So Moshe gave then and half of the tribe of Manasseh ben Yosef the kingdoms of Sichon (of the Amorites) and the kingdom of Og (of the Bashan) - the land along with the cities along their surrounding borders. Gad fortified Divon, Ataros, Aro'er, Atros Shofan, Ya'azer, Yagbehah, Beis Nimrah and Beis Haran into fortresses with pasture for sheep. Reuven fortified Chesbon, Lealeh, Kiryasiam, Nebo, Ba'al Meon (all renamed in Sichon's days) and Simvah and reverted them to their original names. Makhir ben Manasseh went to Gilead and captured it and expelled the Amorites there, so Moshe granted it to him. Ya'ir was a grandson of Manasseh and he conquered the villages in the area and named them Chavvos Ya'ir - Yair's Villages. Novach captured Kenas and the surrounding towns and called the area Novach. Even then we were into gated communities with fancy names. Nothing changes.
Those are the travels of the Israelites who left Egypt in tribes under Moshe and Aaron. Moshe recorded the stops along the way as follows: we left Ra'meses on the 15th of Nissan. On the day after Pesach, we left in triumph while Egypt was burying their first born, where G-d had killed them and destroyed their idols. We camped in Sukkos. (the place, not the holiday.)
We left there and camped in Elsam on the edge of the desert. We left there and returned to Freedom Valley, facing Lord of the North, camping by Tower. We then crossed the Reed Sea toward the desert and traveled three days in the Elsam desert and camped at Marah.
From there we went to Elim, an oasis with 12 springs and 70 palms and camped. From there we camped near the Reed Sea, then the Sin Desert, then Dofkah, then Alush, then Rephidim, where there was no water. Then into the Sinai Desert. After that it was Graves of Craving, Chatseros, Rismah, Rimmon Peretz, Livnah, Rissah, Kehelaseh, Mount Shefer, Charadah, Mak'helos, Tachas, Terach, Miskah, Chashmonah, Moseros, Bene Yaakan, Chor HaGidad, Yatvasah, Etzion Gever, Kadesh in the Tzin Desert and Mount Hor on the edge of Edom. (Have pity on the kids who have the travelogue as their bar mitzvah.)
Aaron climbed Mount Hor as ordered by G-d and died there on the first day of Av, in the 40th year of the exodus, he was 123 years old.
King Arad the Canaanite lived in the Negev heard we arrived at this time.
We then camped at Tzalmonah, Punon, Ovos, and the Desolate Passes on the border of Moab. From there to Divon Gad, Almon Divlasaymah and into the Avarim mountains by Nebo. From there to the West plains of Moab on the Jericho, and along the Jordan from Beis HaYeshimos to Avel Shittim on the West plains.
G-d spoke to Moshe on the West plains of Moab on the Jordan river, telling him to speak to the people and say to them, "When you cross the Jordan into Canaan, you must drive the inhabitants before you. Destroy all of their carved stones and demolish their idols and altars. Clear out the land and live in it, since I am giving it to you.
A lottery will distribute the land. Large families receive a large portion, smaller for small families. Distribute the land to the tribes and each shall have what the lottery says. If you don't drive them out, they will be thorns in your sides, causing you trouble, and I will do to you what I planned for them. Tell them this is the land, within the borders of Canaan - that is your hereditary place:
The southern area begins in the Tzin Desert along Edom and the southern border is the Dead Sea. From there the border is the pass to the south of the Akrabim Steps, toward Tzin with the southernmost point at Kadesh Barnea and then to Chatzar Adar as far as Atzmon.
From there the border turns north and follows the Egyptian Wadi, the western boundary is the Mediterranean Sea and shores. That is the western border.
Draw a line to Mount Hor, for the northern boundary, from Hor to Chamas Highway so the very edge is toward Tzedad. It extends through Zifron with the end at Chatzar Eynan. This is the northern boundary.
For the east, draw a line from Chatzar Eynan to Shefam. It runs southward from Shefam to Rivlah to the east of Eyin. Continuing south along the eastern shore of the Kinneres Sea. The boundary goes along the Jordan to the Dead Sea - these are your boundaries on all sides."
Moshe said, "This is the land to give to the nine and a half tribes to distribute through the lottery. Remember half of Mannaseh took land with Gad and Reuven on the other side of the Jordan from Jericho, to the east.
This is who shall parcel out the land: Eleazar haKohen and Joshua ben Nun. One leader from each tribe will help - these men are:
Judah - Caleb ben Yefunah
Benjamin - Elidad ben Kislon
Dan - Bukki ben Yagli
Manasseh - Chaniels ben Ephod
Ephriam - Kemuel ben Shiftan
Zebulon - Elitzafan ben Parnakh
Issachar - Paltiel ben Azzan
Asher - Achihud ben Shelomi
Naftali - Pedah'el ben Maihud
These are the guys in charge. Give the Levites cities from the holdings, including suburbs. The people live in the cities, while the suburban greenbelt is for animals, property and amenities - the suburbs will be 1000 cubits from each city wall for the Levites. Measure around each city 2000 cubits for the total suburbs with the city in the exact centre. And with the cities given to the Levites are the 6 cities of refuge, where the manslaughterer can flee - making a total of 48 cities and suburbs for the Levites.
These cities are given from the holding of the Israelites, more from the larger, less from the smaller, so each tribe given in proportion to its holding.
Now crossing into Canaan, designate refuge cities where the manslaughterer can flee, where they can take refuge from angry relatives, so they don't die before they stand trial. The number of the counting shall be 6, three on each side of the Jordan. They are for both converts and gentiles in the land, so anyone can go there.
If one purposefully kills with an iron weapon he is a murderer and should be put to death for murder. Same with a rock, or a wooden tool - if the victim dies - he is a murderer and should be put to death. After the trial the blood avenger shall kill him wherever he finds him. It also applies if the killer intentionally pushes his victim, throws something at him, or even striking with the hand - causing the victim to die. (So this means the whole image of randomly chucking stones at people is just not so - anyone chucking stones at people without a trial is a murderer if the person dies. And anyway - the death by stone is pressing, not chucking. We would shove a big ass rock onto them and crush them, not let everyone have a turn at dodgeball of death.)
In the case without intent where the victim is killed accidentally - it is not murder, there will be a trial and the court will judge between the manslaughterer and the blood avenger. The court shall protect the manslaughterer and place him in a city of refuge, where he must stay until the death of the current Kohen Gadol.
If the manslaughterer leaves the city of refuge and is caught out by the blood avenger and killed - it's not murder. So it's better to live in the city of refuge than risk it, he can return home after the Kohen Gadol dies without worry - the statute of revenge has expired. These laws apply for all generations, no matter where you live.
If anyone murders a person the murderer shall be put to death on eyewitness testimony, but more than one witness is required in death penalty cases. His freedom cannot be bought, he is to be put to death if sentenced. If a manslaughterer flees to the refuge city do not take cash to let him return home early - he must wait until the death of the Kohen Gadol. Do not murder in the land, that blood pollutes the land. It cannot be atoned for except by the blood of the murderer. Don't defile the land, I live here with you."
The leaders of Gilead, ben Makir ben Manasseh came and spoke to Moshe and the tribal leaders. "We are commanded to give land through a lottery, and also to give hereditary property of Tzelafchad our brother, to his daughters. But if they marry into another tribe, we lose land. Even in a Jubilee year, we don't get it back. This is bitchen unfair."
Moshe agrees they have a good point. "G-d says marry within your own tribe, so you don't lose any land, ladies, and you can pick who you like (within the bounds of proper choices) so you don't lose any land to another tribe. Always marry within your own tribe." Tzelafchad's daughters did exactly that.
Final aliyah: (given to the guy to read the Haftorah)
Machlah, Tirtzah, Chaglah, Milcah and No'ah married their cousins and the property stayed within the family. These are the mitzvos given through Moshe in the West plains of Moab in the Jordan by Jericho.
Listen up all the families of Israel, This is what G-d says:
"What failings did your fathers find, that they went away from me and followed vanity to worthlessness? They didn't say 'Where is the G-d who brought us from Egypt, led us through the wilderness, deserts and pits, through drought and death in a land unpassible with no people.'
I brought you to a good land, but you defiled it and made my heritage toevah. The Kohanim did not say, 'Where is G-d?' The rabbaim did not know Me, the Kings sinned. The prophets spoke with Baal and pursued garbage.
But I plead with you, your children and grandchildren - go to the isles of the Kittites, send to Kedar and ask yourself, has there ever been such a thing? Has a nation changed its ghods, even though they are not ghods? My people have traded glory for trash. Oy vey iz mir. They forsake Me the fountain and build in themselves broken cisterns.
Is Israel a servant? A slave? Why is he prey? The lions roar over him, they make the land desolate and lay the cities to waste, the children of Noph and Tachpanches feed on your heads. Nu, did you not bring this on yourselves, when I led the way for you? Nu, what do you do on the way to Egypt, drinking the waters of Shichor? Or on the way to Assyria?
Your own wickedness corrects you, your actions reprove you. Know and see the bitter thing, that you have forsaken G-d and have no fear of Him. Long ago I broke your yoke and you said,
"I will not transgress!"
But on every hill and under every tree you were a whore.
I planted a noble vine, but you have turned into a weed.
You wash and wash, but the sin clings. How can you say you have not done so. Look in your mirror and see what you have done, slut for those who ask. Cover yourself and drink!
But you say, 'There is no hope for me, I am a whore, so I must stay one.' You are ashamed from kings to beggars, calling out to rock and tree, turning away from Me.
But when you need, you still dare to call on Me.
Let them save you, for you have called on as many as your cities, Judah. Feh.
Did you not say to me, "Tattie, you are the friend of my childhood!"