Double Mitzvah – Matot Masei

Double Mitzvah Jewrotica Parsha

Written by Rabbi Rachael Bregman. Rachael Bregman is the Rabbi for Open Jewish Project which strives to enrich and invigorate young Jewish Atlanta one relationship at a time. She will soon begin serving as the first female rabbi for Temple Beth Tefiloh in Brunswick, GA. She has been ardently working to add the Jewish voice to the outcry against human trafficking and other issues concerning basic human rights.

Want to learn more? Don’t miss our interview with Rachael, who kicked off our Sex with the Rabbi series here.

For last week’s post in this series, check out Double Mitzvah – Pinhas.

Rated PGDouble Mitzvah is devoted to relationships, gender and sexuality. Often there are characters to explore, moments of intimacy or law to reach into for insight into our own lives. As we move on in the Torah from Genesis and Exodus, our most character-heavy books, we learn more laws and hear fewer tales. But the narrative of the Israelite people is always present in our Sacred texts. The mystical tradition believes the Torah is a love story between God and the Jewish People. With an eye towards the romance unfolding, let’s look to this week’s Torah reading for insight into the evolution of this timeless love story.

This week we read a double portion; both parashat Matot and parashat Masei. Within these six chapters much happens. JPS summarizes that both portions focus on the development of the community.[1] In romantic terms, this section would be centering on our maturation, the coming of age of the children of Israel. As we become adults, we go on a journey marked by many stops along the way. Each location is named. The meaning of the names give us a tremendous insight into the development and evolution taking place along the way.

We stop in Sin which is a tenon, half of a type of an architectural joint pointing to our own acknowledgement of our incompletion without our other half. We then move on to places like Dophkah [2], which means knocking like the beating of a heart or as a euphemism for sex, as in knocking boots. An essential part of the development of any passionate love affair is the beating heart, and from there, the Israelites move on to Kibroth-hattaavah, the reaching arm of passion and desire [3]. The Israelites then migrate to a place called Rimmon Perez [4]. A rimmon is a pomegranate, the symbol of fertility and Perez means to burst, as in to burst into tears or to feel a particular impulse or urge. The Israelites trucked on to Shepher [5] or improving, Charad [6] meaning fear or anxiety, and they were then off to Terach [7] or a silly old fool, followed by Mithkah [8] (sweetness) and Mesoroth [9] (sadness).

The Israelites latter stops included a climb Hor-Haggidgad [10], the mountain of great luck, which ended at the wilderness of Tzin also known as Kadesh [11] – holiness.

What a stunning journey. And on the path of love, we pass through all of these lands and many more. But what stands out as extraordinary is that the building of a great love ends at a place which is untranslatable and that place is a place of holiness.

The blessing of this week’s double portion of Matot-Masei is that the journey to true love is not an easy one. It is long and winding, but has stops along the way in magical lands and dangerous forests. But the end of the path is a sacred place of Kadesh, the place of holiness.

[1] http://www.jtsa.edu/PreBuilt/ParashahArchives/jpstext/mattot.shtml
[2] Numbers 33:12
[3] Ibid 17
[4] Ibid 19
[5] Ibid 23
[6] Ibid 24
[7] Ibid 27
[8] Ibid 28
[9] Ibid 30
[10] Ibid 32
[11] Ibid 36

Rachael Bregman will soon begin serving as the first female rabbi for Temple Beth Tefiloh in Brunswick, GA. Originally a Boston native, she currently lives in Virginia Highlands on the beltline, an urban revitalization project with her partner, Dan his daughter Alyssa and their puppy, Safi Dag.
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  • Ayo Oppenheimer

    So many types of play. R’ Rachael, thank you for bringing a little word play into our lives this week. And I dig the extensive footnotes list – hopefully many of our readers will be encouraged to check out the original sources and come up with their own insights and reflections!