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| Published: July 25, 2022
In this week’s reading, Massei, Moses reviews the forty years of Israelite journeys through the desert. The Torah discusses the boundaries of Israel, its division amongst the tribes, the cities which the Levites would receive, and the cities of refuge. Zelophehad‘s daughters are restricted to marrying within their own tribe.
First Aliyah: The Torah recounts the journeys of the Jews in the desert. In the first aliyah the Torah lists the first seven of the 42 journeys which took them from Egypt to the banks of the Jordan.
Second Aliyah: The rest of the journeys are enumerated.
Third Aliyah: G‑d instructs the Jewish people to eradicate all Canaan‘s inhabitants and destroy their idols after crossing the Jordan River. The borders of the land of Israel are delineated. The land was to be divided by lottery amongst the nine and a half tribes (Reuben, Gad and half of the tribe of Manasseh were going to settle on the eastern bank of the Jordan).
Fourth Aliyah: G‑d appoints a representative from each tribe to divide his tribe’s portion of land between the tribal members.
Fifth Aliyah: The Jews are commanded to provide the Levites with 48 cities where they would dwell — 42 cities plus the six cities of refuge which would be designated. Along with these cities, the Levites were given expanses surrounding the cities for their cattle.
Sixth Aliyah: The Jews are commanded to designate six cities of refuge. These cities offer refuge to a person who inadvertently kills another. The murderer must remain in the city of refuge until the death of the serving High Priest. The Jews are enjoined not to take “blood money” from a — intentional or unintentional — murderer who wishes to lighten his sentence.
Seventh Aliyah: In last week’s reading, G‑d instructed Moses to give the daughters of the deceased Zelophehad his portion in the land of Israel. The elders of Zelophehad’s tribe now protested that this would cause Zelophehad’s sons — who could possibly be of another tribe — to inherit their mother’s properties, thus possibly transferring land from the portion of their tribe to another. G‑d therefore instructs Zelophehad’s daughters to marry men from their own tribe, so the land they inherit will remain in their ancestral tribe.
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