Tuesday, July 10, 2007

posts so far for parshat Matot/Masei

  • Halachic Ramifications of the Number of Israelite Warriors
    • A discussion in Eruvin about the minimum size of an encampment of Jewish soldiers, in which five normal halachic obligations are waived. One suggestion, 12,000, is based on the size of the force which attacked Midian in parshat Matot.
  • Tevilat Kelim
    • A novel analysis of the psukim, the gemara, Ramban, and Rashi, on the subject of immersing certain acquired vessels. This post defies easy summary, so check it out inside!
  • More On Tevilat Kelim
    • Heh. Check out this post, which shows that not only Jews practice tevilat keilim.
  • Did Pinchas Act On His Own Initiative? (related to parshat Balak and Pinchas as well)
    • First, dismiss as anachronistic and silly the idea that the brit shalom that Pinchas received was a cure for fanaticism, and that Hashem disliked Pinchas' action, by noting that in this incident, Hashem killed 24,000 in a plague, that Moshe called for the execution of the leaders of those who had joined Baal Peor, and that in a subsequent episode, Pinchas is called upon to join battle with the Midianites.
      However, if one desires to mitigate the zealousness, one can point out that according to the traditional, midrashic interpretation (advanced by Rashi), Moshe and the judges were unsure of how to act in Zimri's case, Pinchas recalled the halacha, reminded Moshe, and Moshe told him to carry it out. And so, Pinchas executed a command from the leader of the Israelites, and did not simply act on his own (though the halacha he recalled was that zealots may act on their own in such a case.)
      From a pshat perspective, one might posit that Pinchas did not act on his own at all. The previous verse contains a command to kill the leaders of those who had joined Baal Peor, and we know from earlier and elsewhere that the harlotry led into joining Baal Peor, and so Zimri fit this command. Further, Pinchas' action stops Hashem's anger (manifested in the plague), and Hashem told Moshe the killing of those involved would turn aside His anger.
  • Midianites or Moabites? (related to parshat Balak and Pinchas as well)
    • Considers that the beginning of the Baal Peor episode involved daughters of Moab, while subsequently, Kozbi was a Midianite, they are told to take revenge on the Midianites, and in parshat Matot, they fight a war against Midianites, and Moshe is upset that they did not kill the Midianite women who enticed them in the first place.
      Notes the Midianite role in consulting with Bilaam in the first place, in parshat Balak; notes that Midian at points seemed to hold land of Moav; notes Balak himself may have been a prince of Moav. Suggests that the elite of the Israelites slept with the nobles of the area, who were Midianites, while commoners slept with the commoners, who were Moabites; that it was Moabite land under rule of Midian; that there were both Moabites and Midianites present; and that Moav was protected as the result of Divine command.
  • First to the Leaders
    • The first pasuk is taken midrashically to mean that first the leaders and then the general populace were informed of the command. Explains how this is evident in a particular parsing of the verse (advanced by Mizrachi): "And Moses spoke unto the heads of the tribes and to {rather than of} the children of Israel, saying..." and demonstrates how the trup is consistent with this reading, and not with the typical pshat reading.
  • Haftarat Matot = Yirmiyahu 1:
    • Yerushalmi Gittin #1: Jewish Geography?
      • Which way is Bavel? The gemara says East, but Yirmiyahu appears to say North, an issue which bothered the meforshim. An attempted resolution - perhaps Yirmiyahu is talking about a failed attack which we know happened shortly after his prophecy, and his prophecy explicitly makes mention of the fact that it will fail.
    • Yirmiyahu: Baby-Faced Prophet?
      • In which I consider a possible neo-midrashic interpretation of הִנֵּה לֹא-יָדַעְתִּי, דַּבֵּר כִּי-נַעַר, אָנֹכִי as Yirmiyahu literally being unable to speak because he is an infant. Speculations that this was used as a basis for Jesus and, in turn, for Ben Sira and Merlin.
  • No Punishment For Cursing? And Excusing The Woman Who Vows
    • A post on Emor, about the blasphemer, in which I digress to discuss the laws in Matot, and how a husband may nullify his wife's vows. I suggest that וְנָשָׂא אֶת-עֲו‍ֹנָהּ may be read not only as "he (=her husband) shall bear her sin," but also "He (=Hashem) shall bear her sin," or "her sin shall be borne." An analysis by considering the various sections in the parsha.
  • Bilaam the Flying Soothsayer
    • the derivation of the midrash that Bilaam flew and that Pinchas used the tzitz to bring Bilaam back to earth.
  • Pinchas the Flying Priest
    • in which Pinchas also flies. the midrashic derivation of that, as well as the derivation of an extended Arami Oved Avi midrash in Tg Yonatan, where Bilaam's misdeeds are more numerous.
to be continued...

to be continued...

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