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Matot-Masay 5779

Matot-Masay (Numbers 30-36 )

by Kalman Packouz

GOOD MORNING!  Would you like to be great? Our sages tell us that if we want to be great, we should do a nightly cheshbon hanefesh, an accounting of our deeds. Before you go to bed, sit for a few minutes in the quiet and ask yourself (and answer) four questions: 1) What am I living for? 2) What did I do towards my goal today? 3) What did I do counter to my goal today? 4) What is something that is more important to live for? Do that every night before you go to sleep and you have a guarantee of making more out of your life.

There is an old witticism, "Remember, you are unique -- just like everyone else." While each and every human being is precious and special, there are inner aspirations which are common to all of us. To reach your potential -- to be all that you can be and to get the most out of life -- it is important to recognize and understand the universal needs and desires common to mankind. If you recognize that these are beliefs and values that are a part of you, then you can lead your life towards greater fulfillment by focussing on them.


The Universal Beliefs Common to Mankind

  1. We All Need Meaning. Did you ever ask yourself, "What is it all about?" "What is the point of it all?" Life is more than contentment. No one aspires to emulate a cow contented to graze and lie in the sun.
  2. We Are Not Fulfilling Our Potential. No matter what we accomplish, we feel we could do more. We feel that we have a greater potential than doing just the mundane.
  3. We All Want To Be Great. Nobody wants to be mediocre. We want to be special.
  4. We Turn To God For Help. If you turn to God in a pinch, then don't wait for the pinch. Ask yourself, "How do I develop a relationship with the Almighty?" and "What does God want me to do with my life to reach my potential?"
  5. We Want To Be Good. People are willing to die to be good. If there is something you would be willing to die for, then it is worth living for it. Figure out what you should be living for.
  6. We Feel Responsible For the World. If you ask someone, "What are you doing to stop the genocide in Africa?" he'll answer, "What can I do about it?" He won't say, "It's not my problem." Everyone knows that it's our problem. Everyone knows that we are responsible for the world and others ... we just don't know what to do or are overwhelmed by the responsibility.


Questions to Help You Get in Touch With Your Life Goals:

  1. You dreamed at 20 what you would like to do or be. Are you living that dream?
  2. What would you want said at your eulogy?
  3. Who is your hero? Why?
  4. When do you feel most meaningful?
  5. If you could make a difference, what would you do?


Combine the Universal Beliefs of Mankind and the above questions with the nightly accounting ... and you will be on your way to greatness ... and a much more meaningful life!


Torah Portion of the Week

Matos and Masei, Numbers 30:2 - 36:13

Matos 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.

* * *

Dvar Torah
from Twerski on Chumash by Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski, M.D.

The Torah states:

"These are the journeys of the Children of Israel ... Moses wrote their goings forth according to their journeys" (Numbers 33:1-2).

The Torah commentaries say that the enumeration of the journeys and encampments was to review all that had transpired during the forty years in the desert. The names listed are not necessarily the names of the places, but hints as to what the people did in those places.

A person who has a purpose and goal in life will pause every now and then to assess how much he has accomplished toward reaching his objective.

Many tzaddikim, (righteous people) did an accounting every night to see what they accomplished during that day and to correct whatever deficiencies they discovered.

So it was with Moses at the end of the forty years in the desert. The Israelites were about to enter the Holy Land and he was about to turn over the leadership to Joshua. The period of his stewardship had come to a close. It was time to see what Moses and the Israelites had achieved during the past forty years, hence the meticulous review of the journeys and encampments and what had transpired in each place.

If we are serious about achieving a goal in our lives we must periodically take inventory. What have we accomplished? How can we better use our time?


Candle Lighting Times

August 2
(or go to

Jerusalem 7:00
Guatemala 6:13 - Hong Kong 6:46 - Honolulu 6:52
J'Burg 5:24 - London 8:29 - Los Angeles 7:36
Melbourne 5:15 - Mexico City 7:54 - Miami 7:48
New York 7:52 - Singapore 6:58 - Toronto 8:21

Quote of the Week

Discipline trumps motivation!
--  Jocko Willink



In Loving Memory of

Leonard Miller

Richard & Susan Finkelstein

In Loving Memory of

Harvey Hecker
29 Tammuz

Sheila Hecker


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