Rabbi Hillel Skolnik’s Torah Spark for Matot-Mas’ei 5777

Rabbi Hillel Skolnik’s Torah Spark for Matot-Mas’ei 5777

Torah Spark for Parashat Matot-Mas’ei 5777
This Shabbat we read from the double portion of Matot-Mas’ei which brings to a conclusion the book of Numbers. In this extremely long double parasha, we find a recounting of the stops the Israelites made during their forty years in the desert, a few more inheritance laws and one final battle against the Midianites. What is also in this week’s reading is the instruction given to the warriors returning from battle than any soldier who slayed another human being must undergo a purification ritual before reentering the camp. On the one hand, this is not surprising because we already know that a person who comes into contact with a dead body must undergo a purification ritual. On the other hand, these were soldiers who were commanded by God to engage in this battle, yet they too must be purified. It should remind us all that even today, although soldiers no longer require a purification, the process of reentry into society is not at all as simple as it sounds and is an endeavor that takes time. We, as the civilian world, need to do a better job giving our returning warriors – the true heroes of our nation – the tools to readjust and to deal with the challenges that confront so many soldiers who have seen unspeakable things. It is our job to honor them as they return home, just as the Israelites honored their returning warriors thousands of years ago.
Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Hillel Skolnik