Celebrating the Spiritual Levels of Torah

Torah Portion for the week of July 13 - 19: Mattot

(Numbers 30:2 - 32:42)

Usually this parashah is joined with the next, to together conclude the Book of Numbers, and is read alone only during a leap year. Some scholars suggest that there was a time when the Book of Numbers concluded the Torah, since it concludes the long journey toward the Promised Land. Within these final portions, the focus turns to issues of dividing the Land among the twelve tribes, but there are also issues of family and religious ritual.

The parashah begins with the crucial importance of keeping one's word:

"If a man takes a vow to the Eternal pledging to do something, or swears an oath to refrain from something, he shall not desecrate his word; according to whatever comes from his mouth he shall do." (30:3)

In ancient times or modern, keeping one's pledge is crucial to relationships and to community. Our "word" expresses the agreements we make that form the basis of trust. The ways we follow our commitments and fulfill our agreements allow others to know whether they can count on us or not.

But our word is more than a marker of our integrity, our word carries the energy of Creation itself. We create worlds with our words, and need always to be careful about the words we speak -- not only in the outer world, but in the inner world. Our words create environments for ourselves and for each other.

Our tradition understands that all Creation began with words: "Let there be Light!" (Gen. 1:3) In that ancient myth, the rest of Creation unfolded from these words.

So we would be wise to choose our words carefully in our relationships with others as well as with ourselves. Our self-talk helps us define the nature of our experience in the world -- perpetuating our problems as well as supporting our evolution.

Focus Phrases

My words support the world I experience.
I practice speaking truth to myself and to others.
I am a person of my word.

Writing Prompts

When I think of times I broke my word, I realize. . .
Right now, the words I am telling myself include. . .
I put in writing now that I commit myself to. . .

“Torah is the book with no end, supporting our understanding of what it means to be a vehicle for the Spirit of Creation.”

Photo: Mark Reden