TEXTURES IN TIME MATTOT MASSEY – TIFERET IN YESOD, HARMONY IN INTIMACY

Texture of Time Representation on Blue Background

The Torah reading this week is a double portion. There are seven places in the Torah in which portions are read as single portions in some years and double portions during other years. The collapsible expandable Torah portions function like a pleat in a pair of pants, expanding or contracting as needed.   The addition of a dagesh, a grammatical sign like a dot, gives these letters take on additional significance and distinct pronunciation.

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TEXTURES IN TIME, PINHAS

A Group of Women Painting Representation

This is the finale of the story that began at the end of Balak. It involves conflicts that came about when the people started to act immorally with Moabite girls. They were drawn in and worshiped their god, Ba’al Peor. Pinhas acted as a vigilante. He killed a Yisrael man and a Midianite woman who set up a sex shrine in the inner chamber of the Ohel Moed (Communion tent). The ancient Jews were concerned that public sex would undermine their culture as it spread amongst the community. This Torah portion begins with the reward offered to Pinchas, the “Brit Shalom,” Covenant of Peace.

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TEXTURES IN TIME – BALAK

Donkey in a Wooden Fence Grazing Grass

The story of how this prayer came forward reads like a fascinating fairy tale. There was an enlightened man named Bilaam, on the same level as Moshe, who lived in what is present-day Jordan. He was hired by Balak, a king of a small area of Jordan, who was afraid of or hostile to the nomadic Jewish refugees. Balak rented Bilaam’s services to curse the itinerant Jews. 

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TEXTURES IN TIME – HUKKAT, WE COUNT SH’KHINAH IN HOD (PRESENCE IN REFINEMENT)

Rod Of Asclepius By Chequer On Deviant Art

The first section of this Torah portion deals with the ashes of the Parah Adumah T’mimah, a wholesome and healthy red heifer.   The ashes are used in a ritual to support community members’ transition back into community life after coming into contact with a dead body.  The red heifer is to be sacrificed on an altar, and a piece of cedar wood, hyssop, and crimson wool are cast into the burning of the cow. Her ashes are mixed with water and sprinkled on whoever has physically touched death.

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TEXTURES IN TIME – KORAH, YESOD IN HOD, FOUNDATION IN REFINEMENT

Jewish Tree of Life Tapestry Representation

This Torah portion reports yet another uprising against Moshe. Korah envied his position and faulted Moshe and Aharon in their leadership style, suggesting they were self-appointed dictators.  He challenged them, “What right do you lord it over everyone else when the whole congregation is holy?”. Korah seemed to want a democratic, perhaps leaderless, group. He was supported by Datan and Aviram from the tribe of Reuven.

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