Tuesday, January 19th, 2021

From Our Archives: An Analysis of Bamidbar 32

July 6, 2010 by  
Filed under From Our Archives, New Posts

1) Relating to this week’s Torah reading, Rabbi Nathaniel Helfgot (Tradition 32:2) asked the following questions regarding chapter 32 and the story of Bnei Gad and Reuven:

The first section (32: 1-15) raises a number of points that require careful analysis. To begin with, the text emphasizes the word mikne, cattle, repeating it no less than four times in the opening verses. Moreover, the word opens the first verse and closes the fourth verse, enveloping the opening passage. Why does the Torah highlight this element? Moreover, it is remarkable that the request is made only by the tribes of Reuben and Gad (joined later by half of the tribe of Menashe); why doesn’t the area attract other tribes desirous of bountiful grazing land for their flocks? The focus on two particular tribes is especially puzzling in light of the war against Midyan, which immediately precedes our chapter. In ch. 31, the Torah describes in meticulous detail the diverse booty captured by the Benei Yisrael, much of it cattle and sheep. Were the hundreds of thousands of cattle and sheep enumerated as booty acquired exclusively by the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half of Menashe? Lastly, while Moses’ rejection of the tribes’ original request is understandable, his vehemence takes the reader aback. His harsh epithet (“tarbut anashim hataJim”) and his equation of their action with the heinous sin of the spies seem, at first blush, out of proportion. What was at stake that so raised the ire of Moses, our teacher?

Click here to read the full article, “‘Shall Your Brothers Go Into Battle While You Remain Here?’  An Analysis of Numbers 32″

2) With Rav Ovadiah Yosef in the news regarding the Immanuel controversy, take a look at his overall agenda in Jeffrey Saks’ book review of Binyamin Lau’s book on the former Sephardic chief rabbi.

- Shlomo Brody

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