Student Teaching in the New Millenium

5771 Masei IV

In Midrash, Numbers, Torah on July 29, 2011 at 3:56 am

Men named ten for nine
Land given three by three
Love thy neighbor

Jeremiah 2:4 – 28, 3:4, 4:1 – 2
Numbers 34:16 – 34:29

This Aliyah deputizes ten men from the nine and a half tribes to divide the land. Rashi tells us that every prince was the administrator for his tribe, and distributed the inheritance of the tribe to the families and to the men, selecting for every one a proper portion. And what they do shall be (considered) done, as though deputies had done it (On Num. 34:17). This is all well and good for the tribes themselves. What happens when two families of different tribes are next to each other and disagree about their boundary? What defines “proper”, or “more to the more and less to the less”?

One must ask if the leaders discussed this. I think they must have, or else would there have been occasion for Joshua to reprove Ephraim and Manasseh for asking for more land and not driving all of the Canaanites from their holding (Josh. 17:18)? I think this was intended. Did it work?

What happens today when we disagree? Local officials determine property lines and zones. Courts and “chieftains” adjudicate disputes between us. Superiors collaborate to define responsibilities to minimize conflict. Multiple authorities consult when more voices are needed.

Is this free from error and abuse? Is justice in the hands of the princes or the people? What defines justice?

What does this teach us about mutual responsibility? Are we all chosen?

Final question: what does it mean three of the ten men aren’t called “prince”?


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