General Overview: This week’s Torah reading, Matot-Massei, begins with the laws of oaths. The Israelites wage battle against Midian and the spoils are divided and tithed. The tribes of Reuven and Gad request and receive territory outside the mainland of Israel. Moshe reviews the forty years of Israelite journeys through the desert. The Torah discusses the boundaries of Israel, its division amongst the tribes, the cities which the Levites would receive, and the cities of refuge. Tzlophchad’s daughters are restricted to marrying within their own tribe.
Aliya Summary: A person who obligates him or herself with a vow is required to fulfill the vow. Under certain circumstances, a husband or father can annul vows made by his wife and daughter. The Israelites were commanded to exact revenge from the Midianites for their part in seducing Jewish men to sin (described in the end of the Torah reading of Balak, Numbers 25). A 12,000-strong army of Israelites, led by Pinchas, waged battle against Midian. All adult Midianite males were killed, along with Bilaam and Midian’s five kings. The women, children, and battle spoils were brought back to the Israelite encampment.