In this week’s Torah portion, Matot- Masey we close the book of Numbers. The words: Matot-Masey, mean “tribes-journeys.”
At the end of the portion two of the 12 tribes, tell Moses that they would like to stay outside of the Promised Land. The tribes of Gad and Reuben felt that the luscious land outside of the Promised Land was their inheritance. Moses was upset by this request. He felt that these two tribes were not going to fight alongside the other tribes in the land of Israel. Moses felt the land of Israel was their inheritance and thus their heart should be in this place.
These two tribes respond to Moses by saying they will fight alongside their brothers and sisters, it’s just that they felt that they belonged to the land outside of Israel because of what the land represented to them and how they felt in that place. That land was a place where their cattle flourished and their families felt at home.
Once Moses understood that they were staying outside the land of Israel because they had a spiritual calling in that place, he felt that they were making this decision out of love rather than making a decision out of fear.
This portion reminds us that no matter where we stand, either outside or inside the land of Israel, the Promised Land, it is more important that we stand together as a family and as a people. Sometimes our places of belonging could be a place that means so much to us. We are certainly seeing people returning to our building for services, and children are returning to the preschool. Some people are continuing to find their connection to our synagogue through our virtual programming.
While, I wish everyone felt connected in every area of our synagogue, just like the tribes of Israel, we put down our flags in different places and we certainly have many pathways for a sense of belonging. Some of us find our spirituality tutoring at Lowell Elementary School and volunteering for HaMotzi, while some of us find our home singing in our choir, worshiping in our sanctuary, and in our Torah study by zoom.
As we close the book of Numbers, let us be thankful for all the ways we can connect to each other. We have learned through the pandemic that it is less important where we are as long as we are together feeling a sense of belonging, loving each other, and feeling as one.
Cantor Amy E. Levy