The Weekly Torah portion in synagogues on Shabbat, Saturday, 14 Tamuz, 5774; July 12, 2014
“Moses spoke to the Lord, saying, ‘Let the Lord, Source of the breath of all flesh, appoint someone over the community . . . so that the Lord’s community may not be like sheep that have no shepherd.’” (Numbers 27:15-17.)
God announced that because Phinehas had displayed his passion for God, God granted Phinehas God’s pact of friendship and priesthood for all time. God then told Moses to attack the Midianites to repay them for their trickery luring Israelite men to worship Baal-Peor.
God instructed Moses and Eleazar to take a census of Israelite men 20 years old and up, and Moses and Eleazar ordered it done. The census showed the following populations by tribe: Reuben: 43,730; Simeon: 22,200; Gad: 40,500; Judah: 76,500; Issachar: 64,300; Zebulun: 60,500; Manasseh: 52,700; Ephraim: 32,500; Benjamin: 45,600; Dan: 64,400; Asher: 53,400; Naphtali: 45,400; totaling 601,730 in all.
The text notes parenthetically that when Korah’s band agitated against God, the earth swallowed them up with Korah, but Korah’s sons did not die. God told Moses to apportion shares of the land according to population among those counted, and by lot. The Levite men aged a month old and up amounted to 23,000, and they were not included in the regular enrollment of Israelites, as they were not to have land assigned to them. Among the persons whom Moses and Eleazar enrolled was not one of those enrolled in the first census at the wilderness of Sinai, except Caleb and Joshua.
The daughters of Zelophehad approached Moses, Eleazar, the chieftains, and the assembly at the entrance of the Tabernacle, saying that their father left no sons, and asking that they be given a land holding. Moses brought their case before God, who told him that their plea was just and instructed him to transfer their father’s share of land to them. God further instructed that if a man died without leaving a son, the Israelites were to transfer his property to his daughter, or failing a daughter to his brothers, or failing a brother to his father’s brothers, or failing brothers of his father to the nearest relative.
God told Moses to climb the heights of Abarim and view the Land of Israel, saying that when he had seen it, he would die, because he disobeyed God’s command to uphold God’s sanctity in the people’s sight when he brought water from the rock in the wilderness of Zin. Moses asked God to appoint someone over the community, so that the Israelites would not be like sheep without a shepherd. God told Moses to single out Joshua, lay his hand on him, and commission him before Eleazar and the whole community. Joshua was to present himself to Eleazar the priest, who was to seek the decision of the Urim and Thummim on whether to go out or come in.
God told Moses to command the Israelites to be punctilious in presenting the offerings due God at stated times. The text then details the offerings for regular days, the Sabbath, Rosh Chodesh, Passover, Shavuot, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, and Shmini Atzeret.
Hebrew and English Text
Hear the parshah chanted
Commentary from the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at the American Jewish University (Conservative)
Commentary from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (Conservative)
Commentary by the Conservative Yeshiva
Commentary by the Union for Reform Judaism (Reform)
Commentaries from Project Genesis (Orthodox)
Commentaries from Chabad.org (Orthodox)
Commentaries from Aish HaTorah (Orthodox)
Commentaries from the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation (Reconstructionist)
Commentaries from My Jewish Learning (trans-denominational)