Below is a collection of Parashat Matot resources created by The Lookstein Center staff or contributed to the site by Jewish educators.
This is a growing collection. Check back soon or write to us at email@example.com if you didn’t find what you’re looking for.
DISCUSSION AND REFLECTION QUESTIONS
Question #1: In Parashat Matot, we read about the request of the tribes of Reuben and Gad to remain on the eastern side of the Jordan and build their homes there because they have a lot of sheep they see the land is good for grazing sheep. Moses angrily tells them they must help their brothers conquer the land. They respond that they’ll build shelters for their sheep and then cities for their children. Why do you think the leaders of the tribes of Reuben and Gad said they would take care of their sheep first? Should the needs of children always come first?
Look inside the text (Bemidbar 32:15, 24):
וַיִּגְּשׁוּ אֵלָיו וַיֹּאמְרוּ גִּדְרֹת צֹאן נִבְנֶה לְמִקְנֵנוּ פֹּה וְעָרִים לְטַפֵּנוּ – Moses corrects them and tells them the children come first!
Question #2: Parashat Matot begins with the law of nedarim, a solemn promise made before God. It is very important to keep your promises – especially when it is made in the form of a solemn promise, or neder. These types of promises are so serious that the very famous prayer of “Kol Nidrei” which is said at the beginning of the Yom Kippur holiday is all about solemn promises that a person did not keep during the year. Do you ever make a promise that you wanted to keep but couldn’t? Is it better not to make a promise and just say “you’ll try your best”?
Question #3: After the battle with Midian, Moses instructs the soldiers to split the spoils of war with the rest of the Israelites. When a team scores an important victory, how much credit should be given to the support team – the coaches, the trainers, the people doing sales and advertising, the secretaries, etc.? How about when a community or school experiences growth – should credit be given to the rabbi, the board, the teachers, the students, the parents, and the custodian? Should the gains be shared equally, and if not, how do we figure out what formula would make it fair for everyone?
Question #4: After the conquest of the eastern bank of the Jordan, two tribes request to stay behind and receive their portion of the land in the recently captured area. Moses is enraged and challenges them: “Shall your brothers go to war while you settle here?!” There are many times when we are part of a group and, along with the other members of the group, have made a commitment. Take, for example, a school sports team, a kibbutz, or a band. The departure of one or two members of the group places extra hardship on the other members. Do we have a right to pull out of communal commitments? Do we owe other people when we commit to something together?