Sunday, 31 July 2016

P. Matot: Umikneh Rav liv'nai R'uvein, Gad - So How did M'nasheh get Included?

R'uvein and Gad approached Moshe Rabbeinu requesting TransJordan. When Moshe acquiesced, he added Hatzi Shevet M'nasheh. Why?

Below is a an answer based upon the structure of the Tribes throughout Sefer Bamidbar - here is that dynamic at work

When Levi drops out of the "tribes" a shuffle occurs in Parshas Bamidbar, Nasso, B'haalot'cha. *

1. Gad is promoted to Honorary Ben Leah, camping with R'uvein and Shim'on

2. Yosef is divided into Two, Ephraim and M'nasheh to restore the number to 12

The 4 camps now are structured as follows

East - 3 from Leah
South - 2 from Leah plus Gad
West - 3 from Rachel
North - 3 from the "sh'fachot" - 1 from Zilpah, 2 from Bilhah

Levi was now in a circle inside

When R'uvein and Gad chose TransJordan, then we have

20% of Leah
25% of the Sh'fachot
0% of Rachel

To Remedy this Moshe takes 1/2 of M'nasheh which comprises about 25% of Rachel - thereby restoring a balance of Imahot. [Counting Bilhah/Zilpah as a unit]

Why M'nasheh and not Ephraim? I'm not sure - but perhaps it is since he is the b'chor and so are R'uvein and Gad.


* Note whenever Levi IS counted in the 12, Joseph is reunited.


Parsha: Matot/Maasei, "How did Hatzi Shevet Menashe Get There?"

The tribes of Gad and Reuven approach Moshe about staying in East Jordan...
- Bamidbar: 32

Question: how did the "half-tribe of Menashe" get in the picture? Why Menashe and not another tribe?

I have a surprise answer....


clear your minds.

I taught a parsha class for many years at Congregation Mt Sinai in Washington Heights. I found that many of the tribal dynamics had to do with the Matriarchs, Jacob's four wives. I don't have the time or space to explain it all now, but use that as a prism for viewing these inter-tribal dynamics. Now apply that here.
  • Reuven, one of Leah's sons.
  • Gad, one of the two maidservants' sons. (Zilpah)
Which matriarch is missing?

Now take a loot at the proportions:
Leah gave birth to six sons. However, Levi didn't receive any land,  leaving five to inherit the land of Israel. So Reuven is about 20% of of the inheriting sons of Leah. Gad is about 25% of the maidservants' children.

What's needed?  20-25% of Rachel's children. Half the tribe of Menasseh is about 12.5 to 20% depending on how you compute the population. Shevet Menasseh is much larger than either Shevet Ephraim or Shevet Benjamin.

So Moses' agenda was to assert a matriarchal balance over East-Jordan. Half (or part of) Menasseh did the trick




Look at the configuration of the tribes in pasrshiot Bamidbar and Beha'alotecha. The tribes march along according to matriarch - except one. Gad, who is promoted to replace Levi along with Reuven and Shim'on.

This model "suggests" the Torah had a matriarchal proportion re: tribe vs tribe. Since half-Menasseh seems to jump out of nowhere, I simply plugged them in. Voila! It conformed to a an existing model.



Parshah Mas'ei

Train Ride: R Eliyahu Safran
"It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end." 
~ Ernest Hemingway

Kol Tuv,