Sedra of the week: Mattot-Masei 

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Sedra of the week: Mattot-Masei 

Rabbi Jonny Roodyn looks ahead to this week's portion of the Torah

The book of Bamidbar draws to a close with a bumper double sedra, the longest weekly Torah reading with 244 verses.

These sedras are an appendix of sorts, or a form of bridge connecting the laws and stories of Bamidbar with Moses’ farewell speech of Devarim.

Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch explains that after all the objective laws in the past two books, the Torah now empowers the individual to impose additional mitzvot upon him or herself. This section was specifically addressed to the heads of the tribes (called mattot). A matteh is a branch of a bigger whole and sees itself both as a distinct entity and part of the wider whole at the same time.

The method by which the Torah allows individuals or even communities to create their own boundaries is through vows and other solemn promises. In Hebrew, davar means word as well as “thing”. This is because in Jewish thought and law, a word is real, it is actually a thing!

The message here is clear – relationships and society are built on taking people at their word. A word ought to be a commitment, a badge of pride. We live in a world where words are cheap, where (if we can get there quick enough) we can delete social media posts and hope and that no one has read them yet (or worse still, taken a screenshot!).

Especially during the days leading up to Tisha B’Av, let us realise the power of our words and use them to build rather than destroy, to draw close rather than to create distance.

  •  Rabbi Jonny Roodyn is education director of Jewish Futures Trust
Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish News also produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: