This week we read two Torah portions. The first one is called Matos (literally staff) and the second one Masai (journeys).
In Hebrew we have two words for staff, the first is “Shevet” and the second Mateh. The difference between the two is that shevet connotes a softer staff such as a branch while Mateh connotes a hard staff.
The commentaries tell us that there is a connection between the Torah portion and the time that it is read.
We are currently in the three week mourning period of the Temple. The reason for our exile is to atone for our sins and bring us to a higher spiritual level. The reason that the exile brings us to a higher level is because in the exile we are confronted with many difficulties which make it difficult to observe the Torah. In earlier times these difficulties were often physical subjugation and in our times the values of society are in conflict with the Torah. In order to continue to observe the Torah under the circumstances we have to be strong and hard and not allow the difficulties to prevent us from our observance. This then is the connection between our Torah portion which is called Matos and the three week portion mourning period.