The Torah portions of Matos and Masei are combined and read on the same Shabbos in two cases: when that Shabbos precedes the month of Menachem Av (and is thus the day during which the month is blessed), or when that Shabbos is itself the first Shabbos of Menachem Av.

Our Rabbis comment that all the Torah portions are connected to the time period during which they are read.1 It follows that the portions of Matos and Masei are connected with the month of Menachem Av.

This connection is even more germane than the link between these portions and the three-week period of quasi-mourning known as Bein HaMitzarim , when these two portions are invariably read.2

It is the Jewish custom — Jewish custom itself being considered as sacred as Torah3 — to refer to the month of Av (while blessing this new month) by the name Menachem Av.

The literal meaning of “Menachem Av ” is “Consoling the Father.” The Jewish people console their Father in Heaven, as it were. And G‑d, our Father, is in need of consolation, in light of the statement of our Sages4 that G‑d says: “Woe to the Father who exiled His children.”

The connection between Menachem Av and the Torah portions of Matos and Masei will be understood accordingly. A Jew wishes for consolation during this month. But he wants consolation not so much for himself as for his Father. This concept is stressed in the portion of Matos as well as in the portion of Masei :

The Torah portion of Matos relates how G‑d commanded Moshe to battle the Midianites, saying: “Exact the retribution of the people of Israel from the Midianites….”5 However, when Moshe relayed this command to the Jewish people he said: “…to exact the retribution of G‑d from Midian.”6 Comments the Sifri :7 Moshe said to the Jewish people: “You are not avenging flesh and blood; you are avenging He who spoke and the world came into being. ”

This theme is mirrored in the portion of Masei , when the verse states:8 “You shall not defile the land… in which I dwell; for I, G‑d, dwell among the Jewish people.” Says the Sifri :9 “Jews are loved [by G‑d]. Even when they are defiled, the Shechinah is in their midst… Jews are loved [by G‑d]; wherever they are exiled the Shechinah is with them… and when they return, the Shechinah returns with them.”

Thus, exile affects not only the Jewish people; the Shechinah , too, is in exile, as it were. The Jews’ redemption is thus a redemption for the Shechinah as well. Understandably, the redemption of the Shechinah is of greatest import. This is why Menachem Av — “Consolation of the Father” emphasizes G‑d’s consolation.

Still, we must understand why it is that Menachem Av does not mention the sons’ consolation — the consolation of the Jewish people.

This is because a Jew is rooted so deeply in G‑d that his wants, desires, state of exile, etc., are not considered his alone; if he is exiled, his Father is automatically in a state of exile, as it were. Conversely, the Father’s consolation is the consolation of His children. There can therefore be no greater consolation for the children than Menachem Av — the “Consolation of the Father.”

Based on Likkutei Sichos Vol. XXIII, pp. 214-220.