Parsha – Mas’ei

Once again Shabbat is here. All week I look forward to the Sabbath bride and the comfort of being in the peace {Shalom} of the Shabbat. For the Jewish soul was the Sabbath created, so our own creations can flourish in this world.

This week we read the story of Mas’ei, or Numbers 33:1-36:13. This happens to be the last chapter of the Book of Numbers. When we finish a book of Moshe we rise and say “Strength, Strength, may we all be strengthened”.

The Parsha starts with a recollection of the journeys of the Children of Israel through the desert. Each of the 42 encampments is listed in very vivid detail. At some of the camps there were big problems when Hashem got mad at us and rebuked us. Each of these stops is recalled by Moshe as it is written:

32:1. These are the journeys of the children of Israel who left the land of Egypt in their legions, under the charge of Moses and Aaron. 2. Moses recorded their starting points for their journeys according to the word of the Lord, and these were their journeys with their starting points. 3. They journeyed from Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month; on the day following the Passover sacrifice, the children of Israel left triumphantly before the eyes of all the Egyptians. 4. And the Egyptians were busy burying because the Lord had struck down their firstborn and had wrought vengeance against their deities. 5. The children of Israel journeyed from Rameses and camped in Succoth. 6. They journeyed from Succoth and camped in Etham, at the edge of the desert. 7. They journeyed from Etham and camped in Pi hahiroth, which faces Baal zephon. 8. They journeyed from Penei hahiroth and crossed in the midst of the sea to the desert. They walked for three days in the desert of Etham and camped in Marah. 9. They journeyed from Marah and arrived in Elim, and in Elim there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees, and they camped there. 10. They journeyed from Elim and camped by the Red Sea.

It is understood that this recollection is representative of the journeys all human souls go through in this world. Personally I can relate to this understanding because I have journeyed quite a bit in my life. The Parsha continues with the rest of the 42 stops.

Chapter 33 begins with Hashem speaking to Moshe about how they will drive out the inhabitants of Canaan who were idol worshiping barbarians. It reads:

50. The Lord spoke to Moses in the plains of Moab by the Jordan at Jericho, saying: 51. Speak to the children of Israel and say to them: When you cross the Jordan into the land of Canaan, 52. you shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, destroy all their temples, destroy their molten idols, and demolish their high places. 53. You shall clear out the Land and settle in it, for I have given you the Land to occupy it. 54. You shall give the Land as an inheritance to your families by lot; to the large, you shall give a larger inheritance and to the small you shall give a smaller inheritance; wherever the lot falls shall be his; according to the tribes of your fathers, you shall inherit. 55. But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the Land from before you, then those whom you leave over will be as spikes in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they will harass you in the land in which you settle. 56. And it will be that what I had intended to do to them, I will do to you.

As we see Hashems word was true. He said that if we did not drive out the inhabitants of the land then those who are left will harass us in the land which we inherited. If only we had done as Hashem had wished and been able to remove them from the land we would not have these bloody terrorists at our backs.

Next the Torah relates the borders of the Biblical Israel:

1. The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 2. Command the children of Israel and say to them, When you arrive in the land of Canaan, this is the land which shall fall to you as an inheritance, the land of Canaan according to its borders. 3. Your southernmost corner shall be from the desert of Zin along Edom, and the southern border shall be from the edge of the Sea of Salt [the Dead Sea] to the east. 4. The border then turns south of Maaleh Akrabim [elevation of Akrabim], passing toward Zin, and its ends shall be to the south of Kadesh barnea. Then it shall extend to Hazar addar and continue toward Azmon. 5. The border then turns from Azmon to the stream of Egypt, and its ends shall be to the sea. 6. The western border: it shall be for you the Great [Mediterranean] Sea and the border this shall be your western border. 7. This shall be your northern border: From the Great [Mediterranean] Sea turn yourselves toward Mount Hor. 8. From Mount Hor turn to the entrance of Hamath, and the ends of the border shall be toward Zedad. 9. The border shall then extend to Ziphron, and its ends shall be Hazar enan; this shall be your northern border. 10. You shall then turn yourselves toward the eastern border, from Hazar enan to Shepham. 11. The border descends from Shepham toward Riblah, to the east of Ain. Then the border descends and hits the eastern shore of Lake Kinnereth. 12. The border then continues down along the Jordan, and its ends is the Sea of Salt [the Dead Sea]; this shall be your Land according to its borders around

Then the Parsha elaborates on how the land will be divided amongst the tribes and how the Levites are to establish cities of Refuge for people who accidentally kill someone. This is very interesting:

35:6. Among the cities you shall give to the Levites, shall be six cities of refuge, which you shall provide [as places] to which a murderer can flee. In addition to them, you shall provide forty two cities. 7. All the cities you shall give to the Levites shall number forty eight cities, them with their open spaces. 8. And as for the cities that you shall give from the possession of the children of Israel, you shall take more from a larger [holding] and you shall take less from a smaller one. Each one, according to the inheritance allotted to him, shall give of his cities to the Levites. 9. The Lord spoke to Moses saying: 10. Speak to the children of Israel and say to them, When you cross the Jordan to the land of Canaan, 11. you shall designate cities for yourselves; they shall be cities of refuge for you, and a murderer who killed a person unintentionally shall flee there. 12. These cities shall serve you as a refuge from an avenger, so that the murderer shall not die until he stands in judgment before the congregation. 13. The cities that you provide shall serve as six cities of refuge for you. 14. You shall provide the three cities in trans Jordan and the three cities in the land of Canaan; they shall be cities of refuge. 15. These six cities shall be a refuge for the children of Israel and for the proselyte and resident among them, so that anyone who unintentionally kills a person can flee there. 16. If he struck him with an iron instrument and he dies, he is a murderer, and the murderer shall be put to death. 17. If he struck him with a fist sized stone which is deadly, and he dies, he is a murderer, and the murderer shall be put to death. 18. Or with a fist sized wooden instrument which is deadly,and he dies, he is a murderer, and the murderer shall be put to death. 19. The blood avenger shall kill the murderer; he may kill him when he meets him.

Then it goes on about how to judge whether he is a murderer or just guilty of manslaughter.

The Parsha concludes with the issue of Zelophehads daughers inheriting their portion of land in Eretz Yisroel.

Shabbat Shalom!

muman613

INTERESTING LINKS

Mas’ei: Zelophehad’s Legacy http://www.israelnationalnews.com/Articles/Article.aspx/8151
An Ounce of Prevention : http://torah.org/learning/olas-shabbos/5758/matos.html
Chabad Parsha In Depth : http://www.chabad.org/parshah/in-depth/default_cdo/aid/296692/jewish/In-Depth.htm

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One Response to Parsha – Mas’ei

  1. Avid Editor says:

    I think you will find this interesting: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/Flash.aspx/151138
    Rabbi Re’em Hacohen: Traffic Laws are Halacha

    (IsraelNN.com) Rabbi Re’em Hacohen, a leading educator at the Otniel Hesder Yeshiva, said Thursday that “traffic laws are halachically (Jewish law) obligatory.”

    Rabbi Hacohen made the declaration during an interview with Israel National News Radio in which he discussed a recent conference in Jerusalem on road safety. The rabbi spoke at the event about the religious community’s awareness of road safety and traffic regulations.

    “Unfortunately,” Rabbi Hacohen said, some religious Jews take very seriously the rabbinic strictures regarding eating foods, but crossing a solid line in the road to pass someone “is treated merely like a shortcut.” The leading rabbis of the generation, however, “signed a statement that violating traffic laws is a violation of the law of the Torah,” Rabbi Hacohen pointed out.

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