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Insights into Parshat Masei

Updated on September 11, 2010

Summary of a Journey

Parshat Masei is from Numbers 33:1 to 36:13.

The word “Masei” means journeys. In this Parsha (Section) we are reminded of the journey of the children of Israel out of Egypt through all the lands of the wilderness. Forty years of travel though the wilderness are recalled for the reader. At first glances, it is a Parsha that is hard to read with names that are hard for us to associate with, and it seems boring because it is more like a review of pit stops on a map. However, I once heard that it would be better to view it like a slideshow. This is G-d’s slideshow to the world of a heavenly father’s journey with his family. Like a father with his family on vacation.

I have often said that HaShem (G-d) is in the details of scripture. The Almighty knows every hair on our head even when we do not. The Almighty is Omnipresent; G-d sees and knows all. I am reminded of a story of how someone is to render judgment. They should picture that there is a double edge razor sharp sword hanging over their head and it is ready to fall, and that the gates of hell are open underneath them. If they render a biased, corrupt, or unjust judgment then the sword would fall on top of them and push them into the pit of hell for them to feel judgment upon themselves.

The point is that the details matter, each and every detail that is in the written text matters. The Jewish scribes have meticulously copied scroll after scroll to make sure no change has been made to the holy words of the Torah (The five books of Moses), and this veracity is confirmed by the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Therefore, relying on this principle that every word is important, and that HaShem is in the details, I have a theory yet to be proven that the names of these places where the Jewish nation encamped were named for an incident that happened in that spot. For example, in verse 33:13 it says, “They journeyed from Ramses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month – on the day after the Passover offering – the children of Israel went forth with an upraised hand, before the eyes of all Egypt.”

This Ramses, I believe is not a city per say but a mention of the Pharaoh, whose name was Ramses. The children of Israel left from his presence, and then they encamped at Succoth. Again, I do not think that this is a place. The word Succoth is Hebrew means tabernacle, booths, in other words huts. This was probably the encampment they made after the first day of their journey. Later in verse 7, it says they encamped before Migdol. Migdol in Hebrew means a tower. In my theory they probably encamped at an old outpost on the outskirts of the Egyptian territory. I believe that each of these spots on the journey has a special story attached to it. My theory is just a novel interpretation, in which someone could write a novel.

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