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Moses appointed twelve emissaries to scout out the Holy Land and return with a report. The representative for the tribe of Ephraim was Moses’ primary disciple, Joshua. Until this time, the lad’s name was Oshua. But Moses added a letter to his name and called him Joshua.
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Home » Mase'ei

Masei: Food for Thought for Your Dinner Table

Submitted by on July 27, 2008 – 3:49 amNo Comment | 2,565 views

Sunday: Forty-Two Journeys

The Torah, usually so economical with words, outlines the forty-two journeys that our ancestors made across the desert. The Baal Shem Tov taught that this enumeration illustrates that we each travel through forty-two stations during the course of our lives.

The details of these stations are known to the mystics, but one detail is plain to us all; every journey is filled with potential. Every journey contains a generic energy that can be used for either constructive or destructive purpose. How we will use a particular journey is unscripted. We use our freedom of choice to write our final script. Likutei Sichos

Monday: Passing of the Righteous

The final journey ended on the banks of the Jordan, where our people made camp from Beit Hayeshimot until the plains of Shitim. That the Jews camped at this place has allegorical meaning.

Beit Hayeshimot means the house of wailing and Avel Hashitim can be translated (non literally) as the mourning of Acacia wood. These euphemisms refer to the destruction of the ancient Temple in Jerusalem. We wail for the destruction of G-d’s house and we mourn the loss of the vessels therein that were formed from Acacia wood. The Talmud teaches that Aaron passed away several days before the people reached this particular camp and the Talmud equates the passing of a tzaddik with the destruction of the Holy Temple. The names of these two particular places indicate that our people mourned Aaron as they would the Temple itself. Kli Yakar

Tuesday: The Silent Enemy

The war of conquest included the Biblical instruction to clear the land of its inhabitants. “If you do not drive out the Inhabitants of the Land . . . they will be like pins in your eyes and thorns in your sides.” Some nations advertise their hatred of the Jews whereas others act friendly on the surface while secretly devising strategies to harm us. The former are “pins between our eyes.” The latter are “thorns in our sides.” Both of them are hurtful, the latter is just more artful than the former. Iturei Torah

Wednesday: The Leader’s Duty

A leader was appointed from every tribe who would divide the land allocated to that tribe in an equitable manner. The leader would determine the needs of every family and assign lands that provided for those needs. This demonstrates the true duty of a leader. It is not sufficient to concern oneself with the needs of the community and force the individual to sacrifice for the collective benefit. It is incumbent upon the leader to carefully consider and provide for the needs of every individual without impacting the resources available for collective needs. Likutei Sichos

Thursday: The Refuge

Six cities of refuge were designated in the land of Israel for Jews guilty of inadvertent murder. They would flee to one of these cities and remain within its boundaries until the passing of the High Priest. In addition to these six cities, inadvertent murderers could also flee to one of the forty-two cities that were allocated to the tribe of Levi, but there was a distinction between the six cities and the forty-two cities.

The forty-two cities provided refuge only if the murderer entered for the purpose of refuge whereas the six cities of refuge provided refuge even if the murderer entered inadvertently. Also, the Levites were entitled to a residence fee from the murderer for the duration of his stay. (In addition to rent that a landlord would charge for room and board) whereas refugees in the cities built for refuge, were not subjected to such fees. Talmud Makos

Friday: In all Your Dwelling Places

Of the cities of refuge the Torah states, “This statute shall be enforceable in all your dwelling places.” The cities of refuge were located in Israel, but murderers from other countries could travel to Israel for refuge. This teaches us that Jewish courts outside of Israel are authorized to try cases of capital offense. Such cases can only be tried outside of Israel when the Sanhedrin, the High Jewish court, is convened on the Temple Mount in Israel.

This explains a curious phenomenon in Jewish history. Forty years before the destruction of the Second Temple Israel was overrun by murderers, who were under Roman protection and thus beyond the jurisdiction of the Jewish courts. Rather than appear impotent before the masses the Sanhedrin elected to vacate the Temple and thus deny themselves Halachic authority to prosecute capital offenses. The question, however, remains, if the lower Jewish courts were permitted to try these cases, why did they not vacate their premises for fear of appearing impotent?

In light of our earlier explanation we understand that by vacating the Temple Mount the Sanhedrin compromised not only their own ability to prosecute capital offenses, but that of all Jewish courts, in Israel and elsewhere. Rashi and Talmud

Shabbat: Pious Women

The daughters of Tzlafchad sued for the right to inherit their father’s share in Israel, and they won. Members of their tribe counter sued out of concern that if the daughters married out of the tribe the lands would transfer out of the tribe to their husbands’ families. In response G-d instructed the Tzlafchad daughters to marry within their tribe. These women were forty years old and were not expected to give birth. The tribe’s concern was not so much with these women, but with the precedent that would be set.

The women did not marry earlier because they were pious and sought husbands of similar piety. They preferred spinsterhood over marriage to men of lower calibre. G-d’s instruction to marry “Those who are worthy in their eyes, but from among their own tribe,” was more than an instruction, it was a blessing. Indeed, the Tzalfchad daughters soon found their matches and were miraculously blessed with children. Talmud