Parshas Masei 2018: Stops Along The Way
The two parshas of Mattos and Masei generally fall out during the “three weeks”.
The present Hebrew month is Av. We refer to the month however, as “Menachem Av” (Menachem means to comfort) as we mourn over the many tragedies that befell our nation throughout this month and particularly on Tisha B’Av - the ninth day of the month. The last 2 weeks of the month of Tammuz (roughly) and the first nine days of Av are what we call “the three weeks”. This is a particularly sad time. In recognition of the sadness we refrain from certain activities that bring joy and induce a degree of small-scale mourning. For example, one is not supposed to cut his hair or shave, listen to music, or even to get married. The last 9 days leading up to Tisha B’Av are the most stringent.
Historically, this has been a very dark and painful time for our people. So much was lost and too many suffered.
Naturally, amidst the darkness any amount of light shines particularly bright. We can learn a valuable lesson from our parshas this week that can serve as comfort and guidance for us during this time of year.
“Aileh masei B’nai Yisrael…”
“These are the journeys of the children of Israel…”
Moshe recorded every step of the people’s travels from Mitzrayim (Egypt) to Israel (all forty years). The pasuk seems to have a total of forty two times the nation stopped and started again. Meaning forty two times they made a “pit stop”. If one would drive from New York to California and kept a log of each rest stop or station he stopped at and what he did there, that's what Moshe did with the people's journeying.
What is the meaning of this? Why do we have to know for generations where the people stopped off at?
The Hebrew word used in the parsha referring specifically to their stops is “motzeihem”. Its root is “motzei” which means “to find” or “to bring out”.
Interestingly enough, the S’fas Emes actually brings down that the people stopped a total of fifty times. He is including the time the B’nai Yisrael regressed.
Each time the people stopped they had the opportunity to reflect and to grow. Moshe brought out what they could glean at each place. To reflect and evaluate one’s situation during his journey is the lesson Moshe may have been conveying for all generations.
There are times in life when we feel we are at a loss. We become overwhelmed emotionally and feel as though the skies are dark and gray. It is specifically during those times we are supposed to remember that each step of our journey through “life” is not only meaningful but also filled with opportunity. When we use those moments for self-reflection we will find that the skies are clear and the sun is shining. This lesson may provide just that during this time of year.
Have a wonderful Shabbos and weekend!
Maverick V. Peters