Mattot-Masei

The book of Numbers 33-3-37 lists Israel’s stopping places in the desert. According to Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, Maimonides gives two reasons why the forty two stopping places were listed.

Firstly, such geographic precision allows later generations to confirm the accuracy of a document three thousand five hundred years old.

Secondly, with all the camping places not documented, one might be left with the impression that one place was greater than the other. Each and every stage was important.

Riskin argues that during two thousand years of exile, each stop made by the Jews added to our corporate culture. These years should not be seen as a blurred nightmare of persecution but as places where we learned and taught, preserved and created, endured and were ennobled

He concludes that we must learn from our wanderings but we must also learn to stop wandering.

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