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Parashat Masei - 5774

My friends,

This Shabbat, we read the last Parasha in the book of Numbers. It is called Masei - Journeys. It begins with listing all of the places where the Children of Israel had stopped on their way to the Promised Land. There were 42 stations. It mentions the name of the place when they arrived there, and again when they departed from that place. This is taking place at the end of the fortieth year since the Exodus from Egypt. All the men who were twenty years old or over have died during this long journey, except for two individuals - Joshua and Caleb, the two spies who spoke well of the Promised Land.

The question is: What is the purpose of mentioning the names of the 42 stations? Most of those who are about to enter the Promised Land had not been to, and probably never had heard of, any of those places.

I believe that this portion dealing with journeys and stations is a lesson in the future history of our people. Since Israel's exile from the Promised Land, we have been on a long journey around the world. Many of the places where we had stopped were temporary, as no matter how long we lived there, there came a time of persecution, oppression and exile to another place. Moses wants the people to remember their history, where they had been and where they are headed. Our generation has been privileged to witness the end of the journey as we now have a state - the State of Israel.

Our enemies do not recognize our history, and that, throughout the Journeys, there was always a Jewish presence in Israel, and no matter where we had stopped and created a Jewish community, our eyes and hearts were always directed to Jerusalem, the destination of all our journeys. The war in Gaza and the conflict with the Palestinians is a continuation of denying our people our legitimate and historical connection to the old/new homeland.

When you read this week's Parasha and hear the names of these places - most of which have disappeared - remember the Jewish communities of the past that no longer exist, and realize that the dream of those who lived in them is a reality today - in the new Israel.

May we see our people prevail and peace come to Jerusalem.

Shabbat Shalom,