CHAMISHOH MI YODEI'A - FIVE QUESTIONS ON THE WEEKLY SEDRAH - PARSHAS MASSEI 5771 - BS"D
1) Ch. 33, v. 1: "Eileh massei vnei Yisroel" - These are the travels of the bnei Yisroel - Why mention where they went in the desert?
2) Ch. 33, v. 4: "Uveiloheihem ossoh Hashem shfotim" - And in their gods Hashem carried out punishment - Why of all the happenings that took place when the bnei Yisroel left Egypt is this mentioned?
3) Ch. 33, v. 7: "Va'yisu
va'yoshov" - And THEY traveled
and HE returned - Why the change from plural to singular?
4) Ch. 33, v. 9: "Va'yisu miMoroh va'yovo'u Eilimoh" - And they traveled from Moroh and they came to Eilim - The verse does not say the common "vayisu mi
5) Ch. 35, v. 25: "V'heishivu oso ho'eidoh el ir mikloto asher nos shomoh" - And the court congregation shall return him to the city of his refuge to which he has escaped - Although there is a total of 48 cities in which one can take refuge, the Torah insists that he be sent back to the same city.
1) To show Hashem's kindness, that they didn't wander from place to place after only a short respite (Rashi)
2) To show the greatness of the bnei Yisroel who wandered from place to place at the beck and call of Hashem and that this was a sufficient merit for them to enter Eretz Yisroel (Sforno)
3) To know exactly the path they took until they entered Eretz Yisroel so that we know how to avoid the prohibition of returning to Egypt, which is limited to returning on the exact path that they took after leaving Egypt (commentators on Dvorim 17:16)
4) To show us that the bnei Yisroel made many stops and we will realize that at each place in the desolate desert they neutralized the negative powers that are inherent to an uninhabitable place. (Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh based on the Holy Zohar Shmos page 157a)
5) To show us that they came to many new places, which were no doubt replete with poisonous snakes and scorpions, and yet the bnei Yisroel were protected (Pirush Yonoson)
6) To let the world know that the bnei Yisroel were sustained in food and drink in a truly miraculous manner - Had the verses not let us know that they traveled to areas deep in the desert, one might have thought that they skirted inhabited areas and always had food and drink close at hand. (Rambam Moreh N'vuchim 3:50 brought in Ramban)
7) The names teach us that Hashem's guiding them to each place was in response to their spiritual level. If they were on their way upward, He sent them to more a comfortable location, as indicated by positive names, i.e. "Miskoh" (sweet) and "Har Shefer" (mountain of beauty). If they fell spiritually, Hashem sent them to a very inhospitable place, i.e. "Charodoh" (trembling), "Dofkoh" (banging), and "Moroh" (bitter). (Rabbeinu Bachyei)
8) To teach us what we can expect before the final redemption - It will resemble the exodus from Egypt and many bnei Yisroel will travel in the same desert, as indicated in Yechezkeil 20. (Rabbeinu Bachyei)
9) To teach us that although we will go through extreme trials and tribulations before the final redemption, it will surely come, just as the bnei Yisroel traveled to many inhospitable places before they entered Eretz Yisroel (Tzror Hamor)
10) To teach us that as much as we believe that we grasp the meaning of the Torah, it is still beyond our comprehension, just as we don't know the necessity of including the many locations in the desert that the bnei Yisroel traversed (Tzror Hamor)
11) The 42 stations in the desert allude to Hashem's Holy Name of 42 letters. We therefore do not break up the reading of the mention of these 42 places (see Mogein Avrohom O.Ch. 428:21). (Tzror Hamor)
12) So that if a person comes to any of these locations he should make the blessing "Boruch
she'ossoh laavoseinu nes bamokome ha'zeh" (Minchoh V'luloh)
Toldos Yitzchok answers that the Egyptians bewailed their dead first-born all night and only in the morning, when they engaged themselves in their burial, did they become aware of the smiting of their gods. This is because when the dead bodies were brought to the cemeteries, they first noticed this. The Egyptian gods were placed at the cemeteries.
Although this explains why this was not recorded in parshas Bo, at the time of the smiting of the first-born and the idols, nevertheless, why wasn't it mentioned in the beginning of parshas B'shalach, where the verse says, "uvnei Yisroel yotzim b'yod romoh"?
1) When they came back to pi hachiros they did so in unity, with a united heart, totally trusting Moshe. (Baal Haturim)
2) They followed Hashem's direction of travel. It is as if Hashem went there. (Yalkut Med'r'shei Teimon)
3) The cloud of glory went there. (Abarbanel)
There were seven clouds, so why is this in the single form?
4) It is the practice of the verses to begin in plural and end in singular. (Rabbeinu Myuchos)
Even though Rabbeinu Myuchos offers this novel insight, it seems to be problematic right here, as the verse does not end in the singular form. It goes on to say "va'yachaNU lifnei Migdol.
This is because they had no intention to encamp in Eilim. It was only after there miraculously appeared 12 wellsprings and 70 date trees that they decided to stop there. (Baal Haturim)
This is because we are discussing a person who killed, and as required, he immediately seeks refuge in one of these cities. He is taken to court, under guard, to be judged if his act was intentional or accidental. When he is judged to have acted unintentionally, he goes back to a city of refuge. The Torah insists that he go back to the same city so that he clear himself of the mistaken thought that he killed intentionally. If he were to go to another city of refuge, people in the earlier city of refuge might think that he was found guilty of an intentional act. He must therefore go back to the same city and clear his name, saying that the court found him guilty only of an accidental act. (Ralbag)
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