Before we get to Parshas Masei, which we will read this coming shabbis as a standalone without its sister parsha of Matos which we read last week, an opening thought please. It’s painful to hear, read and watch all that is going on over in Israel without being affected. War is raging; Chamas is trying to destroy us. Every human being should be feeling this same pain. One cannot negotiate with killers. Israel is under attack from a bunch of barbarians who place no value on human life; they care only about destruction and chaos.
Interestingly enough, it’s in this week’s parsha of Masei where the RBSO will command the Yiddin to take control of Canaan, now known as Israel, and sets its borders. How ironic that we are again fighting to maintain them. More on that below. Masei recounts the journeys of the Yiddin (masei b’nei yisroel) from Mitzrayim, all the way to the Promised Land. A short journey was extended to a full 40 years seemingly because of the sin of ten (out of 12) miraglim who bad mouthed the land and scared others; a lot happened along the way.
Shoin, 40 years of valgering and traveling through the midbar are coming to an end. The Yiddin are encamped on the eastern border of the land of Canaan. Moishe’s passport and visa have long been voided; he will be unable to enter the land. Ober this group of Yiddin, the second generation or what’s left of them after a few last minute shenanigans which angered the RBSO, will shortly be entering, waging war on, and conquering the land. That is what the RBSO said to do.
Typically we read Masei along with its sister parsha ober not this year. In fact, Matos/Masei are coupled up more often than any other parsha combination. Time and space permitting, we’ll discuss why. It’s not a short answer; telling you why would take 5 pages to explain. Veyter:
Following the listing of the major stops and way stations along their journey, Moishe provides the Yiddin with detailed instructions on conquering the land. The borders are delineated and divided among the heylige Shevotim. The Toirah given borders included all of Israel and the land given to the 2 ½ shevotim (Reuvain, Gad and ½ of Mensashe). More on the borders soon.
And here we are in 2014. Once again, the Yiddin over in Israel find themselves engaged in a war to protect its borders and maybe also its very existence. Hopefully the RBSO will help guide today’s leaders as he did Moishe and also help guide the tens of thousands whose lives are at risk. We must defeat Hamas and Hezbollah!
Long before kosher traveling camps like Achva, Sulam, Kanfei and others came into existence, the Yiddin, under the tutelage of Moishe Rabaynu, who was mistama the first ever camp director/head counselor, camped out for 40 years. They travelled quite bit. Innovators for their time, our ancestors were the first ever traveling camp and were mistama the forerunners of this model. Their camp, co-ed, included bonfires, treasure hunts, bonfires, color war and even a few night activities, if you chap. A few weeks back we learned that some of the Yiddin (24,000) participated in a raid on Moabite girls’ campus, if you chap. Camp Seneca Lake would not have allowed this to happen. During that time they pitched their tents, among other things, if you chap, in 42 different places, each one delineated by name in the parsha.
Ober before we start, efsher you noticed a picture of the Oisvorfer standing alongside Judge Dan Butler. What’s he doing in the picture and why is he being discussed this week? Nu………..since you asked………….
Long before Dan Butler even imagined that he would become an attorney, then judge and now a highly sought after motivational speaker, back in1969 he was but a senior in the yeshiva known only as Scranton. Avada it had a full Hebrew name but in the yeshivashe velt, it was
known simply as Scranton, one of several yeshivas that were started by enterprising Lakewood graduates.
And it so happened that in that same year, 1969, the Oisvorfer was there as a freshman in high school. That’s the background. And why is this story being told today in 2014? Nu, it so happens that since that time, kimat 45 years, the Oisvorfer has never again seen or spoken to
Dan aka: Danny Butler until this past Sunday when they met over at Camp HASC and spoke for the first time since.
The Oisvorfer reminded Danny that long before he became a motivational speaker who flies around the globe, he left his first indelible impression on a young, impressionable and very vulnerable budding high-schooler. That was me!
Living in the yeshiva dorm surrounded by so many males it was refreshing when one fine day, just around the corner from the Yeshiva, the Oisvorfer met and engaged a nice young lady by the name of Mindy in conversation. Oy, what a treat it was to see and talk to a girl. Shoin, not even 10 minutes later I was summoned up to the third floor of the yeshiva’s main building where Danny, 3 years my senior, pushed me up against the wall and said azoy: ‘if I ever see you talking to that girl again………deleted, deleted, deleted and more deletions….” Was Danny
so frum? Was Danny looking out for my best interests and worried that my talking to Mindy would be damaging to my soul? Was he the yeshiva’s enforcer? Not! Seemingly, he just had a simple high school crush on Mindy. Ober I was taka frightened and avada kept my distance from Mindy. It would be another 15 years or more, before I would talk to any girl with that name.
Ober this past Sunday, after shaking his hand and exchanging pleasantries, I reminded Danny about his old flame Mindy. We enjoyed a good laugh. The story was repeated a few minutes later to Danny’s lovely eishes chayil who listened carefully. Seemingly Danny had come clean
and had told her all about Mindy. All, that is except for the fact that he terrorized a young freshman who happened to have spoken to ‘his’ Mindy. She listened carefully, rolled her eyes when she heard the name Mindy and then said to Danny azoy: “You need to apologize and take
ownership of your bad behavior back in 1969.” Of course, after many years of expensive therapy and prescription drugs, the Oisvorfer had long gotten over this myseh.
Danny and the Oisvorfer shook hands again and shared yet another good laugh. On Danny’s site http://danbutlerinspires.com/page3/page3.html – one of the tabs contains a few stories he likes telling. He states they are all true, so is the one told above. And unlike run-ins the Oisvorfer had
with a rogue pirchei leader and a few rebbes, there were no hard feelings, if you chap, from this story. Danny, now known as Dan, went on as stated above, to become a judge and I, the Oisvorfer Ruv; that’s life.
Let’s learn some parsha. We have previously covered the Tzelofchod five, the five daughters who get a curtain call this week. So do Eldad and Meydad, possibly Moishe’s half-brothers and the unusual case of the accidental killer and what happens to him. You can find the Oisvorfer’s spin at www.oisvorfer.com. Check it out!
Efsher you’re wondering why the heylige Toirah would be so verbose and devote 49 pisukim to list every single place the Yiddin camped out during their midbar sojourns, especially those way stations where nothing nefarious took place? What difference does it make to us if they moved from A to B or from C to D and why list each of the 42 stops by name? Weren’t we taught that not even one letter in the heylige Toirah is extra and that each word has meaning? We were. Avada there are answers; let’s quickly review a few.
Says Rashi: the Yiddin needed to remember the good and the bad that happened to them during the wilderness journeys so that they would have a degree of perspective when they finally reached their new home in Canaan. Seemingly the RBSO wanted the Yiddin to remember each stage of the journey to the Promised Land. Rashi also says that they didn’t quite move about as much as meets the eye: seemingly they spent 19 years in one camp. And says Rabaynu Bechaye: there were sparks of holiness in those 42 locations and in an early form of the scavenger hunt, the Yiddin had to collect those sparks; each location was critical to their evolvement. And just as the Yiddin journeyed through the Midbar, so too will we, one day, when the Moshiach appears in the final redemption. We’re going back to the midbar? For 40 years? Yes and no. Says Rabaynu Bechaye and the Raavad azoy: when Moshiach comes, the Yiddin will not immediately be transported or rollover to Israel. Instead, they will be gathered together and led there on the same path that the Yiddin took. They will visit all the encampments. Why, ver veyst? Based on that opinion, the listing in our parsha of all stops is not merely a historical fact, but also the Yiddin’s future travel itinerary. Mamish gishmak, let’s go veyter.
Nu, as mentioned above, it’s in Masei where the RBSO instructs Moishe to divvy up the Promised Land to the BnaiYisroel (Yiddin). Says the heylige Toirah (BaMidbar 34:2) azoy: “Command the BnaiYisrael and say to them: When you come to the land of Canaan, this is the land within the borders of the land of Canaan that shall be your hereditary territory.” Indeed, we had set borders; of course not everyone agreed as to what they were.
Knowing the exact borders was helpful in divvying up the land and also for other reasons. What other reasons? Says Rashi quoting the medrish, and who knew better, azoy: knowing the borders has significant implications in practical halocho. Lemoshol (by way of example), the laws of terumois and ma’asrois, (tithes) that were given to the Kohain, the Leviim and the poor; the myriad nuances pertaining to shmitta and yoivel (sabbatical and jubilee) only apply within the borders of the Land. In other words: those outside the borders, even by a small margin, were exempt from quite a large number of commandments. Knowing the borders had other perquisites. Questions we had about certain questionable activities were answered azoy: they took place outside the border. The ‘outside the border excuse’ helped explain numerous perplexities, such as how Yakkov was able to marry four sisters (two full and two half). Efsher we can kler that’s how Yoicheved (Moishe’s mother) could remarry her husband after being married to another party from whom she had Eldad and Meydad who, incidentally, make an appearance in this week’s parsha. Some suggest this was allowed because it took place before Matan Toirah, ver veyst. Gishmak. Taka it’s the case that numerous mitzvois apply only in the land of Israel and today without the BeisHamkidash, the 613 mitzvois commonly known as Taryag, have been slimmed down to a much lower and more manageable number here in Golus; also in the 5 Towns. Unfortunately, most of the loi-sah-says are still here. As-says are zicher easier to keep. Loi sah-says have always been a challenge, if you chap. And the good news for the oisvorf community? Yom Kippur is right around the corner.
And says Rabbeinu Bechaye: the heylige Toirah set clear borders in order to designate the specific areas of land which Yiddin were commanded by the RBSO Himself to conquer and take possession of. Ober says the Ralbag: the borders were delineated specifically to teach us that these were the borders that the RBSO promised the Yiddin. Ober should they venture outside these borders they cannot be guaranteed of His help in conquering that land. Ver veyst?
All this border talk taka started with this week’s parsha. Avada you are urged to learn perek (chapter) 34, where the heylige Toirah clearly sets them out. Ober since then and for over 3,000 years, these very borders have been a source of conflict. Thousands have perished trying to maintain them; again so today. The parsha delineates each of them clearly and today’s Chumoshim have maps with some detail, one is found above. Seemingly the ancient borders included a considerable portion of modern-day Lebanon and reached into modern-day Syria. It also included Gaza even though the Yiddin were never able to conquer the Philistines who occupied Gaza.
Nu, after millions of Yiddin have been learning the heylige Toirah for thousands of years and though we have read these pisukim over and again, do we know with certainty what those borders were? We don’t! There was seemingly some disagreement from the get-go. Moreover, over the years these borders were expanded and contracted more than once. Both Dovid and Shlomo Hemelech expanded the borders beyond the initial limits described in the heylige Toirah, ober various conquerors contracted them. The northern kingdom disappeared never to appear again while the southern kingdom disappeared, then reappeared, only to be conquered by the Greeks followed by the Romans. Eventually the Romans destroyed the second Beis Hamikdash and more. For almost 2,000 years of Jewish history there were no borders.
Nu, let’s skip to more modern times. The Oisvorfer dug up some history. At the end of WW I Britain was given a mandate to administer the southern portion of the former Ottoman Empire. In 1922 the League of Nations divided this mandated territory into two areas: Palestine, under the rule of Great Britain and Transjordan under the rule of the Hashamite family.
In 1947 the United Nations created the modern State of Israel by carving the former British Mandate area into two states, a Jewish state and an Arab state. This plan was greeted in May of 1948 by an all-out attack from the surrounding Arab states on the fledgling State of Israel. By the time the fighting was over, the map of Israel from 1948 – 1967 had epes a new look. Modern Israel was founded in 1948, but even after sixty-six years of statehood there are still no agreed upon international borders; oy vey!
In 1967 Israel came under attack from the Arab armies of Egypt, Syria, and Jordan. Israel was able to turn back all her attackers and took possession of portions of the West Bank of the Jordan River (formerly part of Jordan), the Golan Heights (formerly part of Syria), the Sinai Desert (formerly part of Egypt) and East Jerusalem (formerly part of Jordan). Veyter.
In 1978, Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat signed a peace treaty which included the return of the Sinai desert to Egypt. Egypt was also offered the Gaza strip, but turned it down. From the 1980’s to present day, Israel has been locked in a conflict to determine her borders and those of a Palestinian state. Israel pulled out of the Gaza Strip and allowed Gaza to be its own place. Chamas came into power and so began almost daily rocket attacks across the border; sadly, this is the case ad-hayoim-hazeh (presently) Vus-vet-zyn (what’s going to be), ver veyst? Will we see peace or agreed upon borders in our lifetimes? Ver veyst. Dealing and negotiating with barbarians is not easy.
Nu while we’re talking, here’s a shtikel something for the shabbis tish: This heylige Toirah tells us that the eastern border is the Jordan River. It is? Ober didn’t we learn just last week that after negotiations, Moishe gave Reuven, Gad, and half of the tribe of Menashe the territory conquered from Sichon and Oig? And taka that’s where they settled. We did. And wasn’t this land situated on the eastern side of the Jordan? It was. And if all that is emes, shouldn’t the proper eastern border be the eastern boundary of this territory? It should!
Ober said Rav Moshe Feinstein, he of blessed memory and a person the Oisvorfer met on many occasions, azoy: there is a basic difference between the Land of Israel west of the Jordan and the territory to the east. The land to the west was taka promised to Avrohom and to the other forefathers. It was destined to be conquered and become the Land of Israel. Ober the land of Sichon and Oig was not included in this covenant. It was not predetermined that this land should become part of the Land of Israel.
Moishe taka awarded the land of Sichon and Oig to Reuven, Gad, and half of Menashe. However, he had stipulated a condition. This land would become their achuza (portion) only after they had conquered the territory west of the Jordan. Moishe required that first the land of the covenant, the Promised Land, be captured. Then, this additional land could become part of the Land. The sanctity of the land of Sichon and Oig was suspended until the land of the covenant was possessed.
In our parsha, the RBSO specifically described the borders of the land of the covenant, the land he promised to our zeyda’s. This land needed to be occupied and conquered first. Once this was accomplished, the land of Sichon and Oig could be possessed, sanctified and added to the greater land of Israel. Gishmak mamish. Lommer huffin (let’s hope) that the Yiddin who are facing an existential threat mamish, are guided correctly.
Finally, It’s not often that we get to read Masei without its twin parsha of Matos. Why? because the lunisolar Hebrew calendar (whatever that is) contains up to 55 shabosim, the exact number varying between 50 in non-leap or common years and 54 or 55 in leap years. In leap years (2011 and 2014), Masei is read separately; we have enough parshas to go around. Ober In common years (2012, 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2018), Masei will be combined with Matos. Why? In those years, we have too many parshas and not enough shabosim. Got that? And to solve this issue, we simply double some of them up. It so happens that Matos-Masei are doubled every year, except for a leap year where Acharei-Mos is read on Shabbos Hagadol, and in Israel, during a leap year in which Pesach fell on Shabbis. These parshios are doubled to ensure that Devorim is read on the Shabbos before Tisha B’Av.
A gittin Shabbis
The Oisvorfer Ruv