Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Parshas Masei

Armed with the Past

The parsha of Maasei represents the culmination of the story of Israelís sojourn in the desert after its escape from Egypt and the revelation of the Torah on Mount Sinai. The Jewish people are poised to enter the Holy Land and to adjust to a more "normal" national existence. Manna will no longer come from heaven daily nor will there be miraculous traveling wells of water accompanying them. The parsha now deals with the issues of the borders of Israel and its attendant problems and with the methods of the division of the land amongst its inhabitants. All of this is pretty mundane stuff compared to the heady experiences of the desert - miracles, plagues, rewards and punishments, Mosheís masked radiant countenance and the thrill of building and servicing the mishakan. The parsha even tells us that there will be murders and murderers in the Land of Israel and that cities or refuge must be built to house them and protect them from avenging enemies. From the Midrash it may be implied that there were no such murderous occurrences during Israelís sojourn in the desert. In short, the rarified atmosphere and purely spiritual existence of Israel in the Sinai desert is now over. The challenges of creating an ordered, just and Torah society under natural national and human conditions are now the order of the day. It will take four centuries, until the times of Shmuel, Dovid and Shlomo for these challenges to be successfully met. The transition from the supernatural to the mundane is much harder to accomplish successfully than is the transition from the ordinary to the spiritual.

To help this transition occur, memory of past events is vital. The newness of the experience of the Land of Israel will be seen in perspective by remembering the previous experiences of Egypt and the desert. Faith and confidence will dominate Jewish life when the Jews recall the history of their existence and their survival and triumph over daunting odds. Rashi indicates that the listing of the thirty-eight encampments of Israel during their trek through the Sinai desert is to remind the Jews of their past difficulties and struggles and how they nevertheless prevailed. Part of the difficulty that Israel faces today in attempting to build a "normal" state and nation is that the early founders of secular Zionism not only denigrated the experiences of the Jewish exile but attempted to erase them from the memory of the "new" Jew they wished to create. Thus, the problems that challenge and disturb us today here in Israel - boundaries and demographics, value systems and the creation of a kinder, gentler Israel - are compounded by the lack of memory that could help us make reference to previous generationsí wisdom and strengths. The truth is that we have all been here, in one way or another before, and common sense would dictate that we therefore remember what happened then. But amnesia is the greatest Jewish malady of our day. All of the problems and difficulties that we face are in reality byproducts of that amnesia. Maasei teaches us that we should remember where we have been so that we have a sense of faith and confidence in where we want to now go.

Shabat shalom.
Rabbi Berel Wein


Text Copyright © 2005 by Rabbi Berel Wein and Torah.org


 

ARTICLES ON NASO:

View Complete List

Messiah, Can I Keep My Rolls?
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5761

Harmonizing Without Homogenizing
Rabbi Label Lam - 5772

Faith in Motion
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5773

> Holy Heart
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5764

He is in Control
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5773

Ditto
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5757

ArtScroll

The Blessing Which Can Never Be Retracted
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5760

Out Of Control
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5771

Not The Same
Rabbi Raymond Beyda - 5765

Looking for a Chavrusah?

In the Wilderness
Shlomo Katz - 5768

For Him the Bell Tolls
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5759

Life, the Bigger Picture -- Say Cheese!
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5764

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Shalom Bayis
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5769

The Source of All Blessing
Rabbi Dovid Green - 5758

The Dilemma of Nisanel ben Tzuar
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5758

Out Of Control
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5772



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information