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Masei 5774
Download thousands of audio shiurim and articles at www.yutorah.org 
The Marcos and Adina Katz
Masei 5774
Names on a List
Rabbi Reuven Spoler 
hen my children grow up, I imagine ha one day we’ll look a he old phoos and ell hem abou he places where we lived. “Well, we go married and lived in he Washingon Heighs. Ten  we moved o Linden, NJ, and hen o Wes Harord, C. From here we moved o Oak Park, MI (We moved around a lo.). Ten we made aliyah o Yad Binyamin . ” Wha will my children hink abou hese differenplaces? Wha could Linden, New Jersey or a small ciy in Connecicu mean o hem? Wha abou heir children? o us he names o hese ciies bring back memories o small homes, early married lie, riends and relaionships rom an earlier ime in our lives. Bu o our children – and especially o heir children (God willing!) he names o hese places will probably mean nohing. Tey’re jus names o places, no differen han any oher place o which hey’ve never been and will probably never visi.I hink abou hese names o places when I read he firs secion o Parasha Masei. Te firs secion o he parashah liss a number o places, mos o which we’ve never heard o and could never locae on a map. Did you know ha he  Jewish people raveled rom Livnah o Risah o Keheilaah o Har Shaer? I’s righ here in he Chumash; (33:21-23) he lis goes on and on, a liany o places ha I neiher remember nor care abou.Chazal oo wondered abou his long lis o names. Rashi and Ramban sugges ha he lis is surprisingly shor o each us jus how much God loved he Jewish people. He loved hem so much ha He only orced hem o uproo he camp a relaively small number o imes over a ory-year period. Ramban also quoes Rambam who suggess in Moreh Nevuchim ha one day people migh claim ha he Jews never really raveled in he deser. (Can you imagine?) Tereore, he orah meiculously chronicles heir ravels o affirm ha he naion really did survive miraculously in he deser. Ye, even afer quoing Rambam’s long explanaion, Ramban adds,
ןטלו מ
םי כ נה
 Behold, he wriing o hese ravels is a commandmen o God, eiher due o he reasons menioned or wihou hem; his is a mater whose secre is no revealed o us…
In essence, says Ramban, we don’ know why Moshe  wroe down he names o he places, oher han he ac ha God commanded him o do so. God waned us o have his long lis, and didn’ ell us why. Ye, while I don’ know precisely why God commanded Moshe o record he lis, I can ell you how reading he lis o hese places makes me eel: I eel like I’m reading a lis o Jewish communiies desroyed by he Nazis in he Holocaus .Have you ever ried o look a map o Jewish Poland, and jus read hrough he names o he communiies? Jus Google “sheels in Poland”. I recognized perhaps five – o more han fify! Te names are oreign, srange. Have  you ever heard o Kanczuga, Kiernozia, Kleczew, Konin, Korczyna, Krasnosielc, or Kurzelow? And hose are jus he K’s ha have websies. Have you ever visied he Valley o Communiies a Yad Vashem? I’s a hauning canyon ha simply liss he names o desroyed Jewish communiies during he Holocaus. I I would ask you how many communiies are on he lis, how many would you guess? 500? 1,000? Would you believe ha over 5,000 names o communiies are engraved on he walls o he Valley o Communiies?Tey don’ even eel real o me. And despie his eeling I know ha each name no represens no jus a place, bu ens or hundreds or housands o Jews who buil amilies, communiies, shuls and schools. And now hey’re gone. How many hriving Jewish communiies rom Norhern
Masei 5774
Download thousands of audio shiurim and articles at www.yutorah.org 
Tere’s Something in the Air
Rabbi Josh Hoffman
n parshas Masei, he naion is given he boundaries o he land i is abou o ener, and which i is charged o capure. Fory-wo ciies are hen assigned o he Levies, and an addiional six ciies are given hem o serve as ciies o reuge, o save he inadveren murderer rom he avenger o blood. We have noed in he pas he commen o he almud ha here were an equal number o ciies o reuge on each side o he Yarden River, even hough here were only wo and a hal ribes on he easern side o he river, and nine and a hal ribes on he wesern side. Te almud explains ha here was an abundance o murderers on he easern side, and ha is why here had o be a proporionaely larger number o ciies o reuge here. Te Maharal o Prague asks, aren’ he ciies o reuge se aside o serve he inadveren? How, hen, can an abundance o willul murderers have any repercussions or he number o ciies o reuge needed? He answers ha, because here was an abundance o willul murderers on he easern side o he Yarden, lie, in general, was no  valued properly, and, in such an amosphere inadveren murders occurred more ofen, as well. Tis observaion o he Maharal can, I believe, help us undersand he verses preceding he secion on he boundaries o he land and he purpose or bringing, a lengh, he laws o he ciies o reuge afer seting ou he boundaries. Beore he naion is given he boundaries o he land, i is old, “I you do no drive ou he inhabians o he land  beore you, hose o hem whom you leave shall be as pins in your eyes and as horns in your sides, and hey shall harass you upon he land in which you dwell” (Bamidbar 33: 55). Te naion, hen, was commanded o drive he inhabians o he land ou. As he almud ells us, hree opions were given o hese inhabians. Eiher hey could make peace and accep observance o he Noachide laws upon hemselves, or hey could leave he land and go o anoher counry, or hey could wage war. In mos cases, he  war opion was chosen, and, as a resul, he naion had o engage in a grea deal o batle in he process o inhabiing he land. Such an amosphere, i carried ino everyday lie once hey setled ino heir designaed homes, had he poenial o having a negaive effec on he amosphere o he counry in general, placing i in a miliarisic mode, and lessening he value o lie in general. Jus as he Maharal augh us ha an abundance o willul murders can lead o an increase in inadveren murders, a miliarisic mode could have he effec o viewing lie as less imporan han i is. Perhaps or his reason he laws o he ciy o reuge are presened a lengh precisely a his juncure, in order o emphasize he value o lie,and he saeguards ha mus be aken o preserve i.  Arica are now jus names on a lis? Wha abou he ormer Sovie Union? Ukraine? Te Middle Eas? Te lis goes on and on.Tis is he mournul message o Massei. Te ravels o he Jewish people ouside he land o Israel are fleeing, emporary, and anonymous. We migh sop a one locaion or a shorer ime, and anoher or longer – perhaps much longer. Bu in he end, each place will be orgoten, jus a memory o is ormer sel, a name on a lis, bu nohing more .Can i be a coincidence ha we always read Massei during he Tree Weeks, he period o ime when we recall he desrucion o Jewish communiies rom around he  world? We know ha as hey raveled hrough he deser, he Midrash eaches us ha each isha B’av, every Jew  who reached he age o sixy ha year died. How many  Jewish graveyards were los in he sands o he Sinai deser? Maybe his lis is boh a lamen and a oreshadowing; a kinah o God or he los ime and he desroyed Jewish communiy which perished in he deser - a lamenaion or he ens o housands o Jews who died needlessly in he deser, and he ens o millions who would perish afer hem in he deser o he exile. And wha abou America? o me names like Balimore and Akron and S. Louis and Lawrence and Oceanside and Brooklyn seem naural. I’ve been o hose places. I know people who live here. Bu do we have any illusion ha hey  will always be known as Jewish places? (Is ha somehing  we even wan?) How long will i be beore hose ciies also  become anonymous names on a meaningless lis, oreign and alien and hard o imagine?I’m sorry o be so depressing. isha B’av is coming.
Masei 5774
Download thousands of audio shiurim and articles at www.yutorah.org 
he book o Bemidbar draws o a close wih an accoun o he ciies o reuge, he six ciies – hree on each side o he Jordan – se apar as places o which people ound innocen o murder, bu guily o manslaugher, were sen.In early socieies, especially non-urban ones ha lacked an exensive police orce, here was always a danger ha people would ake he law ino heir own hands, in paricular when a member o heir amily or ribe had been killed.Tus would begin a cycle o vengeance and realiaion ha had no naural end, one revenge-killing leading o anoher and anoher, unil he communiy had been decimaed, a phenomenon amiliar o us rom lieraure, rom he Monagues and Capules o Romeo and Julie, o he Sharks and Jes o Wes Side Sory, o he Corleones and ataglias o Te Godaher.Te only viable soluion is he effecive and imparial rule o law. Tere is, hough, one persising danger. I Reuben killed Shimon and is deemed innocen o murder  by he cour – i was an acciden, here was no malice aorehough, he vicim and perperaor were no enemies
Natural or Supernatural?
Rabbi Lord Jonahan Sacks
Rabbi Yehudah Leib Ginzburg, in his commenary  Yalku Yehudah o parshas Shofim, menions he almudic commen regarding he address made o Jewish soldiers  beore waging war in he Holy Land. Te kohein begins his address by saying, “Hear Yisroel (Shema Yisroel)  you are oday approaching batle agains your enemies” (Devorim 20:3). Rashi, ciing he almud (Soah 42a),  wries ha he seemingly superfluous words, ‘Shema  Yisroel’ - Hear O Yisroel - are an allusion o he prayer o Shema ha is recied wice daily. Te kohein, says he almud, by beginning his address wih hese words, is elling he soldiers ha even i he only meri hey have is ha o he reciaion o he Shema, hey are worhy o having God save heir lives during batle. Why should he Shema be effecive specifically in regard o he batles ha are described in parshas Shofim? Rabbi Ginzburg explains  by reerring o Rashi’s explanaion o he firs senence o he Shema,”Hear Yisroel, he Lord our God, he Lord is one” (Devorim 6:4).Tis verse expresses our hope ha God, who is a he momen recognized as he One God only by his people Yisroel, will, evenually, be recognized as such by all naions. Beore embarking on a war in which many human beings will likely be killed, we mus know ha our moivaion in doing so is no any orm o hared o humaniy, bu, on he conrary, by our love or humaniy and hope ha hey will join us in our recogniion o God’s uniy. Te naions we are commanded o wage war agains ransgressed he seven Noachide laws, hereby ignoring, he undamenal elemens o moraliy, or, as my eacher Rav Ahron Soloveichik pu i, he naural law ha is embedded in every man’s hear and mind. Beore we wage  war agains hem, we offer o make peace wih hem, on condiion ha hey accep observance o he Noachide laws upon hemselves. Alhough here is a dispue among he medieval commenaors as o wheher we send his peace offer even o members o he seven Canaanie naions, Rav Ahron Soloveichik mainained ha all agree ha i hey offer o make peace on heir own, we do accep heir offer. Only i hey insis on remaining in he land and a he same ime persis in violaing he seven laws do we go on o wage war agains hem. o allow he seven naions o remain in he land and coninue wih heir immoral, inhumane pracices would make our goal o bringing all he naions o a recogniion o he One God virually impossible o atain.Te kohein, in addressing he soldiers, alludes o he Shema in order o remind hem o he reason ha hey are abou o wage war. Keeping his message in mind as hey go ou o figh will help hem wage war wih he proper inenion, and hereby provide hem wih he meri hey need o win he batle. Following our discussion o he placemen o he secion concerning he ciies o reuge close o he secion on driving he naions ou o he land, we can add ha keeping in mind he rue moivaion  behind hese wars when fighing hem will preven he creaion o an amosphere in which human lie is no  valued, such as he insiuion o he ciies o reuge is mean o deal wih.

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