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YUTORAH IN PRINT • A PROJECT OF YESHIVA UNIVERSITY’S CENTER FOR THE JEWISH FUTURE
Masei 5774
Download thousands of audio shiurim and articles at www.yutorah.org 
The Marcos and Adina Katz
YUTORAH
IN
 PRINT
Masei 5774
Names on a List
Rabbi Reuven Spoler 
 W 
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,
םימעטה
 
ןמ
 
איה
 ‘
ה
 
תוצמ
 
תועסמה
 
בתכמ
 
הנהו
...
ודוס
 
ונל
 
הלגתנ
 
אל
 
ןינע
 ,
ןטלו מ
 
וא
 
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
 
2
YUTORAH IN PRINT • A PROJECT OF YESHIVA UNIVERSITY’S CENTER FOR THE JEWISH FUTURE
Masei 5774
Download thousands of audio shiurim and articles at www.yutorah.org 
Tere’s Something in the Air
Rabbi Josh Hoffman
I
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.
 
3
YUTORAH IN PRINT • A PROJECT OF YESHIVA UNIVERSITY’S CENTER FOR THE JEWISH FUTURE
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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