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Friday, June 1

This past Wednesday, 16 Sivan, was the yahrtzeit of R' Ephraim Eisenberg, zt"l of Ner Yisroel. The shtikle is dedicated l'iluy nishmaso, Ephraim Zalman ben Chayim HaLevi.

In this week's parsha we have the famous two pesukim (10:35-36) regarding the traveling and resting of the aron. The two pesukim are encapsulated by the irregular upside down nuns, thus dividing sefer Bemidbar into two parts. The exact placement of this separation is quite significant. The divided parts of Bemidbar are rather divergent periods in B'nei Yisrael's sojourn in the midbar. Until this point, everything is proceeding beautifully. B'nei Yisrael are camped as a united nation at Har Sinai. They complete the building of the mishkan and its consecration. Everything seems to be going fine. And then everything seems to go wrong. The rest of Bemidbar seems to be a drastic sequence of struggles that B'nei Yisrael face. Moshe seems constantly challenged with complaints. B'nei Yisrael are faced with the challenging episodes of the spies, Korach and Midyan. These two pesukim are the border between these two eras.


The first challenge is that of the mis'onenim, the complainers. The Torah does not tell us what they were complaining about but the ensuing consequences are quite clear. The site of this disaster is named Tav'eirah, after the great consuming fire. R' Chaim Kanievsky notes that in parshas Mas'ei, when all the checkpoints that B'nei Yisrael passed through are enumerated, there is no mention of Tav'eirah.


Ramban (11:3) posits that B'nei Yisrael did not move from there before the next challenge after which that very same place was renamed Kivros HaTa'avah which is mentioned as the first stop after Har Sinai (33:16). However, R' Chaim dismisses this suggestion based on the pasuk in parshas Eikev (Devarim 9:22) which seems to clearly refer to Tav'eirah and Kivros HaTa'avah as separate places. R' Chaim quotes from his son that the list of checkpoints in parshas Mas'ei is only a list of locations where B'nei Yisrael camped and rested. While the Torah does not tell us directly what the mis'onenim complained about, Rashi does offer some insight into the matter. He writes (11:1) that B'nei Yisrael were complaining about the discomfort of having traveled three consecutive days without resting. It therefore seems that this place was not a place where they rested at all. They were certainly traveling until the tragedy occurred and seemingly picked up and continued immediately afterward as well. Therefore, it is not listed in parshas Mas'ei.

Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:

Al Pi Cheshbon: Piles of Quail 
Dikdukian: The Impure

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