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Friday, July 13

The Weekly Shtikle - Matos / Mas'ei

As if the Three Weeks and Nine Days were not sad enough, this week, my cousin, Mrs. Michelle Jakobovits, passed away here in Baltimore. This week's shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmasah, Rochel Mirel bas Shmuel HaLevi.

The beginning of parshas Mas'ei includes a quick rundown of every single resting point along the journey out of Mitzrayim towards Eretz Yisrael. It is difficult to read through this account without wondering about the necessity to recount each and every stop. We know where they left from and we know where they end up. We even already know about the more significant events in between and where they took place. But why do we need to know every single other location?

I discovered an inspiration towards this idea from a very unlikely source, although it does not really answer the question. There is a quadrennial international sporting event currently captivating much of the entire world – the World Cup of Soccer (or football, depending where you are from.) One of the more intriguing aspects of the game (in which I, like many others, only have but a quadrennial interest) is the way the ball is passed around. The statistics actually keep tallies of the total passes and they are in the hundreds and can sometimes even be in the thousands during a single match. Additionally, although most other team sports do not have the ball or other object typically passed back further than a certain point – and some sports even forbid it – in soccer, the passes range throughout the entire field and often retreat all the way back to the goalkeeper. These numerous passes are necessary to build a scoring a chance which can often take many minutes to develop. If even one of these passes is off the mark, it can spell immediate doom.

Similarly (lehavdil), our journeys in the midbar often did not move in the forward direction. If they had, the whole sojourn would have culminated in a matter of days. But each change of course in whichever direction was necessary, whether for positive reasons or otherwise. We may not know the true purpose behind each of the individual stopping points, aside from some insights offered by Chaza"l. But we can certainly rest assured that there was a Divine calculation every step of the way.

Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka

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