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Friday, June 13

The Weekly Shtikle - Beha'alosecha

    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 Bamidbar into two parts. The exact placement of this separation is quite significant. The divided parts of Bamidbar are rather opposite eras in B'nei Yisroel's sojourn in the midbar. Until this point, everything is proceeding beautifully. B'nei Yisroel 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 Bamidbar seems to be a drastic sequence of struggles that B'nei Yisroel face. Moshe seems constantly challenged with complaints. B'nei Yisroel 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' Chayim Kunyevsky notes that in parshas Mas'ei, when all the checkpoints that B'nei Yisroel passed through are enumerated, there is no mention of Tav'eirah.

    Ramban (11:3) posits that B'nei Yisroel 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' Chayim 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' Chayim quotes from his son that the list of checkpoints in parshas Mas'ei is only a list of locations where B'nei Yisroel 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 Yisroel 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


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