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Friday, July 25

The Weekly Shtikle - Mas'ei

A Weekly Shtikle Mazal Tov to my cousin Menachem Seliger of London on his engagement to Malkah Levinson of Manchester. Mazal Tov to the ganse mishapachah.

The Weekly Shtikle is dedicated to the following Israeli soldiers (list expanded to include family members): Amir ben Tzipporah, Daniel Aharon ben Esther, Binyamin Avraham ben Mindel Sarah, Elichai Aryeh ben Sarah Rivkah, Asher Refael ben Dinah Leah, Yechiel David ben Gella Rachel im kol chayalei Yisrael.

This issue was first discussed in 2005 when it became relevant for the first time in 21 years. This year we once again encounter it for the fourth time in 10 years but we are bidding farewell here in chutz la'aretz as it will once again be 21 years until this arises again. 

Magen Avraham (428:8) cites Tzeror HaMor, stating that one must not make a break in the middle of the masa'os, the pesukim dealing with the list of B'nei Yisrael's resting points in the midbar. The reason for this is that there are 42 venues, corresponding to one of the Divine names which has 42 letters.When Matos and Mas'ei are read together, the aliyah which joins the two parshios does not end at sheini of Mas'ei but rather, it continues until shelishi. The issue only arises when Matos and Mas'ei are separate.
Most chumashim have sheini planted smack in the middle of the masa'os. But according to Tzeror HaMor, we should not stop there. As this ruling is based primarily on kabbalah, some kehilos adopt the practice of reading them all at once and some simply do not.

Even among those who do adhere to this, another question arises already at minchah the week before and on Monday and Thursday. One school of thought is that the issue is only present when all 42 masa'os are read. Therefore, there is no problem with stopping at sheini. But some, minhag Chabad, for example, are still careful in all cases. 

There is yet one more matter that requires some clarity. How exactly do you slice it up? Some have the kohein read the first three pesukim, as we find in our siddurim and then the levi reads all of the masa'os. But technically, the recounting of the travels already begins in the third pasuk. Therefore, it is the custom of some, such as Munkatcher and Berditchever chassidim, to have the kohein read all the way. The rationale behind allowing the stop is that the sojourn from Rameseis is repeated again in pasuk 5. So the 42 travels are still contiguous.

Now, this opens up another interesting discussion. There actually only 41 travels listed. How do we get to 42? A number of answers have been suggested. Prishah (YD 275:14) writes that we don't count the actual trips but rather, the actual locations. Just as one trip involves two locations, two trips involve three, etc., the 41 trips involve 42 total locations. 

The GR"A completes the 42 with an interesting understanding of pesukim 48 and 49. He understands that they first came to rest in a general area known as Arvos Moav. But then, they traveled to a more specific area of Arvos Moav known as Beis HaYeshimos. Even though no traveling is recounted, it constitutes to trips. 

Targum Yonasan (Shemos 19:4) explains that on the night of Pesach, B'nei Yisrael were actually transported from Rameseis to the location of the Beis HaMikdash and brought the korban pesach there. There are sefarim that suggest, therefore, that the two mentions of the travel from Rameseis refer to two separate trips. After all, the first mention does not say they went to Sukkos, just that they traveled from Rameseis. This would of course be a strong support to the above mentioned practice of Munkatch and Berditchev not to stop at all at the beginning.

Have a good Shabbos and Chodesh Tov.

Eliezer Bulka

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:
Daily Leaf: Delayed Response
Daily Leaf: Provisional Beauty
Daily Leaf: Provincial Beauty
Daily Leaf: Weight a Minute

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