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Parasha No. 43
Massey: “Stages”

Bemidbar (Numbers) 33, 1 - 36, 13

The meaning of the 42 stages
Plan Extract in Hebrew
Themes of the parasha with transliteration
and translation

A. Stages
- Principle meaning: Modia
- Rashi's commentary The parasha chanted
- Summary of the 42 stages teamim Ashkenazim
- The Shla's commentary

B. The mitzvot in the parasha The parsasha chanted
- The meaning of the mitzvot teamim Sepharadim
- Memorization exercise
- Further reading

The haftara chanted
teamim Ashknenazim



Themes of the parasha: stages

In order to understand this parasha, it is important to read Mattot, the preceding parasha, which teaches us how to improve our moral and spiritual qualities. This work of self-improvement is now completed in Massey, which describes the physical stages accomplished by the bnei Yisrael, from the time of the exodus from Egypt. It then commands the children of Israel to settle the promised land, defining the boundaries of Israel, the leaders who will take possession of the land, the number of Levitical cities and cities of refuge, the laws governing murder and manslaughter, the laws of inheritance within each tribe, and ends with a Massoretic note.

A. The Stages

Principle meaning: Modia

Elle massey benei Yisrael, "These are the stages of the children of Israel.."
Thus begins the final parasha of the book of Bamidbar (Bemidbar Sinai).
This book contains:
63,530 LETTERS, 16,368 WORDS, 1,288 VERSES, 36 SECTIONS

The completion of this parasha marks the completion of 249,913 letters in the four books of the Torah, out of a total of 304,805 for the entire Pentateuch (the Tanakh as a whole has 1,159,705 letters). Each letter of the Tanakh contains a message which needs to be deciphered, a call for love and a moral lesson. This is how Rashi has taught us to understand the Tanakh.

In the desert described in Bemidbar (in the desert), we have accomplished 63,530 stages or letters: the word midbar (desert) represents the emptiness of the desert, but it is also linked to medaber "he who speaks": it is against the emptiness that surrounds us that the word one's beloved is heard. This was the case for the children of Israel in the desert, and this is the case for all of us. This is why we have been given the teachings of the Torah.

In the first 49 verses, the parasha describes each of the stages in the journey of the children of Israel, as they went forth out of Egypt towards the promised land. What is the meaning of these stages?

Rashi's commentary

Rashi writes: lama nikhtevu hamassaot hallalu? Lehodia hassadav shel makom (why are these stages in the journey described? In order to make known to us the benevolence of the Creator). Readers will have noticed the word "Modia," which I have adopted as the name of this site, and they now understand its meaning: to makes known to us the stages since the beginning of creation, describing every step on the way, till the realization of the ultimate goal.

Rashi's commentary echoes Psalm 89, 2:
"hassde hashem olam ashira, le dor va dor odia emunatekha ve fi
I will sing of the mercies of Hashem forever, with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations."
We should all review our lives and the history of the Jewish people in this light, in order to see, amidst trials and tragedies, the signs of Hashem's benevolence.

King David goes even further (Psalm 119, 71):
"tov-li khi uneti
It is good for me that I have been afflicted,
lemaan elmade hukeikha
that I might learn thy statutes."

Readers should study Rashi's first commentary on each book of the Torah, for he always refers to this theme of Hashem's benevolence throughout these stages. In particular, readers should study Rashi's first commentary on this parasha.

Summary of the 42 stages (refer to Rashi's commentary)
The first year (year 2448): 12 stages from the time of Ramses to the revelation at Sinai.
The second year (year 2449): 3 stages from the time of kivrot hataava, the tombs of desire, Hatzerot and Ritma ; this is the stage of the construction of the sanctuary, the spies and the punishment of Myriam (Bemidbar 12, and 13).
The period till the 40th year: 19 stages in the desert till the death of Aharon on mount Hor.
The 40th year (2488): the final 8 stages leading to the Jordan at Jericho, as described in the last verse of Bemidbar (36, 13).
Total: 42.

The Stages Year since the creation
1. Ramses
2. Succot
3. Etam
4. Pi-Ahirot
5. Mara
6. Elim
7. Sea of Reeds
8. Sine desert
9. Dofka
10. Alush
11. Refidim
12. Sinai desert
13. Kivrot-hataava
14. Hatserot
15. Ritma
16. Rimon-Peretz
17. Livan
18. Rissa
19. Dehelat
20. Mount Sefer
21. Harada
22. Makelot
23. Tahat
24. Tera
25. Mithka
26. hashmona
27. Motzerot
28. Bene-Yaakan
29. Hor-Hagidgad
30. Jotbat
31. Avrona
32. Etzion-Geber
33. Kaddesh
34. Mount Hor
35. Tzalmona
36. Punon
37. Obot
38. Ille-Avarim
39. Dibone-Gad
40. Almon
41. Hills of Abbarim
42. Plains of Moab

Year 2448
12 stages from the time of Ramses
till the revelation at Sinai.

Year 2449
3 stages

Years 2449-2488
the 19 stages in the desert till the death of Aharon on mount Hor.

Year 2488
the final 8 stages till the Jordan at Jericho.

The Shla's commentary

In the third part of his commentary (Derekh Hayim, Way of Life), the Shla interprets the meaning of the stages in relation to our lives:

" the exile is a result of our sins;
" the need to move in order to go and live in a place where it is easier to study the Torah and to live according to the Torah;
" the expression tze ulemad (go out and study), which constantly appears in the Talmud, means that in order to study we must move away from our daily pre-occupations and preconceptions, just as Moshe did with the burning bush (read Shemot 3, 3).
" the concept of "exile" - the state in which the Sages put themselves before studying and before Shabbat (moving awayfrom the daily pre-occupations of the week).
" in other places, the Shla also includes the exile of Adam from the garden of Eden in this trajectory, giving meaning to the long stage which we pass in this world and which is only a temporary stage in our development.

B. The mitzvot in the parasha

These are mitzvot nos. 408 to 413, which command us:

" to establish Levitical cities and cities of refuge for those who commit manslaughter (35, 2 and 35, 11);
" to protect those who commit manslaughter until they are brought to judgment (35, 12);
" to deliver the manslayer to a city of refuge;
" to prohibit a witness to a murder from being part of a tribunal (35, 30;
" to refuse payment of a ransom in exchange for a death sentence (35, 31);
" to refuse payment of a ransom in exchange for the exile of a manslayer to a city of refuge (35, 32).

The meaning of the mitzvot in relation to the parasha

The Shla showed us that the preceding parasha taught us how to make our neshama holy; this parasha teaches us how to make the body holy. This relates to the work we need to do on ourselves during the period between the 17th of Tammuz and the 9th of Av (refer to the commentary on the month of Tamuz).

The Jewish people has been saved physically from slavery in Egypt and spiritually from assimilation. The aim is not to settle in a country of refuge and subscribe to another form of slavery, by adopting foreign values; the aim is to become a holy people, kaddosh, who live in keddusha, holiness.

In relation to this, the Shla explains that murder is the greatest sin against the Creator, for man was created in His image and His likeness.

The Shla also shows that those who commit manslaughter are involved in a complicated process of divine judgment, and that they will exile themselves to a city of refuge until the death of the high priest, the Cohen gadol.

Why is this? Because the death of the high priest is when Hashem's benevolence will manifest itself and repair the world ; indeed the death of a tzaddik (a righteous man) liberates, for himself and for others, the flux of benediction, in particular that which governs life and the birth of children.


Memorization exercice

Lama nikhtevu hamassaot hallalu ? lehodia hassadav shel makom.
"Why are these stages in the journey described? In order to make known the benevolence of the Creator" (Rashi on Bamidbar 33, 1).


Further reading

On the subject of Hashem's love, which is expressed so well by Rashi in his commentary on the first verse of this parasha, read Rashi's first commentary on the books of Bereshit, Shemot, Vayikra and Bamidbar.

Poem on the stage of each morning


- Psychology and Repentance
   (in french)

Part 15

Part 16

- Jerusalem excavations
- Terror and counseling
- Peace and peoples
- Israel and Iran
- Visual study & song on snow
for, through our union with the song of nature, the plan of Creation will be fulfilled

Poem: to be moon

In french

Avec Modia, vivez
vos vacances en Israël,
Texte et photos

- Par Modia, arrivez au Kotel
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- Love towards all people
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- Before the hanukiah
- Land of Israel
- Jerusalem excavations 2007
  Proof of the lies propagated
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In french - Hope in Israel

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- You are planning a tour in Israel - Photos
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Part 21

- My english songs


Rav Professor
Yehoshua Rahamim Dufour
(Dipur, in hebrew)

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