Retrieving holiness from the Exile

August 5, 2016  

“These are the journeys of the Children of Israel by which they went forth out of the Land of Egypt by their Legions under the hand of Moshe and Aaron.”

“And Moshe wrote their goings forth stage by stage at the bidding of Hashem and these are their stages and their goings forth.” (32:1-2) Rashi immediately asks why were each of the travels written? Rashi points out that there were a total of 42 different locations (14 places before the Meraglim and 8 after the death of Aaron).

Rashi says G-d made the Jews wander to show them His Kind Acts. The Rambam in Moreh Nevuchim adds, to show them His Miracles in each location. The Jews were only able to survive because of G-d’s intervention. Each location could easily have destroyed any other Nation. The Desert is an unforgiving environment.

G-d ,however, is not unforgiving. He is merciful and kept the Jews alive via daily miracles. Obviously, each location had special significance. The 25th location, Chashmona, for example, is a clear prophetic reference to the 25th of Kislev when the Chashmonaim finally rested after defeating the Greeks. The 42 locations have many meanings and hints at future events. The number of letters in G-d’s NAME according to Kabbala is 42.

Each letter has its own Spiritual Power. The 42 letter name of G-d appeared on the Choshen (Breastpiece) of the Kohen. The 42 Letters are an an Acronym for the “Ana BeKoach” (Please in your power) Prayer. It is also why one cannot divide the 42 journeys into separate Aliyot to the Torah. The Levi’im who are G-d’s Torah Teachers and maintained the Sanctity of the Jewish People were given 42 Cities in the land of Israel. It is not a coincidence that the promise to the Levi’im occurs in the very same Parsha of Mas’ei (“The cities which you shall give to the Levi’im: the six cities of Refuge, which shall give forth the murderer to flee there, and on top of those you shall give 42 cities.”)(35:6).

It is also not a coincidence that the Commandment to settle the Land of Israel (According to the Ramban) occurs in the very same Parsha of Mas’ei that elaborates the desert experience that served as a prelude to living in the Land of Israel. The Desert experience hardened the Jew and made him great. It enabled the Jews to fully appreciate the land of Israel. “You shall possess the Land and you shall settle in it, for to you I have given the Land to possess it.”(33:53). The Shem Mishmuel goes much further and says that the 42 wanderings correspond to the entire History of the Jewish People. The Desert experience is a microcosm of the Jewish experience.

For 2000 years the Jews have been dispersed across the Globe. They have been spread across every continent. Rav Dessler TZ”L in his work Michtav MeEliyahu (Cheilek 5) says that the Jews had to wander the world in our exiles in order to absorb and glean the “Nizzozot HaKedusha” (the sparks of Holiness) from each place. Our exiles like the desert experience would end and we would enter the Promised Land bringing with us all the Nizzozot Hakedusha that we had taken from our respective lands.

The Land of Israel today is the climax and culmination of all of our collective exiles. The Spirituality of Israel today relates to all the collected sparks whether from Poland, Germany, Russia, France, America, England, Yemen, Iraq, Greece, Afghanistan, Morocco, etc.. There has never been a time when the significance of all of our wanderings could be more meaningful and relevant.

Shabbat Shalom.

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