28 July 2016

Parshas Matos – By The Plains of Moav

The Plains of Moav
By Roy S. Neuberger

“These are the journeys of the Children of Israel ….”

High drama! This epic journey has inspired the entire world! 

The passage ends, “They encamped by the Yarden, from Bais Hayshimos until Avail Hashittim, in the Plains of Moav….” (Bamidbar 33:1-49)


How interesting that our travels in the Midbar are recounted in forty-nine possukim (Bamidbar 33:1-49), exactly the number of days it took from Mitzraim to Sinai, the number of days of Sefira, the number of days we needed to go from tumah to kedusha. Does this not tell us something? All our journeys in life are for the purpose of teshuva. May we only realize it!

My favorite road in the world is the Tishim,” Route 90, which runs the entire length of Israel, from Eilat to Lebanon, passing along the Jordan Valley from Yericho to Tiveria. From this road, one can look eastward, across the Yarden, into the Plains of Moav. There you can see – in your mind’s eye – the Children of Israel, encamped under the leadership of Moshe Rabbeinu, exactly as described in this week’s Parsha, poised to cross into the Holy Land. 

Our ancestors rebelled again and again. They tried Hashem’s patience, kaviochol, endlessly. “Thus said Hashem, ‘What did your forefathers find in Me that is wrong, that they distanced themselves from Me and went after nothingness….!” (Haftaras Masei) And yet, Hashem loves us so much that He will never abandon us! He will never annul the Bris He made with us. And He will bring us across the Yarden to the Land He promised us! “Zion will be redeemed with justice and her returnees with righteousness.” (Haftaras Devarim)

But how could a “ten-day” journey 
from Mitzraim to Eretz Yisroel take forty years? 

I made a rough calculation of the direct route from the Red Sea to the border of Israel (as defined in our Parsha) and it looks to be about 125 miles. A normal waking rate is 1.4 miles per hour, at which rate it should take a person on a straight path about 89 hours to walk from Egypt to Israel. Assuming about ten hours walking per day, that is about nine days. Even if we factor in the huge number of people with belongings, the Leviim carrying the Mishkan with all its kailim, and the fact that it was desert, the direct distance is still short. So let’s call it nine days. 

How could a nine-day walk take forty years?

My friends, this is life itself. Look back on all your important projects. Is it not true that every project involving kedusha takes a lifetime! Look at our own history: how long we have been in Golus! Look at what we have survived! Look how long it takes to make a talmid chacham! A lifetime! The Satan throws up roadblocks up at every turn. But despite all the setbacks, we go on. When it comes to kedusha, no matter how long the road, we never give up. "We run and they run. We run to the life of the World to Come, while they run to the well of destruction.” (Hadran)

“Rabos ra’os tsaddik … many are the mishaps of the righteous, but from them all Hashem rescues him….” (Tehillim 34) 

I spoke recently to a Gadol b’Torah. You would know his name. He told me that he constantly changes his method of saying brachas, because the Yetzer Hara is so incredibly tricky that, each time you think you have mastered kavana, the Yetzer Harahas a new trick to fool you. The battle is ongoing every second, because the Yetzer Hara never runs out of koach or tactics or costumes. 

Right now, we – Am Yisroel – are standing as a Nation in the Plains of Moav. Our journey is close to the finish line. Our travels through history have brought us to the brink of our goal: the peaceful settlement of Eretz Yisroel and the rebuilding of the Bais Hamikdosh.  

A few weeks ago we read a frightening prophesy from the mouth of Bilaam. “Come, I shall advise you what this people will do to your people in the End of Days…” (Bamidbar 24:14) And Bilaam continues. “Oy, mi yichye misumo Kail …Who will survive when He imposes these.” (Bamidbar 24:23) And who are “these?” Sforno ominously relates this to the Gemara in Sanhedrin (98b), “Let [Moshiach] come, but let me not see him!”

According to Pirkei deRebbe Eliezer, “these” refers to Bnai Yishmoel, the Moslem nations. “Misumo kail,” means the ones in whom the Divine Name “Kail” is placed.  There are only two nations whose name contains the Divine Name, Yisroel and Yishmoel, and the Pirkei DeRebbe Eliezer understands Bilaam’s prophesy to mean, Who will be able to survive when Yishmoel becomes dominant in the world?

I remember vividly the “Teshuva Drasha” of Rabbi Yissachar Frand Shlita”h, when he told over this frightening prophesy only a few days after the events of 9/11/01.  America was in a state of siege; military planes were streaking overhead, and the phrase “who will survive” took on real meaning. 

Rav Chaim Vital writes that the last Exile will be Golus Yishmael: “At the end of days, Israel is destined to experience the Ishmaelite exile. This fifth and last exile will be the most difficult of all. It is the exile of [the one] who is called ‘pe’re adam, a wild man.’” (Eitz Hadas Tov on Tehillim 124) My friends, let’s make no mistake. We are there, right now. Look around. Do you see what is happening in Europe? Do you think this is coincidence? Can you not hear the footsteps of Moshiach

Hashem “creates darkness” but He also “forms light.” There is a reason for everything. As we stand on the banks of the Yarden, we should know that our Final and Complete Redemption is very near. May we see it soon in our days! 

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Roy Neuberger, author and public speaker, can be reached at roy@2020vision.co.il.

© Copyright 2016 by Roy S. Neuberger

1 comment:

Shafa Raider said...

all your struggles and roads Am Yisrael you taken never has being in vain !Stay as you are my only hope with haShem mercy. a fellow reader from the nations.