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Beit Midrash Torah Portion and Tanach Masei

Parashat Matot - Mas'ei

In but Out of Israel

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Parashat Mas'ei, and thus the book of Bamidbar, ends with a renewed discussion regarding the five daughters of Tzelafchad. This addendum to Moshe's original question about how to deal with the request of these stalwart women for their rightful inheritance in the Land of Israel is the closing scene of the trials and travails of the Jewish people in the desert. Only then does the Torah conclude the book with: "These are the commandments and the judgments which the Lord commanded by the hand of Moshe."

Contrast this with the end of the previous parasha, Matot, where inheritance is also a subject of concern. There the two-and-a-half tribes are berated by Moshe. The tribes protest: they do not wish to abandon their people. They are simply happy in the lush pastureland on the east bank of the Jordan. They are, however, ready and willing to lead the battle for the conquest of Eretz Yisrael.

These two episodes represent the dynamic tension that exists within so many of us. We want to have a portion of the Land of Israel; but we are also very comfortable outside the land. We have the things we want in life which have become the things we need in life. We are prepared to support Israel and send our children to learn there, but we continue to build ourselves homes and businesses that create more ties to the Diaspora.

The Torah alludes to a way of resolving this tension: "These are the commandments and the judgments which the Lord commanded by the hand of Moshe ..." It is very difficult to convince yourself to give up a good life-style. You can only do it out of a belief in God's commandment to Moshe that all Jews should live and flourish in the Land of Israel.

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