The JPS Rashi Discussion Torah Commentary

By Steven; Sarah Levy | Go to book overview

MASE’EI

❖ A Matter of Perspective
A common charitable appeal states: “For less than the daily cost of a cup of coffee, you can make a difference in the life of a needy child.” This fundraising approach is effective in part because it takes a large sum that people may be reluctant to give and breaks it down into several small amounts that people regard as insignificant. Such reframing—seeing something from a different perspective—calls to mind the opening verse of Parashat Mase’ei, which lists all the places the Jews encamped during their forty years in the wilderness.

These were the marches of the Israelites who started out
from the land of Egypt, troop by troop, in the charge of Mo-
ses and Aaron. (Num. 33:1)

Rashi addresses why the Torah recounts all the Jews’ travels:

These were the marches: Why were these journeys recorded?
To make known the kindness of the Omnipresent, for al-
though He decreed to move them around and make them
wander in the desert, do not say that they were moving
about and wandering from journey to journey for all forty
years and they had no rest, because there are only forty-
two journeys here. Deduct fourteen of them, which all took
place in the first year before the decree [of wandering]….
Subtract a further eight journeys, which took place after
Aaron’s death … during the fortieth year, and you will
find that throughout the thirty-eight years they made only
twenty journeys. (Rashi, Num. 33:1)

Rashi reframes God’s decree of wandering, intended as divine punishment, as an expression of divine mercy; because the majority of the Israelites’ travels occurred in the first and last years, God was exhibiting kindness by letting the people remain at rest for much of their desert sojourn.Rashi reminds us that each of us is equipped with a powerful tool to reassess a situation by changing our perspective.
Questions for Discussion
1. Describe a situation that has been challenging for you to accept or handle. How might you reframe it?
2. Is there a challenge facing the Jewish people that you could view more positively by reframing it? If yes, how could you see it in a different light?

-144-

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The JPS Rashi Discussion Torah Commentary
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents vii
  • Preface xiii
  • Introduction - Introducing Rashi xv
  • Genesis 1
  • Bere’shit 3
  • NoaḤ 6
  • Lekh Lekha 9
  • Va-Yera’ 12
  • Hayyei Sarah 15
  • Toledot 18
  • Va-Yetse’ 21
  • Va-YishlaḤ 24
  • Va-Yeshev 27
  • Mikkets 30
  • Va-Yiggash 33
  • Va-YeḤi 36
  • Exodus 39
  • Shemot 41
  • Val-‘Era’ 44
  • Bo’ 47
  • Be-ShallaḤ 50
  • Yitro 53
  • Mishpatim 56
  • Terumah 59
  • Tetsavveh 62
  • Ki Tissa’ 65
  • Va-Yak’Hel 68
  • Pekudei 71
  • Leviticus 75
  • Va-Yikra’ 77
  • Tsav 80
  • Shemini 83
  • Tazria’ 86
  • Metsora’ 90
  • ’AḤarei Mot 93
  • Kedoshim 97
  • ‘Emor 100
  • Be-Har 103
  • Be-Ḥukkotai 106
  • Numbers 111
  • Be-Midbar 113
  • Naso’ 116
  • Be-Ha’Alotekha 120
  • ShelaḤ-Lekha 123
  • KoraḤ 127
  • Ḥukkat 130
  • Balak 134
  • PinḤas 138
  • Mattot 141
  • Mase’Ei 144
  • Deuteronomy 147
  • Devarim 149
  • Va-EtḤannan 152
  • ‘Ekev 156
  • Re’Eh 160
  • Shofetim 163
  • Ki Tetse’ 167
  • Ki Tavo’ 171
  • Nits Avim/Va-Yelekh 174
  • Ha’Azinu 177
  • Ve-Zo’t Ha-Berakhah 181
  • Subject Index 185
  • Index of Sources 189
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