Questions and Concepts for Matot-Masei
(Numbers 30:2 - 36:13)
  1. One of this week’s Torah Parshas is called "Masei" which means "journeys." This is of course associated with the segments of their journey out of Egypt to the Land of Israel. The Parsha however, tells us not so much of the "journeying" but rather of the stops they made along the way – 42 in all.
  2. Egypt was called "Mitzrayim" by the Hebrews, meaning "a place of confinement." How were the Jews confined in their ability to serve God while in Egypt? If we think in personal terms, these 42 stages can be said to mirror our own lives as we journey from our own personal "exodus from Egypt" toward our destination, which would be the spiritual counterpart of the Land of Israel. What are some of the physical, mental and emotional "Egypts" that we pass through in life?
  3. At Sinai they received the Torah, which gave them the freedom to serve God. Consider what Ya’acov ("James") meant when he wrote, "But he who looks into the perfect Torah of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does." (Ya’acov 1:25)
  4. The 42 segments of the Hebrew’s journey had both "good" and "bad" moments, which were all part of their spiritual growth. How can what appear to be "bad" events in our own journey be seen as having a positive reason for occurring? How does this mirror what Rabbi Sha’ul (Paul) meant when he wrote, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28)?
  5. Sometimes we may "fail" at certain junctures of our spiritual journey. This is where teshuvah ("repentance") comes into play. How can someone who falls (through sin) and ascends (through teshuvah) rise to even greater spiritual heights than someone who did not go through this process?
  6. It is said that the Torah was given due to sin. How can this be seen in the law of taking of oaths? Compare this to what Yeshua said of the Torah’s laws concerning divorce in Matthew 19:8? Compare what Solomon says in Ecclesiastes 5:5-7 to what Yeshua says in Matthew 5:33-37.
  7. Upon nearing the Land of Israel, the tribes of Reuben and Gad, plus a portion of Mennasah, indicated a desire to settle apart from the other tribes, outside the Land of Israel. Later, when Israel went into exile, these same tribes were the first to be taken into captivity (I Chronicles 5:26). What does this teach us about God's desire for "unity among the brethren?"
    As the Jews progressed along the 42 legs of their journey, things did not necessarily get any "easier" for them. As they went forward, there were less and less "overt miracles" and more effort was required on their part. Note that the Torah tells us (in the "Shema" – Deuteronomy 6:5), "And you shall love the Lord your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your resources." The Shema can also be seen as "going from easiest to hardest." First we love God emotionally, which can come with little effort. Then we seek Him out in study and prayer, which takes some labor on our part. Finally we "put it on the line" by showing our love for him is more important that material possessions.