Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 

Parshas Mas'ei

By Dr. Nosson Chayim Leff

Sfas Emes, Zechuso Tagein Aleinu, Parshas Mas'ei, 5632

The parsha begins (33: 1 -2): "These are the journeys of Bnei Yisroel who went out of Egypt ... Moshe recorded their departures for their journeys (motza'ei'hem lemas'ei'hem) ... these were the journeys for their departures" (mas'ei'hem lemotza'ei'hem).

The Sfas Emes notes that the pasuk reverses the sequence of its key words. First it speaks of "motza'ei 'hem lemas'ei' hem"; then it speaks of "mas'ei'hem lemotza'ei'hem". The Sfas Emes explains the first sequence as reflecting a basic reality: for our story to begin, we first had to get out of Egypt. Therefore, the pasuk starts with "motza'ei'herm" -- a word that comes from the shoresh "Y'TZ'A", and hence, a word that irresistibly evokes "ye'tzi'as Mitzrayim" (our exodus from Egypt). Once we had made that break-out, we could proceed on our journeys. Apparently, our liberation from Egypt was not a "one shot" process in which once and for all, we moved to a higher stage of development in our relationship with HaShem. On the contrary, the Sfas Emes finds it relevant to observe that every "masa" (journey) took us further from Egypt. Evidently, escape from the cesspool of tum'a which Egypt was known to be had to be gradual, involving many small steps. The Sfas Emes may have inferred this point from the pasuk's use of the word "motza'ei'hem" -- plural.

Proceeding in this vein, the Sfas Emes notes that our journeys continued until we reached our goal -- Eretz Yisroel. The fact that we had this objective was crucial. For, too often, people break out from a bad situation; but lacking the right objective, go from the frying pan into the fire. Two examples come swiftly to mind. One case is the story of many Jews in the Shtetel. Reacting to the Shtetel's social inequities, they broke away from Yiddishkeit, and sought social justice -- in Stalin's tyranny. Another case involves many young Jews who broke away from the materialism of their milieu in America to seek spirituality -- in a cult.

The Sfas Emes has presented an analysis in terms of break-out ("freedom from") and journey to ("freedom to"). To conclude this paragraph, he applies this framework in a wholly new context. Thus, he uses this perspective to explain why HaShem has made gashmiyus (materialism) so attractive.

HaShem has arranged things this way so that the right reasons motivate people when they strive to come closer to Him. If gashmiyus was ugly (nivzeh), people might break away and seek HaShem because of their disgust with gashmiyus. But HaShem wants us to abandon gashmiyus and come closer to Him because He is our goal and our objective in life. That is what the pasuk means when it says: "motza'ei'hem le'mas'eihem"; that our departures -- break-outs -- be for the sake of our goals -- our journeys toward proper objectives. Now comes a last chidush, the Sfas Emes's reading of the word "mas'eihem". He tells that when a person makes the effort necessary to depart from materialism as a way of life, one person will help -- be me'sayei'a (!) -- another.


Text Copyright 2004 by Rabbi Dr. Nosson Chayim Leff and Torah.org.


 


ARTICLES ON VAYIGASH AND CHANUKAH:

View Complete List

Rabbi Frand on Parshas Vayigash
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5770

A Matter of Approaches
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5759

The Top Knot
Rabbi Label Lam - 5773

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

All in a Day's Work
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5761

Mitzvah Lamp
Rabbi Osher Chaim Levene - 5766

How Yosef Got His Job
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5774

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Piecing Together the Jigsaw Puzzle
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5773

Never Discount the Minority
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5756

Feel My Pain
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5772

> Why The Shift In Attitude?
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5774

The Cause of our Exile
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5758

Living Lessons
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5766

ArtScroll

Alas! The Therapeutic Anguish Could Not Be Completed
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5767

Chanukah Vs. Purim
Shlomo Katz - 5760

Many Routes, One Destination
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5759

Chanukah: Lights, Camera, Action!
Rabbi Osher Chaim Levene - 5768



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information