Parshas Masei

Thanks to R’ Meir Deutsch for another guest post.

Parashat Mas’e

מאיר דויטש             © כל הזכויות שמורות

These are the names of the men who shall share out the land to you: El’azar the priest, and Yehushua the son of Nun.

We just finished with the twelve tribe’s presidents returning from Eretz Cna’an. The revolt of Korach, Datan and Aviram has been settled. We had thirst again, and Moshe hits the rock with his stick instead of talking to it. For that, he and his brother Aharon get punished: “Because you did not believe in me, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Yisra’el, therefore you shall not bring the congregation in to the land which I have given them.” (Bemidbar 20, 12)

We know that Moshe wanted very much to enter the promised land. He even tells it to Bne Israel: “And I besought the Lord {…} I pray thee, let me go over, and see the good land that is beyond the Yarden, that goodly mountain region end the Levanon…” (Devarim 3, 25). But he continues, saying to them that because of them he will not enter it: “But the Lord was angry with me for your sakes, and would not hear me…” (ibid, ibid 26).

Let us see what Rashi says about Me Mriva:

” […] כדי שלא יאמרו בעבור דור המדבר נגזר עליהם שלא ייכנסו”.

Doesn’t this Rashi seem a bit puzzled? In parashat HaMeraglim G-d says who is going to enter the promised land; is Moshe one of them? It is public knowledge who is going to enter. What Rashi says here is that Moshe and Aharon were punished, as the rest of Bne Israel, to die in the desert, because of the Meraglim, but G-d wants to exclude them from the whole Edah and finds for them another sin  – Me Merivah.

Was the punishment of perishing in the desert given to all the adults of over 20 years? Was anyone, beside Kalev and Yehoshua, excluded from this punishment?

After looking into these events, I came across Parashat Mas’e and the Pasuk in the caption: “These are the names of the men who shall share out the land to you: El’azar the priest, and Yehushua the son of Nun. (Bemidbar 34, 17)

and I asked myself: how come that El’azar Hakohen will enter the promised land and not perish in the desert as the rest?

After seeing that El’azar will enter Cna’an I went back to Parashat HaMeraglim and looked up the twelve heads of the tribes that went to Eretz Cna’an. There was no representative of the tribe of Levi in that delegation that went to Cna’an. That tribe did not go scouting the land, therefore that tribe was not one of the scouts that  הוציאו דיבת הארץ רעה

If so, than that tribe did not sin, and if it did not sin, that tribe was probably not sentenced to perish in the desert, and will be entering the promised land.

Looking back  at Parshat Korach, we can get some support to our theory. There, Korach, as a Levi, wants to rule or even be the leader, but he does not complain, like Datan and Aviram who are from the tribe of Reuven. Korach knows that his tribe is not going to perish in the desert and challenges only Moshe’s leadership. Datan and Aviram know that they are going to die in the dessert, and attack Moshe on ground of a broken promise: “Moreover thou hast not brought us to a land flowing with milk and honey, nor given us inheritance of fields and vineyards…” (Bemidbar 16, 14).

I was looking for more support for my assumption that the tribe of Levi was not sentenced not to enter the land of Milk and Honey and die in the dessert.

At the counting of the tribes in the prairies of Moav on the river Jordan, just before entering the promised land we find written: “But among these there was not a man of them whom Moshe and Aharon the priest numbered, when they numbered the children of Yisra’el in the wilderness of Sinay. (Bemidbar 26, 64-65).

Does this statement include the tribe of Levi? It says:  מפקודי […] בני ישראל במדבר סיני .  If we look at the counting of the tribes in the desert of Sinai we see that the tribe of Levi was excluded, was not counted amongst the other tribes: “But the Levites after the tribe of their fathers were not numbered among them.” (Bemidbar 1, 47), therefore, we can deduct from it, that only the one that were counted in the wilderness of Sinay did perish מפקודי […] בני ישראל במדבר סיני    , and as the tribe of Levi was not counted in the desert of Sinay, some of them, definitely Elazar, did enter Eretz Cna’an.

Moshe and Aharon needed another sin not to enter Cna’an – Me Meriva.



Author: pitputim

For most of my life, I've enjoyed being a computer science professor in Melbourne, Australia, as well as band leader/singer for the Schnapps Band. That being said, being a Zayda trumps it all. My high schooling was in Chabad and I continued at Yeshivat Kerem B'Yavneh in Israel.

3 thoughts on “Parshas Masei”

  1. Are you not assuming that the Chet Hameraglim for Moshe and Aaron was the SAME as for everyone else. Perhaps, in this case it was a situation of failed leadership. Levi might well have thought the same as the other tribes, but given that they didn’t have land, they were at the behest of the other tribes and content that the Heads of those Tribes would bring back (an honest?) report. Moshe and Aaron were leaders of a generation who had seen spiritually affect their material needs almost at any time they asked for it. Moshe himself said that the reason he wanted to enter was NOT because he saw himself as the next leader, but rather the spiritual lift which can be attained by doing Mitzvos he had been unable to do in the Desert. He was still the prototypical spiritual and Godly man, and his brother Aaron, was as Hashem described him, Sheves Achim Gam Yachad (although he had a different approach to people). Yehoshua did shimush under Moshe, which means he had the Mesora and was chosen to continue it into Israel. There HAD to be someone who was the B’aal HaMesora. Kalev didn’t think he had it, which is why he went specifically to pray at Kivrei Tzadikim on his own, to strengthen himself for the task at hand. It could well be that Levi was spared not because they all disagreed with the Meraglim. They were perhaps the tribe of Mesora, the tribe that could tell the young ones about the old days. Indeed, this is perhaps a reason why all the stops are mentioned. If you want to teach someone where to head, you can’t ignore the past. You must look at each stop on the way, learn its lessons, and then go forward. In psychology there are two schools of thought: one says, forget the past, and you will be okay, you will have a fresh start. Another school of thought says come to grips with your past, cloak yourself within in, allow yourself to be influenced by the past, and then define your future.


    1. Word out of Israel a few minutes ago is that there is a very dangerous operation about to commence and it is expected רחמנא לצלן that there will be many who will perish חס ושלום.
      If you can spare some extra moments of Tefilla, or Tzedoko or do good deeds (Teshuva) let us be immediately be spared from רוע הגזרה and that וכל קרני רשעים אגדע


    2. What I wanted to point out is that according to what we can see in Sefer Bemidbar the tribe of Levi was not punished to perish in the desert as the other tribes. The proof is in Elazar, that crossed the river and went into the promised land.
      If we accept that the tribe of Levi was not punished, the Me-Meriva took out Moshe and Aharon from the unpunished tribe and punished them for hitting the rock. I agree with you that it was a situation of failed leadership of Moshe and Aharon. This actually gives us a clue why was Aharon punished at Me-Meriva. G-d did not speak to him, and did not confide in him how to get water from a rock. It was not Aharon who hit the rock. Wasn’t Moshe “pushed” to use his stick? “Take the rod, and gather the assembly together […] and speak to the rock”. And later: ” And Moshe took the rod from before the Lord, as he commanded him.” Why was he commanded to take the rod if the key was to “speak to the rock”? Moshe had already experience how to get water from a rock by hitting it. Was not G-d sanctified by the mere act of getting the water from the rock – no matter in which way it was done? The conclusion of the event says it: “[…] and he was sanctified by them.”
      What the tribe of Levi thought at that time I do not know. The report of the Meraglim was an honest report. Even supported by Kalev and Yehoshua, who just said: “Only rebel not against the Lord”.
      שלשה אמרו אמת ונאבדו מן העולם נחש ומרגלים ודואג. (תולדות יצחק בראשית פרק ב) .
      Yehoshua obtained experience serving under Moshe, but his appointment was by G-d’s order.
      Moshe knew that Yehoshua will lead the people into Cna’an. He was ordered to strengthen him. Moshe wanted to see the land [full stop]: “I pray thee, let me go over, and see the good land that is beyond the Yarden […]”. G-d actually granted him his wish (partially): “Go up to the top of the Pisga, and lift up thy eyes westward, and northward, and southward, and eastward, and behold with thy eyes […]”. Moshe saw the land, but did not cross the river.
      I did not find anywhere that the tribe of Levi was the tribe of Mesora. We even do not see them mentioned in Mesechet (Pirke) Avot.


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