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Parashat Masei / פרשת מסעי

Crop of Moses Elects the Council of Seventy Elders by Jacob de Wit


Parashat Masei is the 43rd weekly reading in the annual Torah reading cycle, and the 10th and final reading of Bamidbar (“Numbers”). Masei (מַסְעֵי) means journeys and is the second word of the parashah, in which Moshe (Moses) records the 42 stages of the journeys of Bnei Yisrael (the Children of Israel) through the wilderness after leaving Mitzrayim (Egypt), until they encamped on the plains of Moav (Moab).

Parashat Masei continues with HaShem’s instructions to Bnei Yisrael through Moshe regarding the taking possession of the land of Kena’an (Canaan) and what is to be done with the inhabitants of the land and their idols, after the people imminently cross HaYarden (the Jordan River). Detailed instructions are also given as to the precise borders of the land of Yisrael, as well as the division of the land among the tribes of Yisrael. HaShem further appoints princes by name from the tribes to administer the division of the land for inheritance among the people of Yisrael.

HaShem further commands the people of Yisrael to give 48 cities to the Leviim (Levites) to possess and dwell in among them, together with surrounding pastureland for their animals. Precise measurements are provided for the dimensions of the surrounding pasturelands. Of the 48 Levi cities, six are to be used as Arei HaMiklat (the Cities of Refuge), where someone may flee if they have killed a person accidentally. HaShem provides precise instructions as to who qualifies as a manslayer and who is guilty of murder, and reinforces the commandment that a murderer is to be put to death on the testimony of two or three witnesses.

Parashat Masei concludes with a question about whether lands in Yisrael inherited by a man’s daughter, if a man dies without sons, may be transferred from his tribe to another when his daughter marries. Moshe acknowledges the validity of the question and provides the answer according to the word of HaShem.

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Torah Portion: Numbers 33:1 – 36:13

1st Aliyah: Numbers 33:1-10 (10 verses)
2nd Aliyah: Numbers 33:11-49 (39 verses)
3rd Aliyah: Numbers 33:50-34:15 (22 verses)
4th Aliyah: Numbers 34:16-29 (14 verses)
5th Aliyah: Numbers 35:1-8 (8 verses)
6th Aiyah: Numbers 35:9-34 (26 verses)
7th Aliyah: Numbers 36:1-13 (13 verses)
Maftir: Numbers 36:11-13 (3 verses)

Reading from the Nevi’im (Prophets):
Traditional Ashkenazi Reading: Jeremiah 2:4-28,3:4
Traditional Sephardic Reading: Jeremiah 2:4-28,4:1-4:2

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Artwork: Crop of “Moses Elects the Council of Seventy Elders” by Jacob de Wit


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