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פרשות מטות-מסעי
Prepared by Rabbi Stephen Texon

Dear Friends,

This week's double portion of Matot-Massei brings the book of Numbers to a close, and a welcome conclusion after the episodes of turmoil, rebellion and confusion throughout previous portions. The nation is truly tested in their journey from Sinai to the plains of Moav, the final encampment prior to crossing the Jordan river into the promised land.

They "made it" in spite of all the upheavals, plagues and punishments along the way. A new generation educated by their elders under G-d's protective hand, enabled them to reach this day. The 42 journeys and encampments are reviewed, the boundaries of the land of Israel are delineated, and the division of land among the tribes is established through a lottery system. 2 and one half of a tribes (Reuben, Gad and half of Menesseh) would settle east of the Jordan but would indeed fight for the conquest of the land and then return to fertile cattle raising pasture east of the Jordan. The Levites were to be given 42 cities in which to dwell plus 6 cities of refuge for those fleeing from revenge following an inadvertent or accidental murder.

So, at the conclusion of the book of Numbers we settle down to relative peace and quiet as we prepare to enter the promised land with it's new set of challenges. So too in the month of Av which we are entering today, may we achieve peace and tranquility following the darkness and sadness culminating in the fast of the 9th of Av. However, the darkness and destruction will lead to light and redemption, love and rebirth with the great expectation of the coming of the Moshiach. Let us be worthy of his arrival! 

Amen and Shabbat Shalom!

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