In this week’s parasha we find a puzzling verse in which the commentators all offer creative interpretations. It is said (Bamidbar 33:2) וַיִּכְתֹּב מֹשֶׁה אֶת מוֹצָאֵיהֶם לְמַסְעֵיהֶם עַל פִּי יְ-ה-וָ-ה וְאֵלֶּה מַסְעֵיהֶם לְמוֹצָאֵיהֶם, Moshe wrote their goings forth according to their journeys at the bidding of HaShem, and these were their journeys according to their goings forth. What does it mean their goings forth?
The Gemara (Brachos 8a) states that when a couple married in Eretz Yisroel, people would say מצא or מוצא, did he find, i.e. (Mishlei 18:22) מָצָא אִשָּׁה מָצָא טוֹב, one who has found a wife has found goodness, or was it (Koheles 7:26) וּמוֹצֶא אֲנִי מַר מִמָּוֶת אֶת הָאִשָּׁה, and I have discovered more bitter than death; the woman… We see from here that the word מוֹצֶא alludes to death.
When the Jews left Egypt, the Torah tells us (Bamidbar 33:4) וּמִצְרַיִם מְקַבְּרִים אֵת אֲשֶׁר הִכָּה יְ-ה-וָ-ה בָּהֶם כָּל בְּכוֹר וּבֵאלֹהֵיהֶם עָשָׂה יְ-ה-וָ-ה שְׁפָטִים, and the Egyptians were burying those among them whom HaShem had struck, every firstborn; and on their gods HaShem had inflicted punishments. Furthermore, the Jews had also been recently been engaged in burying their dead, as four fifths of the Jews in Egypt died because they were wicked. This, then is the meaning of the words “Moshe wrote their goings forth according to their journeys at the bidding of HaShem, and these were their journeys according to their goings forth.” When they left Egypt they left with their “goings forth,” they exited the the death arena and embarked on a journey to freedom from death. Had the Jews not worshiped the Golden Calf, they would have been free from the clutches of the Angel of Death. On account of their sins, including the sin of the spies, they proceeded on their journeys according to their goings forth, as all men above 20 and under 60 died in the Wilderness.
This idea is very sobering. Man begins his life with the potential to become free, which is reflected by our Sages in one who is preoccupied with the study of Torah. Yet, the forces of evil, with their diabolical schemes, lie in wait, hoping to ensnare the Jew and wreak havoc on his soul. HaShem should allow us to awaken from our slumber and engage in pursuits that will lead to our freedom, with the arrival of Moshiach Tzidkeinu, speedily, in our days.
Have an awesome Shabbos, an ecstatic Rosh Chodesh, and חזק חזק ונתחזק!