One may consider the reading of the journeys of the Jewish People in the Wilderness irrelevant to our daily lives, but I am always fascinated by the number of journeys, which is 42. The Malbim and others point out that there is a Name of HaShem that has 42 letters, and the journeyer of the Jewish People in the Wilderness correspond to this Name. What relevance does this have to our lives?
It is noteworthy that the Gemara (Sota 13a) states that while journeying in the Wilderness, the nations of the world would observe that the Jewish People were carrying two boxes, one that contained the bones of Yosef and the other that contained the Luchos. The nations wondered, “what is the significance of these two arks? The Jewish People responded, “this one, i.e. Yosef, fulfilled what is said in this one, i.e. the Torah.” This entire episode is cryptic. Why were the nations questioning the need for these two boxes, and what was the response?
Perhaps we can suggest that it is said regarding Yosef (Bereishis 37:2) וְהוּא נַעַר אֶת בְּנֵי בִלְהָה וְאֶת בְּנֵי זִלְפָּה נְשֵׁי אָבִיו, but he was a youth with the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives. When rearranging the letters of the word בִלְהָה, the word לֶהָבָה, flame, which is what Yosef is compared to (Ovadiah 1:18). We can suggest that although the simple translation of the verse is that Yosef was “playing around” with his half-brothers, in a deeper sense, Yosef was experimenting with the forty-two letter Name of HaShem. We can now better understand the Gemara that stares that the Jewish People responded to the Nations that “the one inside this box has fulfilled what is in this box, i.e. Yosef knew and actualized the Names of HaShem. Throughout history, righteous Jews have utilized the Names of HaShem for various reasons. It would follow that in the Wilderness, the Jewish People knew and utilized the Names of HaShem to their advantage, both in attaining lofty spiritual heights and in warding off their enemies. With a cursory perusal of this week’s parasha we find many hints to the forty-two letter Name of HaShem. Here are a few examples:
(The hints are contained in the bolded letters)
- אֵלֶּה מַסְעֵי בְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֲשֶׁר יָצְאוּ מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם לְצִבְאֹתָם בְּיַד מֹשֶׁה וְאַהֲרֹן
- וַיִּסְעוּ מֵרַעְמְסֵס בַּחֹדֶשׁ הָרִאשׁוֹן
Furthermore, after the sin of the spies, the Jewish People were determined to ascend to Eretz Yisroel, and Moshe attempted to dissuade them, saying (Bamidbar 14:42) אַל תַּעֲלוּ כִּי אֵין יְ-הֹ-וָ-ה בְּקִרְבְּכֶם, “Do not ascend, for HaShem is not in your midst!” The first and last letters of the word בְּקִרְבְּכֶם are the letters מ”ב, and the remaining letters spell out the word קרבך, in your midst. Moshe was alluding to these rebels that HaShem’s forty-two letter Name was not in them and they would not be successful in their journey.
While we do not profess knowledge of HaShem’s Holy Names, we do know that HaShem’s Name is within every single one of us, and HaShem has given the Jewish People power unlike any other nation. Throughout the long exile we have been fortified by HaShem’s Name, protecting us and uplifting us to ever greater heights. With the onset of the Nine Days, when HaShem is close to us, we should capitalize on the opportunity to cleave to HaShem and His Torah, and then we will merit the fulfillment of the verse that is said (Ovadiah 1:21) וְעָלוּ מוֹשִׁעִים בְּהַר צִיּוֹן לִשְׁפֹּט אֶת הַר עֵשָׂו וְהָיְתָה לַי-ה-וָ-ה הַמְּלוּכָה, and saviors shall ascend Mount Zion to judge the mountain of Esav, and HaShem shall have the kingdom.
Have a Shabbos CONNECTED TO HASHEM’S NAMES!
Erev Shabbos Kodesh Inspiration Matos-Masei 5776
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