The double-sidrah of Mattot and Massei has the longest verse-count of any Shabbat reading (244 in all).

But approximately 40 of the verses are short and concise, simply listing the stopping-points of the Israelites as they travelled through the wilderness on their way to the Promised Land.

Some of the locations listed are familiar to us from earlier passages in the Torah, while others are not and the classic commentators discuss why such a roster of place names is required altogether.

Some of the commentators also address the question as to why each place must be mentioned twice, as the Torah repeatedly states that the Israelites journeyed from one location and camped at a second location and then that they journeyed from the second location and camped at a third location.

Considering the relative obscurity of some of these places, the text could have been more economical and simply stated that the Children of Israel went from a first location to a second location, and then moved on again to a third and fourth location.

A lesson that we can derive from the repeated use of the phrases "they journeyed from" and "they camped at" is that the distance travelled is as important as the destination that is reached. This is true spiritually as much as it is true geographically.

Every Jew finds themselves on a spiritual journey and each individual ends up at their own personalised location.

The best way of assessing the success and meaning of that journey is not by comparing our own particular co-ordinates with those of the people around us, but by looking at where our starting point was and where we hoped to arrive.

For some people a short journey will be arduous, whereas others, who perhaps started from an easier point of embarcation, will need to travel much further in order that their journey will be significant and meaningful.

Rabbi Daniel Roselaar

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