The Torah names all 42 encampments of Bnei Yisrael on their 40-year journey from the Exodus to the crossing of the Jordan River into Eretz Yisrael.
Lessons from London
“These are the journeys ………” (33:1)
I recently returned from visiting my mother in London. When I stay there I daven at the local Orthodox shul. It’s an affluent and not overly-observant community, where the emphasis seems more on the “Modern” than on the “Orthodox.” But something happened there that really impressed me. After the morning minyan, with about 20 people in attendance for the prayer service, there was a brit mila. At 8 o’clock there suddenly descended on the shul around one hundred thoroughly secular-looking ladies and gentlemen, dressed for a ball. I thought to myself, “They look so assimilated and yet they’re coming to an event that qualifies as child mutilation to many of their non-Jewish friends!”
Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel taught: "Every commandment that Israel took upon themselves with joy, as for instance brit mila, is still observed with joy, as it is written in Psalms 119:162: I rejoice over Your word.”
The Jewish People are alive and well and living — amongst other places — in London!
The last Torah portion in the Book of Bamidbar, called Masei, chronicles the journey of the Jewish People through the wilderness. The Torah lists the forty-two places where the Bnei Yisrael camped on their way to Eretz Yisrael. What is the reason for these forty-two stops in the desert? There is a mystical concept that the purpose of these encampments was for the Children of Israel to release and gather the sparks of holiness that were trapped in the desert’s emptiness. Each of these stopping places corresponds to a letter of G‑d’s Name, and so by gathering the sparks from each place, a little more of
Our Sages tell us that the mitzvah of brit mila carries with it the promise of three rewards: The eternity of the royal House of David, the dwelling of the Divine Presence on the Jewish People and the eternal ownership of the Land of Israel.