Translation by Yehoshua Siskin
Why are there commentators who claim that the book of Numbers is the most important among the five books of Moses? In the book of Genesis, the world is created; in the book of Exodus, we leave Egypt; in the book of Leviticus, the desert sanctuary is set up with great festivity; in the book of Deuteronomy, Moshe Rabbeinu delivers an emotional farewell speech.
The book of Numbers, by contrast, is characterized by numerous short yet significant stories about the journey to the Land of Israel. There are ups and downs, moments of crisis and moments of song. This is a book about what happens in the routine of everyday life. Yet, in the end, our lives are made up primarily of such successes and failures and not from one-time climactic moments.
This Shabbat we read the two final Torah portions in the book of Numbers – Matot-Massei. Throughout the journey, the children of Israel learned and we learned about faith in the road we have taken, about the eternity of the Torah, about lies and deceptive propaganda, and also about the importance of a common vision.
It appears that this book is the most relevant to our present situation, in the 74th year of the State of Israel. These are no longer the crisis years of the Holocaust or the climactic War of Independence. Today our aspiration is simply to establish a lifetime routine full of goodness and blessings.
May it be God's will to instill within us the words we declare in the synagogue at the conclusion of every one of the five books of Moses: "Chazak Chazak V'nitzchazek.
Be strong, be strong, and let us strengthen one another!".