My Favorite Book of Maps

One of my favorite books is called Eleh Mas’ei by Dan Schwartz.


Why do I love this book so much?


Eleh Mas’ei is a collection of maps and satellite photos depicting the precise location of the places mentioned in the Torah. When we read Parshat Masei without the help of a Biblical map book it is very hard for us to understand where B’nai Yisrael traveled and camped when they were in the desert as well as the exact Biblical borders of the Land of Israel. Reading Parshat Masei with this book of maps really makes the Torah come alive.


When we sit in shul and listen to the Torah reading we hear a list of places, some that we may be familiar with, for example, Yam Hamelach (the Dead Sea), The Yarden (Jordan River) and The Kineret and many other places that we may not be familiar with. Living in Israel, we may recognize the names of some of the places mentioned such as Atzmon (a Yishuv) and Maaleh Akrabim from encountering them in our daily lives.


When we follow Parshat Masei with the maps, we have the opportunity to focus on the fact that the Sinai desert is not very big depite the long list of places where B’nai Yisrael camped and that the only reason that they spent 40 years circling the desert was because of the sin of the spies when B’nai Yisrael declared that they didn’t want to enter the Land of Israel and they therefore received the punishment that their generation would die in the desert and that they would not enter the Land of Israel.


The maps also help us focus on the fact that the Biblical Land of Israel is not very big and that the modern State of Israel is even smaller.


What do I like even more than reading Parshat Masei with my book of maps? I enjoy traveling the Land of Israel with a TaNaCh in hand, watching history unfold before my eyes, seeing the Torah truly come alive.


The next time that you are in Israel, I challenge you to find some of the places that you have never been to from this week’s Parsha. For those of you who are already here, you are welcome to join me, the Midreshet Devora students and some of Israel’s top scholars on out next TaNaCh Tiyul!