David Kolinsky
David Kolinsky

Masae: Traveling through life in fits and starts

These are the travels of those of the behaviors of making a sustained survey of the many things advancing forward in experience (Israel). They went out from the disposing of oneself (land) to the act of feverishly focusing upon the many things narrowing in of experience (Mitsraim) through the hand of the person’s drawing out particular things from amidst the many stirring things encountered in experience and the act of repetitively bringing things to light (Aharon).

The act of feverishly focusing upon the many things narrowing in of experience (Mitsraim) was channeling (burying) the things in experience that were welling forth (of them)(firstborn) that God’s bringing forth of existence had struck upon among them and God’s bringing forth of existence had made pronouncements of clarification with their guidance. Then they (Israel) were moving forward as a result of the becoming shaken and compelled by the things that were rearing up in experience (Ramses) toward the seeing of an entangled mess of experience more clearly with a keen perception (Sukkot); and then to the remaining undecided, stunned and dazed in wondering about experience (Aetam), which was upon the edge of the being barraged by a flash flood of experience (wilderness). And it (God’s bringing forth of existence) was settling in, upon the coming in of things that were clear and evident (Pi haHhirot) that was concerning the many things being presented as a result of the person’s probing what was covering the surface of the scene (על פני בעל צפון). And they were establishing a mental presence with respect to the many things being presented as a result of the intricate and elaborate interweave of experience (Migdal).

After that they were crossing into the midst of what was forcefully pushing in (בתוך) of what was stirred up of experience (sea), moving toward the being barraged by a flash flood of experience (wilderness). They were threshing through what was dangling of many stirring things (on the way three days) into the being barraged by a flash flood of experience (wilderness), establishing a mental presence with the feelings of bitterness (Marah). Then they were coming in, moving toward being silenced and growing stronger, with greater resolve (Aelim). There were many starts of taking the initiative, an urge to drive in and bear down, acts of making observations of what was stirred up of experience (twelve wells of water), and many things bubbling up (seventy) — as a result of acts of standing firmly and making observations for the sake of eventually utilizing the information attained in order to take action (palm trees). Then they were establishing a mental presence with what was stirred in experience (sea), one of looking out expectantly and longingly (Suph).

After that they were establishing a mental presence with the being barraged by a flash flood of experience (wilderness) of what was intensely bright and imposing (סין); then they were moving toward repeatedly pushing oneself (Daphqah); but then with feeling frustrated (Alush); and then with the many acts of restlessly roaming about (R’phidim) where there was nothing of interest stirred up (water) for the person’s being mindful of the many things crowding from experience (people) to align with (drink). Nevertheless, they were then moving on and establishing a mental presence with the being barraged by a flash flood of experience (wilderness) of showing restraint in filtering and clarifying experience (Sinai); and then with the acts of burying one’s desires (Taawah); and then to the being narrowed in and besieged by many things in experience (Hhatsarot); but then with moving forward with low energy and effort (Ritmah).

However, after that they were establishing a mental presence with the act of repetitively arching upward so as to devote oneself, breaching one’s own resistance to act (Rimon Perets); and then with the act of moving toward repetitively drawing oneself out, so as to endeavor and throw oneself forward into experience (Libhnah); and then to the act of driving into experience by exerting one’s power (Risah); and then to moving toward compiling information about experience in order to consider it (Q’haelatah); and then the act of bringing to light repeated instructions regarding what to do (Har Shapher); but then moving toward becoming agitated and trembling (Hharadah).

However, after that they were establishing a mental presence with acts of considering the information that had been compiled (Maqhaelot); but then with feeling beneath the experience and inadequate (Tahhat); and then with feeling sad, holding back and hesitating (Tarahh); and then with procrastination (Mitqah); and then with feeling ashamed in holding oneself back (Hhashmonah); and then with thoughts of self chastisement and self contempt (Mosaerot); and then with the behaviors of twisting oneself about with recalcitrance and rebelliousness (Bnae Ya’aqan); and then with the prodding of oneself so as to drag oneself along (Hhor haGidgad); and then with gradually forcing oneself to well upward and show goodwill toward experience (Yat’bhathah); and then with moving toward repetitively passing through experience (Abhronah); and then with the act of repetitively striving and pushing oneself to be strong and prevail (Etsion Gabher); and then with the being barraged by a flash flood of experience (wilderness) of holding back, expressing doubts, yet thinking oneself capable (Tsin) – which is the dedication to move forward (Qadaesh).

They were then establishing a mental presence with what could be seen as a result of the act of bringing things into view (Hor haHar), upon the edge of the disposing of oneself (land) to the act of being mentally absorbed with experience (Edom). The person’s repeatedly bringing things to light (Aharon) ascended there and was completely brought out into experience (died). Thereafter, the ability to draw into what was oppressively drawing in from experience (Canaanite) was attentive to things. It was an act of deliberating over experience (king) of driving into experience without restraint (Arad). It was settling into the act of hovering over experience and to distinguish things so as to make a selection (Negev), with the coming in of the behaviors of making a sustained survey of the many things advancing forward in experience (Israel).

However, after that they were establishing a mental presence with the act of moving toward feeling repetitively overwhelmed by abundant possibilities (Tsalmonah); and then with turning every which way, jumbled, in trying to set a priority regarding what to do (Punon); and then with the many acts of taking notice of things in desiring to give over of oneself to experience (Obhot); and then with the twists and turns of many things passing through (Iyaey Abharim), which was on the boundary of a person’s yearning to give forth to something in taking notice of things (Moab). Then they were establishing a mental presence with the act of repetitively, expeditiously and tirelessly streaming into a scene (Dybhon) of one’s exuberantly trickling through a scene, revealing things and then splitting off to take seriously and investigate a particular thing (Gad); and then a state of vigorous passion, moving toward over-extending oneself (Almon Dibhlathaymah).

Afterwards, they were establishing a mental presence with acts of bringing to light the many things passing through of experience (Haraey haAbharim), with regard to the many things being presented as a result of the act of observing and paying attention to particular things (before N’bho). Finally, they were establishing a mental presence with the extensiveness of experience associated with ones yearning to give forth to something in taking notice of things (plains of Moab), upon the act of continuously accruing things from experience (Yardaen) of its going back and forth (Y’richo). Then they were establishing a mental presence upon the act of continuously accruing things from experience (Yardaen) from what was coming in (Baet) of the things put forth in experience (Y’shimot), unto the yielding of the acts of going back and forth with the extensiveness of experience associated with the yearning to give forth to something in taking notice of things (Moab).

When conquering Canaan

The allegorical retelling of the Israelites journey was one of fits and starts. Even in the end, they find themselves with the extensiveness of experience associated with the yearning to give forth of oneself to experience in taking notice of many things (plains of Moab). Since the word for inhabitants (יושבים) literally means “those settled down,” they represent a person’s reluctance to engage experience. For this reason, Moshe is instructed to tell the Israelites to conquer the acts of being settled down of one’s disposing oneself to experience (land) – to eliminate all of their ways of being hedged in (idols of jeweled settings) and the shadow images of their merely glimpsing at things (images of their castings). Furthermore, they were to extirpate from their minds their procrastinating-thoughts (high places). For if they do not conquer the acts of being settled down (inhabitants) then they would be regarded as things hedging in one’s ability to make observations (pricks in the eyes) and as restraints with ones intentions (thorns in one’s sides).

Boundaries of Canaan

Nevertheless, despite our fits and starts, God knows that eventually, upon one’s applying oneself, a person will come into the disposing of oneself to what oppressively draws in of experience (land of Canaan). The Torah’s description of the bounds of one’s disposing of oneself to what oppressively draws in of experience is divided into four parts: one’s hovering over a scene and making distinctions for the purpose of making a selection (Negev-south), what is stirred up in experience (Yam-west), one’s pondering over what lies on the surface of experience (Tsaphon-north), and one’s progressing forward in experience (Qaedmah-east).

Due to word limits, let’s just look more closely at the beginning and the end. Just before a person engages experience they find themselves on the side lines, hovering over a scene and distinguishing between things so as to make a selection (פאת נגב). This occurs because of the being barraged by a flash flood of experience (wilderness) of holding back, expressing doubts, yet thinking oneself capable (Tsin) concerning the many branchings (ידי) of being mentally absorbed with experience (Edom). Nevertheless, if a person is to move forward in life, the degree to which one makes observations needs to be bound: as a result of the cutting off (end) of what is stirred up (sea) of the act of trying to balance out one’s thoughts (מלח salt), moving toward the act of advancing forward (קדמה east).

The Torah’s description of the boundaries of a person’s disposing oneself to experience (land) both start and end at the sea of salt (ים המלח). The word for salt (מלח MeLaHh) evolved from the root MaLaH (מלה to fray > crumble). However, there is another word (מלח MeLaHh) from (לוח LaWaHh to cling) that means “to cling > balance as a sailor.” So while allegorically the word can mean to strike a balance between opposing forces or views, in Arabic the sense of clinging comes to mean commitment. While a person’s disposing oneself to experience must begin with the cutting off of one’s attempts to balance out one’s thoughts (קצה ים המלח), actually taking action requires a stirring up of one’s ability to make a commitment (ים המלח). This final step begins with one’s designating for oneself what is desired (התאוה) the bounds by which one wishes to advance forward in experience (גבול קדמה), as a result of what is narrowed in upon of one’s repeatedly making observations (חצר עינן), moving toward being on the brink of taking action (שפמה). However, from there toward the act of dragging oneself along (רבלה), as a result of the blocking with regard to the observations made (מקדם לעין). Eventually, one must strike out upon (מחה) that which compellingly presses in (כתף shoulder) of what is stirred up (sea) of what draws in of experience (Kineret), moving ahead (eastward). Once this has occurred, we can find ourselves at the stirring up of making a commitment (ים המלח).

Names of the Men Inheriting the Land

Of course, in order for a person to inherit the act of disposing oneself to experience (land), there are certain behaviors required. These are represented by the names of the men — the acts of putting oneself forth (names) of the acts of applying oneself in experience (men). To name just a few: one’s advancing forward with initiative, becoming involved with the things that are around (El’azar), the act of giving things in experience precise and mindful attention (priest); one’s dwelling upon the extensiveness of God’s bringing forth of existence with endurance (Y’hoshua bin Nun); one’s doggedly closing in upon something in experience, seizing it and not letting go; a behavior of being directed to face something (Kalaev ben Y’phunah); one’s deeply investigating a scene so as to become familiar with it, a behavior of revealing things (Buqy ben Yagly); one’s establishing a mental presence with what advances forward in experience, characterized by the person’s becoming acquainted with the scene (Hhaniel ben Aephod); and one’s remaining firm with what advances forward in experience, characterized by one’s repetitively making clarifying judgments about experience (Qumiel ben Shiphtan).

Levite lands of settlement

The ultimate goal is to engage with experience. The Torah designates a special responsibility to the tribe of Levi to aid in this endeavor. After the Israelites make a general survey of experience, they must give forth for one’s mentally clinging to a scene and thus generating an awareness of many startling things (Levi), from what is inherited from experience of their seizing upon things perceived. These are the things that are stirred up in experience (cities) – for the sake of settling in and engaging experience – and what is challenging that must be repeatedly driven into (מגרש) with regard to what is stirred up in experience (cities). The things that are challenging that must be repeatedly driven into (מגרש) are for their pushing into to experience so as to make observations (cattle), regarded as what is to accumulated by them and hitched onto (property), and for their behaving in a lively way (wild animals).

Cities of refuge:

Along with its Semitic sister languages, the Hebrew language is fascinating especially with regard to the range of meanings that each triliteral root can convey. With regards to the cities of refuge, the word for refuge is MiQLaT (מקלט). This root literally means “to draw up and inward.” Hence the word QaLuT (קלוט) means one with a scrotal hernia or one with an amputated limb. A city of refuge is one that draws a person up and inward — allegorically it represents a stirred up situation (city) that clutches and intercepts a person, drawing inward, so that that experience can be engaged. The word for murderer is RoTsae’aHh (רוצח) – it literally means “one who runs through and demolishes another.” In Arabic, the passive cognate means “one who is demolished, subdued and meek.” The Torah states that “the cities of refuge shall be for you so that a murderer, one who has struck a living-soul inadvertently, will flee toward there.” Allegorically, this means: “the stirring situations of clutching and intercepting a person, drawing inward, shall be for you so that one who is demolished, subdued and meek – one who has struck down (his) spirit — stumbling about experience, will take off, moving toward an act of putting oneself forth and applying oneself in experience.”

Concerns of Gilad regarding daughters of Tsalaphahhad

At the conclusion of the book of B’midbar, the narrative addresses the concerns of the children of Gilad that they will lose a portion of the inheritance of their fathers if the daughters of Tsalaphahhad marry into other tribes. Tsalaphachad (צלפחד) represents a person’s agitatedly looking about in many directions. His lack of sons and his having only daughters both symbolize his wandering about experience, not yet engaging with any particular thing. The word adoni (אדני my lord), used twice in this narrative to refer to Moshe, allegorically means “my deliberation (about experience).” Allegorically the text says: “Aligned with my deliberation (אדני), God’s bringing forth of existence (haShem) commands to give the act of disposing of oneself to experience (land) through an act of inheriting from experience, through an act of drawing into experience (גורל lot), with respect to the behaviors of making a sustained survey of the many things advancing forward in experience (Israel).” In other words, a person’s taking action depends on their deliberation, what they inherit from experience, and what they draw into of experience as a result of what they survey of experience. Allegorically, once again the expressed concern is that the person will remain mired in wandering about experience in contemplation, rather than engaging with what is inherited from experience.

Another way this concern is expressed is by saying that the inheriting from experience should not move around from tribe to tribe. The word used here for tribe (מטה MaTeH) comes from the verb NaTaH (נטה) meaning to stretch, extend and incline. With regard to tribe it probably means “extended family.” However, allegorically it means how a person inclines into experience. In other words, a person’s inheriting an activity from experience should move from one inclination to another, never actually settling in upon something to engage in experience. Instead, the acts of spreading about a scene (מחלה), feeling disposed to things (תרצה); and gamboling around (חגלה), and deliberating about things (מלכה), and sifting through things (נעה) – acts of endeavoring of one’s agitatedly looking about in many directions (Tsalaphachad) – shall be for the behaviors of their being favorably disposed (uncles) for the sake of acts of conducting oneself through experience (wives).

When each book of Torah is concluded our rabbis have instructed us to say:
חזק חזק ונתחזק Be strong, be strong and let us strengthen one another!
Since the allegorically translation of the Torah reveals to us how we go about experience in fits and starts, this refrain now has a much more profound significance.

Notes:

My apologies. Usually, I have about 100 footnotes explaining each translation. But this week for a variety of reasons, I was unable to. If you have any questions about specific words, please IM me.

About the Author
David Kolinsky is a retired physician born and raised in Monsey, New York. While living in Monterey California, David initially lived as a secular, agnostic Jew. However, in his spare time, he delved into twenty years of daily study of Hebrew etymology and Torah study culminating in the writing of an etymological dictionary of Biblical Hebrew and a metaphorical translation of Torah. Abandoning his agnostic views, David was simultaneously a spiritual leader of the world's smallest conservative synagogue, a teacher in his local reform synagogue, and a gabbai at Chabad. He is currently sheltering in place with his family in his new home in Plano, Texas.
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