"This is what the Eternal has commanded concerning the daughters of Zelophehad: They may marry anyone they wish, provided they marry into a clan of their father's tribe. No inheritance of the Israelites may pass over from one tribe to another" (Numbers 36:6–7).
In Numbers 35:9-15, God commands the people to create cities of refuge in the Promised Land. The notion behind the cities of refuge-where one could claim asylum or sanctuary-is a construct that has found itself reinterpreted throughout the ages.
The end of the wilderness sojourn of the wandering Israelites approaches as the Book of Numbers reaches its conclusion. In Parashat Mas-ei, the Torah looks backward and ahead. Summarizing forty years of marches and encampments since the Exodus from Egypt requires almost a full chapter.
Parashat Mas’ei is the concluding reading from the biblical Book of Numbers and is filled with a wealth of historical detail. This year, the Shabbat on which we read Mas’ei comes at the beginning of month of Av.