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“And they came to Ailam, and there were twelve springs of water and seventy date palms and they camped there on the water.” (15:27)

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In Parashas Masei, as the Torah recounts Bnei Yisrael’s travels and enumerates the places in which they camped, the Torah does not deem it appropriate to mention any of the great miracles that transpired for their benefit. The Torah does, however, mention their encampment in Ailim, a place where they found such material benefits as twelve springs and seventy date palms. Ramban notes this, citing a Mechilta that states that these twelve springs were created specifically for the benefit of the twelve tribes. He goes on to assert that the seventy date palms were exclusively set aside in order that the seventy elders sit in their shade to contemplate and give praise to Hashem.


We may suggest that the Ramban is alluding to a profound concept. As Hashem prepared Bnei Yisrael for the receiving of the Torah, He sought to imbue them with respect for the Torah and its scholars. Indeed, during the early moments of Creation, Hashem was already preparing for the venerable seventy elders who were the paradigm of Torah scholarship by designating a place for them for each according to his due reverence. Bnei Yisrael had to appreciate the importance of the Torah and its disseminators before that could be deemed ready to receive the Torah. In order to inculcate in us the proper regard for Torah scholars, the Torah reports the seemingly innocuous encampment in Ailim, and the miracles which transpired there a second time.

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