Moshe’s Second Song

Rabbi Aviva Richman

Parashat Mattot-Masei

In Parashat Mas'ei, Moshe receives detailed instructions about setting up cities of refuge. Unlike other mitzvot introduced as being relevant to when the people enter the land, Moshe can actually fulfill this mitzvah, at least in part. He makes sure to set aside three cities on the east side of the Jordan river before he dies. This may seem tragic, a desperate grasp for a taste of entering the land when the full experience is entirely shut off. Instead, we can see his efforts as a climax of his life’s work, a moment when his heart sang because he so deeply appreciated the meaning and importance of refuge. (5782)