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Daily Aliya for Matot-Massei, Chamishi (5th Aliya)

Aliya Summary: G‑d instructs the Jewish people to eradicate all Canaan’s inhabitants and destroy their idols after crossing the Jordan River. The borders of the land of Israel are delineated. The land was to be divided by lottery amongst the nine and a half tribes (Reuven, Gad and half of the tribe of Menashe were going to settle on the eastern bank of the Jordan).

The Jews were warned that they must clear out the existing inhabitants of their new land before settling in it, and then were warned again that if they didn’t clear out all the existing inhabitants, the existing tenants would end up being “spikes in their eyes and thorns in their sides”, an interesting depiction of their pending troubles. Spikes in their eyes represent obstacles visible to the naked eye (improper behavior, appearance, etc), and thorns in their sides represent obstacles less obvious (societal influence, peer pressures, etc). Both are equally painful spikes, although we may not see the thorns coming. The Passuk is equating the obstacles visible to us with those not visible to us, warning us of the perils of exposure to each.