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What is the significance of the stops that the Jews made in the desert, that the Torah had to name them (Numbers 33:1–49)?

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

The Chuddushei Harim answers the significance of the encampments are that they are stops along the road of life. Sometimes we camp at Marrah(bitterness),sometimes we are in Miskah (sweetness).At times we are in Makheilos,surrounded by friends and confidants. At times we feel we are at the K'tzei Hamidbar-lonely and in isolation at the desert's edge.There are also times when we are at Har Sinai,where it is easy to grow spiritually and learn torah. But at other times we are at Kivros Hata'avah where we struggle and our base desires that bring us down. The one thing we must keep in mind is after all we will all end up in Eretz Yisroel.

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The Ramban to Bamidbar 33:1 quotes the Rambam in Moreh Nevuchim to answer your question. In a sentence, all of the locations are recorded so that the future generations know that our existence in the desert was maintained miraculously.

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I heard an answer in the name of the Divrei Shaul by Rabbi Yosef Shaul Halevi Nathansohn that the reason is because the איסור to return to מצרים is specifically to go backwards through the travels of בנ''י in the מידבר, thereby undoing יציאת מצרים.

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related judaism.stackexchange.com/a/2637/759 – Double AA Aug 6 '12 at 3:00

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