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This question reminded me to ask what is the origin of the special trop for the masa'ot - the section enumerating the places Bnai Yisroel travelled, as described in B'midbar 33:10-49. A recording of the leining can be heard here starting at 5:53.

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This question has also bothered me for a while. A search of Otzar HaHochma led me to the Nitei Gavriel Hilchos Bein Hametzarim, Vol. 1 page 154 who brings differing customs and cites the source "this is what people do (kein ama dabar)." He then quotes the sefer Shaul Bachir quoting from the Maharam Shick that the different customs depend upon whether the travels were a source of pride (Ramban) or shame (Rashi). A thought of my own: There is also a custom not to stop in the middle of these pesukim. I wonder whether the custom may have developed to remind the baal korei to keep going.

  • Welcome to Mi Yodeya Abraham! Thank you for the answer. – mevaqesh Jul 20 '17 at 16:23
  • Weclome from me, also. It's nice to start, here with a good answer. If you can link any of your sources, that would be a huge help. Incidentally, in most Chumashim, you will find a Sheni in the middle of the travel list. Because it rare to find Matot & Mas'ei separate, esp. outside Israel, this break is rarely used. However, when just Masei is read, I know that most shuls I have gone to don't use that Sheni because of what you mentioned about not breaking up the tarvels. They end where Shlishi is marked, & move Shlishi before what's marked as Revi'i. – DanF Jul 20 '17 at 17:55
  • Thanks for the welcome. I added a link to the first source, but could not find a public URL for the second. – Abraham Rosenbaum Jul 20 '17 at 22:24
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R. Tzvi hirsch Weinreb writes in The Person in the Parsha pp497-498(I have excerpted):

Immediately after the long list of brief stops on the painful journey, at the conclusion of all that travail, God says to Moses...when you pass over the Jordan...you shall drive out the inhabitants...you shall inherit the land by lots..."

Aimless wandering with no end in sight is torture; a journey with a clear destination, on the other hand, is a wondrous experience, despite its many obstacles. Without the promise of the inheritance, ...the many way stations would be chanted to a very solemn melody, perhaps even to the melody of Lamentations...But with the vision promised to us...all of the sufferring along the way becomes worthwhile.

The lengthy list of way stations becomes transformed into the lyrics of a triumphant marching song

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    Welcome to Mi Yodeya Etan! Thanks for the answer. Although the question could've been clearer, it appears to be asking for the source for the practice; not the reason for it. – mevaqesh Jul 21 '17 at 19:14
  • It's a very nice explanation. But, I agree with @mevaqesh in that it doesn't explain the origin. – DanF Jul 25 '17 at 18:52

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