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Throughout the 40 year trek through the desert, Bnei Yisroel set up camp in many places. Why does the Torah go out of its way to remind us of all of these camping grounds?

It is to teach us a great lesson about hospitality.

The wilderness is a dangerous place, filled with poisonous scorpions, snakes and wild animals. It is barren and devoid of water or road signs, hot and dry, with sand and more sand, where travelers have only the stars and the constellations to guide them. Yet, wherever the Bnei Yisroel pitched their Sukkot (tents), the well of Miriam provided water, they were protected from wild animals and bugs, and the weather. As a reward, the Rabbis tell us that in the future, the day will come when the Midbar (desert), will be transformed into a place abundant with many waterways and trees, in accordance with the words of the Navi Yeshayahu (Prophet Isaiah): "I will make a wilderness a pool of water ... I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the acacia-tree, and the myrtle, and the oil-tree" (Yeshayahu 41:18,19).

At the same time Edom is also mentioned in the list of stop-offs, but for a very different reason. The inhabitants of Edom refused to provide the Bnei Yisroel with food, water and safe passage. Therefore, the day will come when these cities will be destroyed and reduced to a wilderness. As the prophet wrote: "But Esav (Edom) I hated, and made his mountains desolation, and gave his heritage to the jackals of the wilderness." (Malachi 1:3).

And here's the lesson: If a desert, which has no understanding will be so greatly rewarded by Hashem for playing host to the Bnei Yisroel, then you can be sure that a person who opens his home to a person in need - especially if the person is a Talmid Chacham (Torah scholar) - will reap even greater rewards for his efforts.

It is a great mitzvah to open your home to such a visitor and thank Hashem for the opportunity to play host. The merit of this mitzvah serves as protection against harm. (Talmud, Tractate Brachot, 63b). As we see when Hashem was about to bring destruction upon Sodom, He sent Avrohom (Abraham) three Malachim (angels) disguised as weary travelers, so that by hosting them he would have the merit to save Lot and his household from the upheaval. The Torah hints at this in the verse, "Hashem had remembered Avrohom . . He allowed Lot to escape" (Bereishit 19:29). In other words, it was in the merit of Avrohom that his nephew Lot was spared.

The sages of the Talmud declare: "When one hosts a Talmid Chacham in his home and sustains him from his possessions, it is as if he had brought an offering in the Bait Hamikdash (Holy Temple). (Talmud, Tractate Brachot, 10b).



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