This week’s two Torah readings share an inner connection. The central element of Parshas Matos is the war our people waged against Midian, while the central element of Parshas Masei is the recounting of the journeys of the Jewish people from the exile in Egypt until they reached the banks of the Jordan preparing to enter Eretz Yisrael.

To explain the interrelation: Midian stands for the spiritual counterpart of friction and strife, a person who is so focused on himself that he or she sees others only in terms of what they can do for him, rather then appreciating who they are and what they need. He is selfishly obsessed to the extent that he loses all proportion of the situation in which he is found. What is important to him is that he receives his attention and that people gratify his desire for appreciation. If he does not receive this, he lashes out with anger. Indeed at times even before another person has a chance to open his mouth, he will attack. For he is so insecure about his space that he will fear any and all intrusions upon it.

Before entering Eretz Yisrael, there has to be a war with Midian. Eretz Yisrael is a place where G‑d’s presence is openly revealed. And of a haughty spirited and self-centered individual, G‑d says: “He and I cannot dwell in the same place.” For when a person is focused on his own self, there is no way in which he can appreciate G‑d. He certainly cannot sense the G‑dliness which resides within other people and which exists in every element of the world around him. Before the Jews can enter Eretz Yisrael, where G‑dliness is to be the focus of their lives, they must rid themselves of this type of self-concern.

This also relates to the spiritual message of their journey from Egypt to Eretz Yisrael. Egypt, is called Mitzrayim in Hebrew, a term which relates to the meitzarim, the boundaries and limitations which enclose the G‑dly potential which we all possess. The 40 years of wandering through the desert was a period of training and practice in which the Jews learned how to get in touch with and express their inner spiritual potential and free it from all constraints so that they would be fit to enter Eretz Yisrael.

In essence, the core of this entire journey is fighting Midian, learning how to master oneself and relate openly and genuinely to others.

These Torah readings also relate to the time in which they are being read; the three weeks which focus on the mourning for the destruction of the Temple. The goal of this period of mourning is not merely to shed tears over the past, but primarily to focus on the future, to realize the spiritual faults that led to the exile, and to correct them so that the Redemption will come.

Our Sages teach that the Temple was destroyed because of unfounded hatred, the kind of bickering and strife that is associated with Midian. It follows that by ridding ourselves of this friction and conflict through self-sacrificing love, we can eradicate the cause of the exile. When the cause no longer exists, the effect will also cease.

The emphasis on love and unity during these three weeks should not focus merely on undoing the wrongs of the past. On the contrary, we should be future-oriented. The Era of the Redemption will be characterized by peace and love and by expressing these emotions at the present time, we anticipate and precipitate that future era.