How can Matot and Massei coexist together? Matot connotes leadership, harshness, unbendingness and “stick-like” behavior, while Massei connotes travels, boundlessness, openness and mutual togetherness.
Borrowing on an idea from my late relative Rav Avrohom Genechovsky, zt”l, previous rosh yeshiva of Tchebin, perhaps the contradiction can be solved.
He said, we should use the world as a model for our behavior. We should be flexible on the outside just like water that covers the outside of the earth. On the inside, we should be firm and unbending like the inner rock of the universe. In our center, we should be consumed by the flames of Torah just as fire is at the center of the earth.
Therefore, with others we must be open and flexible as a traveler who must enter new terrain with accommodative behavior. But on the inside, we must be firm like a stick in our belief and practice.Steven Genack