Pearls of Rashi: Parshas Bamidbar II

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This week’s Torah portion is Bamidbar. It begins with a census of the Jewish Nation[1]. “Hashem spoke to Moshe in the Sinai Desert, in the Tent of Meeting on the first day of the second month, in the second year after the exodus from the land of Egypt, saying, ‘Take the sum of all the congregation of the children of Israel, by families following their fathers’ houses; a headcount of every male according to the number of their names.'”

What was the reason for counting the Jews? Rashi cites the words “Hashem spoke… in the Sinai Desert… on the first of the month” and explains that “because they were dear to Him, He counted them often.” In other words, Rashi is saying that it is common for people to count that which is precious to them. That is why G-d counted the Jews.

At first glance, this doesn’t seem easy to understand. If something is important to me, I will count it, again and again, to know how many I have. Hashem knows everything! At any point in time, He knows exactly how many Jews there are. What reason could there be for counting us?

The explanation is that the Jews are not precious to Hashem because we excel in the Torah or Mitzvos. In that respect, there are many different levels; each Jew is different than any other. There is no point in counting things that are all different than each other.

Our nation is precious because of that which we all have in common. Each of us has a Divine soul, which is[2] “an actual part of Hashem.” The “spark of Jewishness” within each soul is equal. There is no difference between the “greatest” and the “simplest” Jew.

Hashem counts the Jewish people “because we are dear to Him.” That part of us which is the same is dear to Him. Taking a census expresses this aspect.

In a few days, we will celebrate the holiday of Shavuos, the time that we received the Torah. Before receiving the Torah, the Sages describe the Jews as[3] “as one man with one heart.” We must learn from this to look at what we all have in common and to love each other.

I wish one and all a Good Shabbos! May we all receive the Torah with joy and internalize it within ourselves!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 8, Page 1 ff.

מוקדש לזכות כ”ק אדמו”ר נשיא דורנו מליובאוויטש

The Soldiers of Tzivos Hashem Chaim and Aiden Oded שיחיו Morris
Rabbi & Mrs. Menachem M. and Chaya Mushka שיחיו Morris

חיילי “צבאות השם” חיים ועדן עודד שיחיו מאריס
נדפס ע”י הוריהם
הרה”ת ר’ מנחם מענדל וזוגתו מרת חי’ מושקא שיחיו מאריס


[1]. Our Parshah, Bamidbar 1:1-2.

[2]. See Tanya Chapter 2.

[3]. See the Mechilta.

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