This week we begin reading the fourth book of the Torah. It is called Bamidbar, meaning “In the Wilderness.” Our Sages refer to it as Chumash Hapekudim, meaning the “Book of Counting.” We indeed find that this book begins with counting the Jewish people, and this would seem to be the reason for the English name of this book, Numbers.
This book begins, “Hashem spoke to Moshe in the Sinai Desert in the Tent of Meeting on the first day of the second month. This was in the second year after the Exodus from the land of Egypt. He said, ‘Take the sum of all the Jewish people by families following their fathers’ houses. You shall take a head count of every male according to the number of their names.’” In the first verse, Rashi cites the words, “The Lord spoke… in the Sinai Desert… on the first of the month.” He explains that “Because they (the Jews) were precious to Him, He counted them often. When they left Egypt, He counted them. When many fell because of the golden calf, He counted them to know the number of the survivors. He counted them when He came to cause His Presence to rest upon them (by erecting the Mishkan). On the first of Nissan, the Mishkan was erected. On the first of Iyar, He counted them.”
This appears to be quite baffling. The reason for counting what is precious is to know how much of it one has. People count their money because the amount of money they have fluctuates. However, this does not apply to the omniscient G-d! Hashem always knows how many Jews there are!
The explanation is that counting expresses a unique characteristic of the counted item. Each “object” is counted as one, no more and no less. This tells the greatness of each Jew. Whether one is intelligent, refined, or unrefined, we each have a common denominator: the soul clothed within us. The soul is a veritable part of G-d, and its essence is the “great equalizer.” From that perspective, each of us is equal. That is the reason that G-d took a census. G-d expressed, i.e., revealed the greatness of every one of us.
This Parshah is always read before the festival of Shavuos, the time we received the Torah. Why did each one of us merit to receive Hashem’s law? Because just the Torah is a part of Hashem, so too is each of us.
I wish one and all a good Shabbos! May we all merit receiving the Torah in joy and internalizing all of its holy teachings!
Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn
Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 8
DEDICATED IN HONOR OF THE LUBAVITCHER REBBE
IN LOVING MEMORY OF
DR. MINDEL RIVKA (MURIEL) BAS REB MENACHEM MENDEL SHLOMO ע”ה STITT
PASSED AWAY ON SHABBAT PARSHAS LECH LECHA, 10 MAR-CHESHVAN, 5782
MAY HER SOUL BE BOUND IN THE ETERNAL BOND OF LIFE
IN HONOR OF
The Soldiers of Tzivos Hashem Chaim and Aiden Oded שיחיו Morris
DEDICATED BY THEIR PARENTS
Rabbi & Mrs. Menachem M. and Chaya Mushka שיחיו Morris
. Our Parshah, Bamidbar 1:1-2.
. Parshas Bo, Shemos 12:37.
. Parshas Ki Siso, Shemos 32:28.