פ’ במדבר תשע”ז
Volume 19, Issue 1
INSIGHTS from the SEDRA
Insights from the Sedra is a project of the Scholar’s Kollel of Great Neck. It aims to provide several questions and answers about the Sedra, culled from various commentaries, including the following: Baal Haturim, Darash Moshe, Vedebarta Bam by Rabbi Moshe Bogomilsky, Torah Treasures by Dov Furer, Wellsprings of Torah by Alexander Friedman, and Kol Dodi by Rabbi Dovid Feinstein, Great Torah Lights by Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Goodman, Something To Say by Dov Wasserman, The Vilna Gaon, and Growth Through Torah by Zelig Pliskin.
שאו את ראש כל עדת בני ישראל למשפחתם לבית אבתם במספר שמות
“Take a census of the entire assembly of the Children of Israel, according to their families, according to their fathers’ households, by number of the names.” (1:2)
While the Jews were traveling in the desert on the way to Eretz Yisrael, G-d commanded Moshe and Aharon to take a census. The commentaries ask why the Torah adds the phrase “the number of their names.” In taking a census, is it not sufficient to say that the number of people must be counted – what is the significance of the names?
The answer is that when we count members of the Jewish nation, we don’t merely ascribe to them a computer number. Each one is a vital being with an individual name, a very precious and holy soul in the community. (Vedebarta Bam)
ואת כל העדה הקהילו באחד לחדש השני ויתילדו על משפחתם לבית אבתם
“They gathered together the entire assembly on the first day of the second month, and they established their genealogy according to their families, according to their fathers’ household.” (1:18)
The verse is letting us know the secret to the continuity of Klal Yisrael. Although Bnei Yisrael had become a great nation, they kept strong family ties to the generation before them. They saw themselves as links in an illustrious chain. They tried, on their own level, to emulate the deeds of their forefathers. ויתילדו על משפחתם לבית אבתם – “They established their genealogy according to their families”. By following in the footsteps of the previous generation, they perpetuate their legacy of greatness until the ultimate geulah. (Sfas Emes)
איש על דגלו באתת לבית אבתם יחנו בני ישראל
“Each man at his banner according to the insignias of their father’s household shall the Children of Israel encamp.” (2:2)
QUESTION: How did the formations of the Jewish people originate?
ANSWER: The Jews traveled in the wilderness in four groups, each group consisting of three tribes, and each with its own banner. The entire system of banners was set up through Yaakov Avinu. When Yaakov asked to be buried in Eretz Yisrael, he taught his children the marching formation for carrying his coffin. (Midrash Tanchuma)
According to the Torah, when Yaakov gave his brachot to Menashe and Ephraim, he did so in specific order: “Vayasem et Ephraim lifnei Menashe” – “He placed Ephraim before Menashe” (Breishit 48:20). Rashi comments: “lehakdimo bedegalim” – “to place Ephraim before Menashe in the formation of the banners. Therefore, in the formation to the west, Ephraim was the leader and Menashe followed behind him (2:18, 20). (Vedebarta Bam)
Chazal tell us that on the flags of the degalim were the letters of the names of the Avot. On Yehudah’s flag there was א’,י’,י’; aleph is the first letter of Avraham and the yuds are the first letters of Yitzchak’s and Yaakov’s names. Reuven’s flag had ב’,צ’,ע’, which are the second letters of the names of the Avot. What did this signify? There is a total of thirteen letters in the names of the Avot, which is the gematria of the word אחד. The Avot represent achdus – unity. While each shevet had its own flag, it was imperative for everyone in Klal Yisrael to remember that they are each a part of one whole. (Aderet Eliyahu)
מנגד סביב לאהל מועד יחנו
“The [Israelites] must encamp around the Tent of the Meeting.” (2:2)
The people’s encampment on all four sides of the Tabernacle symbolized how they protected the holy edifice and the Torah that resided in its innermost sanctum. Certainly, the Torah does not need our protection – on the contrary, the Torah and its commandments protect us. However, G-d chose to entrust us with the noble mission of protecting the Torah.
Similarly, we must guard our personal, inner sanctuary – within our hearts and within our homes – from all four sides: from cool spiritual indifference on the cold north; from hot, lustful passions on the warm south; from self-gratification over brilliant accomplishments on the morning east; and from dark despair on the evening west. (Likutei Sichot)
For future sponsorship opportunities please call Steve Zuckerman at 516 652 5266 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or Rabbi Lichter at email@example.com. Sponsorships in memory of or in honor of someone are $50.00 per issue.