Parshas Bamidbar 08

This weeks Parsha is Parshas Bamidbar. The Parsha begins with the counting of the Jewish people that was done as soon as the Tabernacle (Mishkan) was erected. Indeed, the Jewish people were counted a number of times in the desert. In fact, one name for this Chumash or book is – the Book of Numbers. Another name is the Book of Counting (Chomesh Hapikiudim). When the Torah recounts the instruction from Hashem to Moses to count the Jews, the words used are Seu es rosh kol adas bnai Yisroel – Count (lit. lift up) the heads of all the Jewish people”. (Numbers 1:2) The connection between seu –lift up and counting can be understood when counting certain items. After all, one easy way to count something, is to lift it up. However, here we are talking about counting people. Certainly, to count them, one would not physically “lift them up”. Even if there would be some element of “picking them up”, why is the word seu –lift up used? Wouldn’t the word Menu – count, be more correct? Why should we mix in a concept of “lifting up” to the counting of people?

The reading of the Parsha of Bamidbar always takes place before Shavuous. Why is this? Is there some connection between this Parsha and the Holiday of Shavuous?

Shavuous marks the great day when the Jewish people received the Torah. One of the greatest problems that we have in accepting the Torah, Rav Moshe Feinstien observes, in an incorrect perception of how great we really are. If we convince ourselves that we are really very small, and can accomplish very little, then we will do exactly that: accomplish very little. On the other hand, if we realize that we are very capable beings; that we have much to accomplish and to do; that what we do matters and makes a difference; then we can move mountains and change worlds.

When the Jewish people were to be counted, Hashem told them - seu –lift up the Jewish people. The fact that every person makes a difference, that counting them is incomplete without every Jew, shows the greatness of each person. If the entire Jewish people has been counted except for one, the counting is incomplete. Hopefully this will lift us up as we approach Shavuous, and make our experience of accepting the Torah a more complete one.