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Monday, Iyar 24, 5780 / May 18, 2020 (39th day of the Omer)


This Shabbat we read Parshat Bamidbar.  With this Parsha we begin the fourth Book of the Torah, the Book of Numbers.


Parshat Bamidbar is read, in most years, on the Shabbat before the holiday of Shavuot, the holiday when we celebrate receiving the Torah on Mount Sinai. Shavuot will be celebrated this year Thursday night, May 28, thru Shabbat, May 30. In Isreal where only one day is celebrated, it will end Friday night, May 29.


The Parsha begins with G-d commanding Moshe to count the Jewish people; “And G-d spoke to Moshe in the wilderness of Sinai (“Bamidbar Sinai”)... Count the sum of all the congregation of the children of Israel, according to their families... every male... from twenty years old and up, all those who are able to go forth in war..." 


In the Parsha we find a detailed counting for each tribe, plus the total sum of everyone together. The total amount of men between the ages of 20 to 60, excluding the tribe of Levi totaled: 603,550.


The tribe of Levi was counted separately.  They were counted from a month young and up.  The sum total of the tribe of Levi was 22,000.


This census of the Jewish people is the fourth in the Torah.  The first count was when Yaakov (Jacob) and his family came to Egypt.  They totaled seventy people. 


Two hundred and ten years later, at the time of the Exodus, the Torah tells us that the number of people that left Egypt were, "about six hundred thousand men, besides children." 


After the sin of the Golden Calf, the Jewish people were counted again; for a total of 603, 550 (Num. 38:26). 


Now in this week’s Parsha, Bamidbar, they were counted according to each tribe.  This counting took place about seven months after the last census, yet it was 603,550, the exact number as before.


Q.  Why did G-d command Moshe to count the people again only seven months after the previous count?


A.  Our sages explain that counting the people was an expression of G-d’s love for the Jewish people.  Just as a person continuously counts something which is very precious and valuable, so too, counting the people is an expression of G-d’s love for them.  Between the previous counting and the counting in this Parsha, the Jewish people constructed the Mishkan and G-d’s Holy glory rested amongst them.  Thus, G-d told Moshe to count them in order to show His love for the people.