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Thursday, Tammuz 22, 5782 / July 21, 2022


We find in the Torah we find that the Jewish people were counted a few times. In this week’s Parsha, Pinchas, we read that G-d commanded Moshe and Elazar the High Priest (Aaron, the Hight Priest, had already passed away), to count the Jewish people. Every man between the age of 20 to 60 was to be counted.


The first counting was when Jacob and his children moved to Egypt. Their total was seventy souls. All of Yaakov’s descendants were counted. Also Yocheved, who would later become Moshe’s mother, who was just born, was part of the count. She was the one who completed the number seventy.


The next counting was when they left Egypt, 210 years after Yaakov and his family moved to Egypt. At this point the count was for men between the ages of 20 to 60. The total was about 600,000.


The next count was after the sin of the Golden Calf when many Jews died in a plague. Here again, men over the age of twenty to sixty, were counted. They totaled just over 600,000.


The next counting was less than a year later, in which the men between the ages of 20 to 60 were counted. This counting took place one month after they erected the Mishkan (Tabernacle). Again, they were just over 600,000.


The next counting is in our Parsha, Pinchas. It took place 48 years later. They totaled just over 600,000.


The reason G-d wanted Moshe to count the Jewish people time and again was to show His love for the Jewish people. Our sages compare this to a shepherd who lost many of his flock to wild beasts. Because of his great love for his herd, he counts them again and again, after every disaster which befalls them.


The same with the Jewish people. After every plague and disaster which took a toll on them, G-d wanted them to be counted to show His love for them even when they sinned.


Q.  What happened now that G-d wanted Moshe to count the people?


A.  We read at the end of last week’s Parsha, that the Jewish people sinned with the women of Moab and Midyan. Their immoral behavior brought on them a plague in which 24,000 people died. Thus, G-d wanted a detailed counting of how many were left in each tribe to show His caring for them.


Another reason:  In this Parsha we read that G-d tells Moshe that he will not lead the people into The Promised Land and the leadership would be transferred to Joshua. Before giving over the mantle of leadership to Joshua, who would be leading them into the Promised Land, G-d wanted Joshua to know the exact number of men, between the ages of 20 to 60, as they would be participating with him in battle to conquer the land.