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Parashat Bamidbar - 5773

My friends,

This Shabbat we begin the reading of the fourth book of the Torah, the Book of Bamidbar, known as the Book of Numbers. The reason for the name is that in this Parasha, we have three separate lists of the censuses that were taken of the Israelites before entering the Promised Land.

  1. The list of the names of the heads of each tribe who will be conducing the census.
  2. The number of men 20 years and over in each tribe.
  3. The way the tribes will be arranged in camping around the Tabernacle.

In addition to these three lists, there are four more lists in the book of Bamidbar, thus giving it the name of Numbers.

I believe that the message is very clear. The purpose of the counting was not just for statistical purposes but to give each member of the tribe a sense of belonging. With that identity comes the sense of responsibility to the tribe and to the rest of the community. As members of the Jewish community - the smallest (it can't even be compared) of the three Abrahamic faiths - each one of us counts. The purpose of being counted is to show that each one of us carries weight and is counted upon.

There is a beautiful saying in the Talmud: "Kol Yisrael Arevim Zeh Lazeh" - "We are responsible for one another."

Do you feel that way? I know and I hope you do.

Shabbat Shalom,