by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS B'MIDBAR 5771 BS"D
Ch. 1, v. 2: "S'u es rosh kol adas bnei Yisroel" - Elevate the heads of all the congregation of bnei Yisroel - By the counting of the L'viim the verse expresses it differently, "P'kode es bnei Levi" (3:15). The expression "s'u" indicates a lifting/elevating through counting. The rank and file bnei Yisroel sinned with the golden calf and when Hashem forgave them their iniquity He had them counted, and as Rashi right at the beginning of our parsha writes, "Shemitoch chiboson moneh osom kol sho'oh." The bnei Levi did not sin with the golden calf and when there was a need to count them there is no need to express it as a counting that created and uplifting. (Rabbi Y.Z. Pollack)
Ch. 1, v. 17: "Va'yikach Moshe v'Aharon es ho'anoshim asher nikvu b'sheimos" - And Moshe and Aharon took the people who were specified by name - Rashi comments, "Asher nikvu LO KAN b'sheimos." What is Rashi clarifying by adding these two words to the verse? The gemara Sanhedrin 82b says that Shlumiel ben Tzurishadai had five names. Shlumiel was his actual name and he had four other names that reflected his improper behaviour with Kozbi the daughter of Tzur.
This gemara raises a difficulty in our verse. How do we call all these tribal leaders "anoshim," men held in high esteem, if Shlumiel was included among them (verse 6)? Rashi therefore forewarns this by adding "lo kan." It is only here, KAN, that he is called by his original name, LO, which was before he sinned, and this name has no negative connotation. (Gan Ro'veh)
Ch. 1, v. 18: "V'es kol ho'eidoh hikhilu b'echod lachodesh hasheini" - And all the congregation they assembled on the first day of the second month - The Torah already told us that Hashem commanded Moshe on the first day of the second month to take a census (1:1). We see from this Moshe's extreme alacrity. Hashem told him on the first day of the second month to count the bnei Yisroel and he wasted no time. On that same day he assembled the hundreds of thousands of people. (Rabbi Y.Z. Pollack)
Ch. 1, v. 20,22: "Vnei Reuvein …… l'gul'g'losom, Livnei Shimon …… l'gul'g'losom" - The sons of Reuvein …… to their skulls, To the sons of Shimon …… to their skulls - These two tribes have the word "l'gul'g'losom" used by their census taking because numerous members of their tribes required reincarnation, "gilgul," to purify those who sinned by Korach's rebellion and by Shlumiel/Zimri's sin. (Sifsei Kohein)
Ch. 1, v. 44: "Va'yi'h'yu kol p'kudei bnei Yisroel l'veis avosom …… kol yotzei tzovo" - And they were all those who were counted of the bnei Yisroel to the household of their fathers …… all who go to the army - The Ramban explains that the requirement for all those in this census to appear in front of Moshe and Aharon was so that these two great tzadikim actually see the faces of those who were counted and understand their situations and bless them face to face. Our verse says that ALL who were counted were conscripted into the army. No doubt that with such a large number of people there were some who were sick or had physical handicaps that made them quite unfit to serve in the army. We must assume that upon receiving a blessing form Moshe and Aharon those who were not fit were miraculously healed of their illnesses and handicaps. Such is the power of the blessing of tzadikim! (Luach Erez)
Ch. 1, v. 44-46: "Eileh hapkudim asher pokad Moshe v'Aharon …… va'yi'h'yu kol p'kudei vnei Yisroel l'veis avosom …… kol yotzei tzovo, Va'yi'h'yu kol hapkudim sheish mei'os elef" - These are the counts that Moshe and Aharon counted …… and they were all those who were counted of the bnei Yisroel to the household of their fathers …… all who go to the army, And all those who were counted were six-hundred-thousand - Why do these verses mention the counting of the people three times? The Ramban offers three reasons for the census taking place at this time:
1) So that their remembrance should come to the attention of Moshe and Aharon so that they bless them
2) To see who is fit to be drafted into the army
3) To make public the knowledge that although a mere seventy people descended to Egypt they were now a quite populace nation
This is why these verses mention the counting three times. The first verse mentions that Moshe and Aharon counted them. This is so that Moshe and Aharon would bless them. The second verse tells us that they were fit to go to the army, which is the second reason offered by the Ramban. The third verse tells us that the males between the ages of twenty and sixty years totaled 603,550. This is the third point made by the Ramban, their great population. (Ksav Sofer)
Ch. 2, v. 3: "Mi'neged soviv l'ohel mo'eid yachanu" - Across around the tent of convocation shall they reside - M.R. 2;8 says that the distance from the "ohel mo'eid" should not be greater than 2,000 cubits on any side so that they would be allowed to come close to the Holy Ark for prayer on Shabbos. The Baal Haturim points out that the numerical value of "Mi'neged soviv l'ohel" equals that of "L'alpa'yim amoh."
Ch. 2, v. 14: "V'nossi livnei Gad Elyosof ben R'u'eil" - And the minister for the sons of Gad is Elyosof the son of R'u'eil - In the beginning of our parsha we find D'u'eil rather than R'u'eil, and the same in parshas Nosso and other places. Why here is his name changed to R'u'eil? Imrei Noam on parshas Va'yeitzei says that the tribe of Gad merited having Moshe buried in its land allotment in the merit of Gad's tribal leader keeping silent when Dan was placed as the head of a quadrant of tribes. Gad could have claimed that just as Dan had this position because he was Bilhah's firstborn, so too Gad was the firstborn of Zilpoh. In this merit Gad was a "ben R'u'eil," a tribe that would have in its land apportionment Hashem's closest friend - "rei-a Keil" - i.e. Moshe. Based on these words of the Imrei Noam we can say that the true name was D'u'eil, but here by the announcement of the quadrant tribal heads, where the tribe of Gad kept quiet and did not complain, it is befitting to write *R*u'eil. (Toras haChid"o)
Ch. 3, v. 16: "Va'yifkod osom Moshe al pi Hashem" - And Moshe counted them through Hashem's word - M.R. 3:9 relates that since even babies from the age of thirty days were to be counted, Moshe ran into a dilemma. He asked Hashem how to deal with entering a tent where a mother might be nursing her baby. Hashem responded that Moshe should stand outside each tent and a heavenly voice would announce the number of "L'viim from the age of thirty days and older resided there. This being the case, why was it necessary for Moshe to bother going from home to home? The heavenly revelation could let him know the total without his going to their homes. We see from this that even where a person has heavenly intervention and help he should still do all that he can.
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