Chamishoh Mi Yo'dei'a

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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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1) Ch. 1, v. 1: “Va’y’da’beir Hashem el Moshe BMIDBAR Sinai” - This, the fourth volume of the Torah, is commonly called BMIDBAR, as is the first parsha of this volume. The gemara Sotoh 36b calls it “chumash hapkudim,” the book of census taking.

The first word of Breishis and Vayikra are the titles of their respective volumes. It is understandable why the first words of Shmos and Dvorim, “V’ei’leh” and “Ei’leh” are not the title of their respective volumes, as these words are not key words that indicate anything about their parshios. However, since Vayikra is the title used for the third volume of the Torah, why can’t “Va’y’da’beir” be the title of our volume and parsha? Is “And He spoke” any less a title than “And He called?”

2) Ch. 1, v. 3: “Tif’k’du osom” – Since the previous verse said “b’mispar” should not our verse have likewise carried through with “tis’p’ru osom”?

3) Ch. 1, v. 3: “Atoh v’Aharon” – Why in the census recorded in parshas Ki Siso (30:11) was Aharon not included in the command to count?

4) Ch. 1, v. 20: “Vnei Reuvein ……. b’mispar sheimos” – The word “sheimos” here, by the tribe of Reuvein, as well as by Shimon (1:21), Gad (1:24), and Menasheh (1:34) is spelled complete with a letter Vov, while by all the other tribes it is spelled lacking a Vov. Why the differences?

5) Ch. 1, v. 50: “Heimoh yisu es haMishkon v’es kol keilov v’heim y’shorsuhu v’soviv laMishkon yachanu” – It seems that the last piece of information in this verse, that the Levites shall reside around the Mishkon, is repeated in verse 53, “V’haLviim yachanu soviv l’Mishkan ho’eidus.”



1) Indeed, the gemara Yerushalmi Megiloh chapter #3 calls this volume “Va’y’da’beir.”

2) Perhaps “Va’y’dabeir” would be an appropriate title, but our Rabbis wanted to stress that the Torah was given and kept in a desert to indicate that the proper pursuit of the Torah requires that one not busy himself in acquiring comfortable physical accommodations, as this detracts from Torah and mitzvoh pursuits.


1) According to numerous commentators on verse 2 the bnei Yisroel were not counted directly, but rather through a medium, “tif’k’du” is used to denote that their count is to be derived through “observing” the medium and coming to a census count.

2) Alternatively, according to the Ramban on 1:45 that the bnei Yisroel appeared in front of Moshe and Aharon so that they should see the bnei Yisroel in a positive manner and pray to Hashem to have mercy upon them, and multiply them, “tif’k’du” is easily understood as remembering them, overseeing them, and caring for their welfare, as in “vaShem pokad es Soroh” (Breishis 21:1).


Aharon was not involved because the counting there was to tally those who survived the punishment for the sin of the golden calf, in whose creation Aharon was heavily involved. (Medrash Tanchuma Ki Siso #9 and Baal Haturim on our verse)


This can be explained as follows: The gemara Brochos 8a says that the blessing of long life mentioned in Dvorim 11:21, “L’maan yirbu y’meichem,” applies only in Eretz Yisroel, “al ho’adomoh.” As well, the gemara N’dorim 22a says that other blessings that the Torah offers the bnei Yisroel apply only in Eretz Yisroel. Therefore the Torah writes the word “sheimos” in full to expand their blessing capacity, in particular by the population count, to infuse a blessing of increased population. Although the tribe of Shimon had its inheritance in Eretz Yisroel, its number was greatly diminished through the retribution for the sin of p’ore. Another reason for their need of this blessing is because some of their people resided in the Trans-Jordan, as per the words “vaa’fitzeim b’Yisroel” (Breishis 49:7). They were teachers for all the tribes, necessitating some of them to be in the Trans-Jordan to teach the tribes that resided there. (Taamo Dikro)


We can answer that our verse tells us that the Levites should be located around the Mishkon to do the service of guarding it. This is indicated by the words “v’soviv laMishkon yachanu” appearing right after the mention of carrying the Mishkon building components and the vessels. Just as carrying these items is one of their services, so is the guarding of the Mishkon.

Verse 53 tells us where they should reside, just as all other tribes that had specific locations within the camp for their residence. This is indicated by the previous verse ending with “ish al macha’neihu v’ish al diglo.” (Gri”z haLevi Brisker)

Perhaps this also answers why in verse 50 we have “v’soviv laMishkon” before “yachanu,” while in verse 53 we have “yachanu” before “soviv l’Mishkan.” Since the mention of their position in verse 50 is for the purpose of guarding the Mishkon, the Mishkon is mentioned first. In verse 53, where the topic is where they should reside, the word “yachanu” is mentioned first.

I have some difficulty in understanding the words of the Gri”z. Verse 53 clearly states that the Levites should reside around the Mishkon so that they should guard it (against entry by inappropriate people – Rashi). The Gri”z says that this is the point of verse 50, so why is it mentioned here where the thrust of the verse is the location of their residence? It should have been mentioned in verse 50 instead.



See also Sedrah Selections, Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha and Chasidic Insights

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