Chamishoh Mi Yo'dei'a

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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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1) Ch. 1, v. 2: "B'mispar sheimos" - With a count of names - We are pursuing a census, a population count. Numerous explanations abound for the addition of the word "sheimos." What insight do you have into "sheimos" which makes it an integral part of the actual population count?

2) Ch. 1, v. 4: "Ish rosh l'veis avosov" - A man who is head to the household of his ancestors - What information does this add to the previous words "ish ish lama'teh?"

3) Ch. 1, v. 37: "L'ma'tei Vinyomin chamishoh ushloshim elef v'arba mei'os" - To the tribe of Binyomin thirty-five-thousand and four-hundred - Compare this with the census of the tribe of Don in verse 39, 62,700. This is most unusual, as Binyomin had ten sons, while Don had but one.

4) Ch. 1, v. 45,46: "Va'yi'h'yu kol p'kudei vnei Yisroel, Va'yi'h'yu kol hapkudim" - And the total of the count of the bnei Yisroel was, And the total of the count was - These words seem repetitive, as the verse could have combined this and simply said that the total count of the bnei Yisroel to their families from the age of 20 years and above was 603,550.

5) Ch. 3, v. 39: "Shna'yim v'esrim o'lef" - Twenty-two thousand - Rashi (gemara B'choros 5a) asks that when we add the totals of the Levite families we have 22,300, not 22,000. He answers that since the Torah discusses the Levites being a redemption for the first-born, we must say that there were 300 Levite first-born as well, and their ability to redeem a first-born is used up by redeeming themselves.

This seems to not be very conclusive. Why not say that they cannot self-redeem, and that there were only 150 Levite first-born who were redeemed by another 150 regular Levites, and this is how we account for the missing 300 Levites?



Medrash Hagodol says that no two people had the same name. The total number of different names was equal to the total population.


Kli Yokor answers that Moshe was told to choose only tribal heads who are proper leaders. Sometimes one can show mastery over a simple person, but does not have the resolve to stand up to a prestigious member of his tribe. Such a person shall not be chosen. Only appoint someone who is a head even to a "beis avosov."


There is no guarantee that if one is blessed with an abundance of anything, i.e. children, money, wisdom, strength, that later generations will enjoy the same abundance, and vice versa as well. (MVRHRH"G R' Yaakov Kamenecki zt"l)


This was done intentionally, as the Torah did not want to overtly state the number of the bnei Yisroel, as in a certain aspect they are beyond numbers. Thus verse 45 tells us that there was a count of the bnei Yisroel, but does not tell us their total, and verse 46 tells us their total without mentioning that it is the count of the bnei Yisroel. (Sifsei Kohein)


The Livyas Chein answers that according to the Ramban the 250 men who joined forces with Korach were all first-born and therefore felt they had a claim to the K'hunoh, and added to this Rabbeinu Chanan'eil's understanding (mentioned by the Ramban and not mutually exclusive of his own interpretation) that the 250 men were all Levites, as indicated by Moshe's response, "Shimu noh bnei Levi" (B'midbar 16:8), we must say that there were at least 250 Levite first-born. If so, this negates the possibility of 150 regular Levites redeeming ALL 150 Levite first-born.

Perhaps a simple answer might be that a first-born Levite surely can be self-redeeming, but once you posit that he cannot be, and he needs another Levite to do this, there is no reason for him to have priority over a non-Levite to be redeemed by another Levite, and the 150 Levites should also have to enter into the redemption lottery. (Nirreh li)



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

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