Meir Tzvi Berman

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Parsha Ki Sisa


"Ki Siso Ess Rosh Bnei Yisrael L'fkudeihem"

"When you raise (count) the head of the Children of Israel for their countings"

The Torah uses the figure of speech "raise the head of" to refer to the act of counting the Jewish people. This indicates that the counting raised the status of the Jews. It symbolized that each Jew is not only an individual acting for himself, but is counted as an integral part of the whole group as well. Each person can accomplish more within the framework of a community. Being included in a group, is therefore an enhancement to a person's standing. (Avnei Azel)


"Heosher Lo Yarbeh V'Hadal Lo Yam-it .." "The rich person shall not increase(give more) and the pauper shall not lessen (give less) .."

This verse can also be interpreted in a homiletic sense. "the rich man" alludes to one who is rich in good deeds and spiritual accomplishments. Such a person should not "increase" by viewing his own righteousness in an exaggerated manner, for if he should so, he may become arrogant. It is best for such a person to keep an honest perspective of himself and realize his own shortcomings. By doing so, the person will be able to concentrate upon improving himself rather than develop an inflated ego. This is alluded to by the phrase "The rich one should not increase" This verse also contains a warning for a "pauper" one who is poor in spiritual accomplishments. Such a person should not "lessen" himself by belittling the worth of the small measure of spiritual accomplishments that he has achieved. If he were too minimize what he has actually accomplished he would create a poor self image. One who views his own spiritual status too negatively is apt to fall victim to despair. Once into the throes of despair, a person would be likely to let himself slide to greater depths because he sees his situation as hopeless, anyway. It is therefore important for a person who is in a spiritual rut not to view himself as worse than he actually is - so that he can keep up hope of eventually improving himself. This is the lesson of "The pauper should not lessen". (Noam Elimelech)

Courtesy of JewishAmerica (

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