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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 1, v. 3: "Mi'ben esrim shonoh vomaloh" - The Rokei'ach says that the census only included men above the age of twenty because it is only from that age and onwards that Heavenly punishment is administered (as per the gemara Shabbos 89b and Yerushalmi Bikurim 2:1).

Ch. 1, v. 3: "B'MISPAR sheimos" - Targums Onkelos and Yonoson ben Uziel translate "b'mispar sheimos" as "b'minyan - the number of names." However, the Haksav V'hakaboloh says in the name of the GR"A that "b'mispar sheimos" means with the "telling" of names, similar to the word "sipur." This verse tells us that Moshe and Aharon received a list of the names of the bnei Yisroel and the next verse tells us that they counted the number of people, "tif'k'du osom."

Ch. 1, v. 5: "Li'Reuvane" - When the verse mentions each tribal head, the Targum Yonoson ben Uziel always says "amarkal," meaning the administrator, "omar kol" - he states all things that should be done (gemara Horios 13a). However, by the head of Reuvane he leaves out the word "amarkal." Why?

Ch. 1, v. 20,22: "Kol zochor, kol zochor" - These words are only found by the tribes of Reuvane and Shimon. Why? Possibly it has something to do with the word "l'gul'g'losom," which also only appears by the tribes of Reuvane and Shimon.

Ch. 1, v. 20,22: "L'gul'g'losom, l'gul'g'losom" - This word is only found by the tribes of Reuvane and Shimon. The Chasam Sofer in his responsa Y.D. #294 says in the name of Rabbi Shmuel Krakover from Prague that the term "per head" is used here since the count only included those above the age of twenty years. It is therefore impossible to have a live person with two heads above the age of twenty years, as one cannot live more than a year with this condition as per the gemara M'nochos 37a. However, the tribe of Levi's census included any male above the age of a month and could conceivably include a live two-headed person. Therefore the word "l'gul'g'losom" is not mentioned there since Hashem did not want such a person counted as two. This same answer is also offered by Rabbi Yonoson Eibeschitz and Rabbi Leib Rosh Yeshivoh in the "Torah miTzion" journal year 5 issue 1, on page 16. Also see Haksav V'hakaboloh. It still remains to be explained why the word "l'gul'g'losom" appears a second time by the tribe of Shimon.

Ch. 1, v. 20: "KOL yotzei tzovo" - These words are repeated by each tribe save Levi, whose men were not "yotzei tzovo." The Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh says that KOL does not mean EACH man who was capable of going out to war, but rather, ALL members of the tribe were capable of going out to war. This teaches us that there was not even one handicapped person among them. This would seem to answer the question raised by Rabbi Chaim Kanievski shlit"a in Taamo Dikro. He asks that just as those below twenty years of age were exempt from army duty and from giving a half shekel (see Shmos 30:14 and Rashi ad loc), so also a handicapped person who may not be "yotzei tzovo" should also be exempt from giving a half shekel. According to the Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh this is all relegated to theory since in reality there were no handicapped people.

This question is however relevant in future times when there would be handicapped people.

Ch. 1, v. 22: "P'kudov" - This word appears only by the tribe of Shimon. The Asoroh Maamoros and the Lekach Tov say that it comes to allude to the future loss of 24,000 people from the tribe of Shimon, as mentioned in Rashi Bmidbar 26:13. The root form of POKOD also means LACKING, as in Shmuel 1:20:18, "v'niFKADTO ki yiPO'KEID mosho'vecho."

Ch. 1, v. 52: "V'chonu bnei Yisroel ish al macha'neihu v'ish al diglo" - These words teach us that each person of each tribe encamped in his designated location within his tribe and within his flank group. We find in 2:18 and 2:20 that Efrayim was the head of a group of three tribes while Menasheh was under Efrayim in that group, in spite of Menasheh's being older than Efrayim. The numerical value of the words "V'chonu bnei Yisroel ish al macha'neihu v'ish al diglo" is 1653, the same as "Va'yo'sem es Efrayim lifnei Menasheh" (Breishis 48:20). (Rabbi Yaakov Orbach in L'oroh shel Torah)

Ch. 2, v. 2: "Ish al diglo" - Rabbeinu Bachyei points out that each middle tribe of each group of three tribes had the name "E-IL" incorporated into the name of its leader, N'san'EIL (2:5), Shlumi'EIL (2:12), Gamli'EIL (2:20), and Pagi'EIL (2:27). He adds that the middle tribe of each group of three tribes was the 2nd, 5th, 8th, and 11th tribe of the encampment. These numbers, 2+5+8+11 = 26, the numeric value of Hashem's four letter Holy Name.

The Yerushalmi Sukoh 5:6 says that the verse "Tru'oh yis'k'u l'ma'seihem" (Bmidbar 10:6) teaches us that trumpets were blown as a signal for each tribe to prepare itself for travelling. Rabbi Yehudoh says that trumpets were blown for each flag (group of three tribes).

Rabbi Yitzchok Weiss zt"l says that these two opinions do not disagree. He brings from the Sifri 10:35 that the blowing consisted of three sounds, t'kioh, t'ru'oh, and t'kioh. Rabbi Yehudoh describes the set of three blasts signalling three tribes under one pennant to travel, while the other statement in the Yerushalmi elaborates by saying that each of the three blasts was a signal for one tribe, a T'KIOH for the first, a TRU'OH for the second and a T'KIOH for the third.

Rabbi Weiss says that each middle tribe, which had the name E-IL incorporated into its head's name and whose ordinal numbers added up to 26, the numerical value of Hashem's four letter Holy Name, travelled by the signal of a TRU'OH. This is alluded to in the verse in T'hilim 89:16, "Ashrei ho'om yo'dei SRU'OH, HASHEM, b'ore Po'necho y'ha'leichun." Fortunate is the nation (tribe) knowledgeable of the sound TRU'OH, HASHEM, the tribe that has Hashem's name incorporated in it (E-IL and the numeric value 26), in the light of Your countenance they shall travel (in the desert when they hear the TRU'OH sound).

I have a bit of difficulty with the t'kioh sound alone being a signal for one tribe to travel, whether it involves one or two trumpets. If only one trumpet is blown, this is the same signal as for the assembly of the n'siim (10:4), and if both trumpets are sounded, then it is the same as the signal for the whole congregation to assemble at the O'hel Mo'eid (10:3). Perhaps whenever a t'kioh was heard everyone waited for a tru'oh and t'kioh shortly afterwards to signal travelling, and if no other sound was forthcoming they knew that it was for assembly (a docheik).

Ch. 2, v. 2: "Ish al diglo v'osose" - The Baal Haturim says that the four heads of the tribe groups were each a tribe whom Yaakov addressed directly with the expression YOU or YOUR in his blessings in parshas Vayichi: "Yehudoh ATOH yoducho achecho" (49:8), "Reuvane b'chori ATOH (49:3), Efrayim through Yoseif "V'yaazreKO ...... vivoracheKO (49:25), Don "Lishuos'CHO kivisi Hashem." Possibly this is alluded to in the word v'OSOSE. Besides the obvious translation "with signs" there is the root form that is the same as "ATOH - you," direct address. Rabbi D.A. Mandelbaum in Pardes Yoseif Hechodosh asks that the verse for Don does not address itself to Don, as "Lishuos'CHO refers to Hashem's salvation as explained by Rashi and the Ramban. He answers that the Baal Haturim himself in his full commentary Tur Ho'oruch explains that Yaakov said to Don, "For YOUR salvation Don, I hope, and that it will come from Hashem." The Ibn Ezra and the Rashbam say the same as the Tur Ho'oruch.

Ch. 2, v. 17: "Kaa'sher yachanu kein yiso'u" - We sometimes find people who behave in a very proper manner when they are in their own community, keeping up their image and reputation within their community. However, when they travel and are away on vacation their spiritual level drops precipitously. Our verse admonishes us, "Ka'asher yachanu," just as they behave properly when at rest in their home community, "kein yiso'u," so should they also act when they travel. (Mikro M'forosh)

Ch. 2, v. 18: "Degel macha'neh Efrayim ...... ben AmihuD" - The Baal Haturim and Rabbeinu Efrayim say that this is the only verse in the Torah that begins and ends with the letter Dalet. This alludes to the fact that Efrayim is ahead of Menasheh in four matters as the numerical value of Dalet is four. They are sheivet, degel, nachaloh, and korbon. This corresponds to the four times that Efrayim was mentioned ahead of Menasheh in the chapter dealing with Yaakov's blessing these two sons of Yoseif (Breishis 48:5,14, and twice in 20). The verses for the four matters mentioned above are all in Bmidbar, 1:10 - 2:18,20 - 7:48,54, - 13:8,11.

Perhaps there is a different reason for Efrayim being mentioned before Menasheh four times. We know that Efrayim was given the primogeniture (firstborn) right over Menasheh. This entails a double portion for the firstborn (Dvorim 21:17). We find in two places that Menasheh is mentioned ahead of Efrayim. They are also in Bmidbar, 26:29,35 and 34:23,24. Thus we have Efrayim mentioned ahead of Menasheh in four out of six places, a double allotment.

Commentators explain that Menasheh is listed before Efrayim in parshios Pinchos and Massei because at that point the Torah is directing its words to the generation that will enter Eretz Yisroel. The census there shows an increase of the population of the tribe of Menasheh beyond that of Efrayim, and accordingly mentions them first.

Possibly the order of Efrayim before Menasheh the first four times and of Menashe before Efrayim the last two times is alluded to in the words of the Torah in Breishis 48:20. After Yaakov said "Y'simcho Elokim k'Efrayim v'chiMenasheh" the verse adds "va'yo'sem es Efrayim lifnei Menasheh." What point of in formation is added by these last words? The verse clearly states that Yaakov mentioned Efrayim's name first. Perhaps the first statement tells us that Yaakov conferred the firstborn right upon Efrayim, thus allotting him four placed where he appears ahead of Menasheh. The addition of the words "va'yo'sem es Efrayim lifnei Menasheh" might be telling us that besides this double portion, he placed Efrayim before Menasheh in that Efrayim's preceding Menasheh will take place in the first four places as well.

Ch. 2, v. 20: "V'olov matteh Menasheh" The R"I in the Moshav Z'keinim ask, "Why by the other tribes who were mentioned after the "degel" head does it say "v'hachonim olov," and here the word "v'hachonim" is skipped?" 1) He answers that this indicates that Menasheh and Efrayim are to be viewed as one, as they are both descendants of Yoseif. 2) Alternatively, he answers that this indicates that for all other tribes there were individual rivers flowing into their parcel of land, but Menasheh and Efrayim shared one.

3) The Rokei'ach answers that all other tribes had bodies of water separating their land portions while Efrayim and Menasheh had nothing separating theirs from each other. It seems that this is indicated by translating "v'olov" quite literally as "and UPON him" since these two tribes were physically closer to each other than any other tribes were.

4) The Meshech Chochmoh answers that the verse is indicating that eventually Menasheh will surpass Efrayim in population, hence the word "v'olov." This will take place when counting the new generation of bnei Yisroel who will enter Eretz Yisroel, a fulfillment of "v'yidgu lorov b'kerev ho'oretz" (Breishis 48:16). In our parsha Efrayim's population was 40,500 against Menasheh's 32,200, while in parshas Pinchos, Efrayim's population was 32,500 against Menasheh's 52,700.



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