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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 1, v. 2,3: "L'gul'g'losom, Mi'ben esrim shonoh" - To their head(count), >From the age of twenty years - King Dovid counted the bnei Yisroel and this brought a plague upon the Bnei Yisroel (Shmuel 2:24:1). The Ramban says that it was not caused by his doing a direct headcount because he knew their count through the annual "machatzis hashekel" collection. Rather, he says that the bnei Yisroel were always counted for a necessary purpose. However, King Dovid counted them for no special need. He only wanted to know over how many people he had mastery. This is an open M.R. 2:17.

Alternatively, he offers that the bnei Yisroel were counted from the age of 13 years by king Dovid and not from 20. Although the verse in D.H. 1:27:23 seems to indicate that Dovid did not want to count men younger than 20 years of age, nevertheless, Yoav did count all above bar-mitzvoh. Hashem does not want us to ever count ALL the adults. The Ramban ends by noting that the gemara Brochos 62b says that Dovid had an actual direct count done.

The Kli Yokor says that although the first count of the bnei Yisroel was done through sh'kolim (Shmos 30:12), this was because a headcount would bring an "ayin hora," since the bnei Yisroel were a mere 70 people just a few generations earlier. Alternatively, they were more vulnerable to an "ayin hora" just after the sin of the golden calf. Thus the count here and in the days of king Dovid need not be done through a medium, coins.

Ch. 1, v. 3: "Mi'ben esrim shonoh" - From the age of twenty years - The requirement of 20 years and older is not based upon this being the age of strength, appropriate for one going out to do war, as many young men below the age of 20 are likewise quite strong. It is because from the age of 20 and onwards a person is liable to heavenly punishment for his sins. He will quite likely behave better from this age onwards. Wars are won through merits, hence the age of 20 years. (Kli Yokor)

Ch. 1, v. 18: "Va'yisyaldu al mish'p'chosom" - And they documented their births to their families - Rashi says that the import of these words is that they brought documentation and/or witnesses to verify to which tribe they belonged. Ibn Ezra puts the stress on the word "va'yisyaldu," saying that they simply told the census takers the birth dates of their sons so that they would only count those above twenty years of age.

Ch. 1, v. 19: "Kaasher tzivoh Hashem es Moshe va'yif'k'deim" - As Hashem commanded Moshe and he counted them - This verse seems totally superfluous, as verse 17 tells us that Moshe sprang into action. All the nations make a census to know the number of people they have and in turn the number of their conscription aged men. Hashem needs none of this, as He can have a few win over the many. The verse stresses that Moshe only counted them "kaasher tzivoh Hashem," only to fulfill Hashem's command to count. (Dorash Moshe)

This seems contrary to the words of the Ramban on verse 45, where he clearly states that they were counted to know how many men would be in their army that would confront the people who were occupying Eretz Yisroel, as we do not rely on a miracle.

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. However, 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)

Ch. 1, v. 50: "Hafkeid es haLviim" - Appoint the Levites - The Baal Haturim says that the word "hafkeid" is found in only two places in Tanach, here and in the verse "hafkeid olov rosho" (T'hilim 109:6). The connection is based on the gemara Sanhedrin 103b, which states that a person is not appointed as a law enforcer below until "naasoh," he is made, a "rosho" above. This is a most enigmatic statement. A few interpretations:

1) When a person is elevated to a position of prominence there is a fear of his becoming haughty. He must behave externally as a leader, but internally he must fight this natural tendency. Thus when a person is appointed to a position of authority below, he must act with stature BELOW, i.e. in the eyes of the people, but internally, which only Hashem ABOVE knows, he must look at his faults and shortcomings so that he not become inflated. (B'eir Moshe)

2) When one person is deserving of being elevated there is a spiritual upsurge that requires a counter-balance, based on the verse "Zeh l'umas zeh ossoh hoElokim" (Koheles). When one person goes up, another who is a "rosho" is given a position of authority as well, downward, as he would pursue persecution of the bnei Yisroel. "Naasoh" does not refer to the same person. (B'eir Moshe)

3) The gemara Sukoh 52 says that whoever is greater than his friend, correspondingly has a greater evil inclination. Thus if a person is elevated, likewise, the "rosho" inclination is also elevated. The gemara Kidushin 30b says that one's evil inclination is called "rosho," based on the verse "tzo'feh rosho latzadik" (T'hilim 37). (Ksav Sofer)

4) The gemara Yerushalmi Bikurim 3:3 says that he who is elevated to a high position has all his sins forgiven. Thus his mitzvos weigh down heavily on one side of a balance scale, since there are no counter-weight sins on the other side. Thus when one is elevated, he goes "l'matoh," downward, while the "rosho," the other side of the scale, which is now empty, goes "l'maloh," upward. (Ma'yonoh Shel Torah)

Ch. 2, v. 2: "B'osose" - With insignias - The Ibn Ezra says that the signs corresponded to the heads of the four groups, for Reuvein a person, for Yehudoh lion, for Efrayim an ox, and for Dan an eagle. Perhaps this is alluded to in Yeshayohu 33:10, "Atoh eromeim atoh eno'sei." "ENoSEi" is spelled Alef-Nun-Sin-Alef, an acronym for Odom, Nesher, Shor, Aryeh. "Atoh eromeim," I will now uplift (the banner), I will do this with displaying "ENoSEi." (Nirreh li)

Ch. 3, v. 1: "V'eileh toldos Aharon u'Moshe" - These are the children of Aharon and Moshe - The Torah then only lists the children of Aharon. This teaches us that he who teaches his friend's child Torah, it is as if he had fathered him. The Holy Ari z"l in Shaar Hagilgulim Hakdomoh #10 writes that the teacher pours his spirit into his student in the same manner as a father to a son, and the connection between a teacher and student is even stronger than with a parent. Because of this input the teacher has a portion in all the mitzvos his student does.



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

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