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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 1, v. 2: "S'u es rosh kol adas bnei Yisroel" - Count the head of all the congregation of bnei Yisroel - This is to the exclusion of the "erev rav." They are not to be counted. (Holy Zohar on parshas Pinchos)

Ch. 1, v. 2: "L'mish'p'chosom" - To their families - We find no tally of members of each family, only the tribe total. Indeed, Rashi clearly states that knowing the families is only a medium to arrive at the tribal totals. How so? By reporting that they belonged to this or that family, Moshe and Aharon were easily able to verify to which tribe they belonged. (Mahara"l in Gur Aryeh) The reason that there were family totals for the sons of Levi (parshas Nosso) was because each family had specific Mishkon related responsibilities. (Rabbi Volf Heidenheim)

Ch. 1, v. 2: "B'mispar sheimos" - With a count of names - Medrash Hagodol says that no two people had the same name. The total number of different names was equal to the total population.

Ch. 1, v. 3: "Atoh v'Aharon" - You and Aharon - Obviously, having Moshe being escorted by Aharon lent stature to this mission, but the reason that Hashem commanded that both do the counting was because it was a mammoth job, and whomever Moshe would miss, Aharon would remember, and vice versa. (Medrash Hagodol) The reason Aharon was not involved in the census in parshas Ki Siso is because he was the cause for the counting through is involvement with creating the golden calf. (Baal Haturim)

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"? 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."

Ch. 1, v. 16: "Kru'ei ho'eidoh" - Those who are called for the congregation matters - The spelling is with a Yud, "krI'ei," but we read this as if it were spelled with a Vov, "krU'ei." The Baal Haturim says that this word is spelled with a shortened Vov "k'tioh." (We find this by the word "shol*o-*m" in Bmidbar 25:12.) The reason this word is not complete is because this group of elders was incomplete, i.e. lacking in spiritual completion, as the leader of Shimon was Shlumi'el ben Tzurishadai, whom the gemara Sanhedrin 82b says was a.k.a. Zimri ben Solu. Similarly, by the congregation of Korach the verse says "kri'ei mo'eid," lacking even a Yud. This is because this group was totally bad, not like ours, which had mostly good people.

Alternatively, the difference is that here they were called/appointed to their positions by others, hence "kru'ei," and Korach's cohorts called/appointed themselves to positions of stature, hence "kri'ei." (Medrash Hagodol)

Ch. 1, v. 17: "Va'yikach Moshe v'Aharon eis ho'anoshim ho'ei'leh asher nikvu b'sheimos" - And Moshe and Aharon took these people who were designated by names - Rashi d.h. "asher nikvu" says "lo kan, b'sheimos," - to him here. What is Rashi clarifying with these words?

Rashi at the beginning of parshas Shlach on the words "kulom anoshim" (13:3) says that this indicates that they were all righteous people. If so, how can the verse call the twelve tribal leaders "anoshim" here, since Shlumi'el, a.k.a. Zimri, was among them?

The gemara Sanhedrin 82b says that Zimri ben Solu was called five different names in the Torah. The gemara goes on the expound how the four other names besides Shlumi'el, which was his true name, all allude to his immoral behaviour with Kozbi the daughter of Tzur.

This is what Rashi is explaining with "lo kan." The Torah calls them all "anoshim," indicating that they are all righteous. The name designated "lo kan," - to him here, Shlumi'el, was not interpreted by the gemara as a negative name, since at this point in time he had not yet sinned with Kozbi. At this point he was also righteous, so the Torah properly calls them all "anoshim." (Divrei Yo'ir)

The above-mentioned gemara says that one of his names was "Sho'ul ben haKnaanis." He was a grandson of Yaakov who descended to Egypt, as enumerated in parshas Va'yigash. The Maharsh"a says that this would put him at the minimum at the age of 250 years when he committed the sin with Kozbi.

Ch. 1, v. 20: "B'mispar sheimos" - With a count of names - This is the common translation. However, Haksav V'ahakaboloh says in the name of the GR"A that "b'mispar" is to be translated as "with relating," as in "sipur." Each person said his name.

Ch. 2, v. 2: "B'osos" - With signs - This is the common translation. Rabbeinu Bachyei offers that it can also mean "for their desires," sourced from "taavoh." This is based on the medrash, which says that the bnei Yisroel "lusted" flags.

Ch. 2, v. 2: "B'osos l'veis avosom" - With signs to the household of their ancestors - This teaches us that besides the tribal flag, each "beis av" had a smaller flag as well. (N'tzi"v)

Ch. 2, v. 3: "Keidmoh mizrochoh" - Eastward - We translate these two words as being synonymous, both meaning eastward. However, Taamo Dikro says that Yehudoh's tribe was only positioned on the east when the encampment was at rest. When they traveled, Yehudoh was up front, so if, for example, they would travel northward, Yehudoh was no longer positioned in the east. "Keidmoh," in the forward position when traveling, and "mizrochoh" when at rest.

Ch. 3, v. 2: "Habchor Nodov vaAvihu" - The first-born is Nodov and Avihu - The medrash (I have not found it) says that because Aharon named his first son after his father-in-law, and not after his own father, he was punished with the loss of his two older sons. M'kor Chesed, a commentary on Sefer Chasidim, writes that this might be the reason Rabbi Yehudoh Chosid said that one should not marry a woman whose father's or mother's name is the same as his own father's or mother's. If his in-laws were to outlive his parents he would not be able to name his children after his parents.

n.b. - If this were the only reason, if his in-laws were already deceased before his marrying their daughter, this restriction should be lifted.

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? 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 Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha, Chasidic Insights and Chamisha Mi Yodei'a

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