MAY 23-24, 2014 24 IYAR 5774
"They were registered by ancestry according to their paternal families" (Bemidbar 1:18)
The fourth book of the Torah begins with a counting of the Israelites. That is why Bemidbar is called by some as "Numbers." We find repeated references to the tcm, the army. The nation's able-bodied men are called the Army of Hashem. Rashi explains that they actually had to bring proof of their ancestry. Why was it necessary to investigate the pedigree of the men who were eligible for military service? Rabbi Hirsch explains that while prime qualifications for members of the armies of other nations are bravery, courage and physical strength, a Jewish army has an entirely different set of standards: pedigreed family purity. The reason for this is because lineage is an assurance that the soldiers will possess the qualities of mercy and kindness inherited from their ancestors. These qualities are essential in a time of war to avoid needless shedding of innocent blood through massacres and brutalities.
Rabbi Hirsch also says that the Army of Hashem is not exclusively for military service. What it means is that every man who is able is duty bound to step out of his simple, private life into the public service of the community whenever it is demanded of him. Why is it described as an army? Because in the army, every man is assigned a post and every soldier knows he must not abandon his position. Similarly, in the service of Hashem, every Jew has a job to sanctify Hashem's name in this world. Hashem, in His direct involvement in our lives, has placed us all in different positions. Many of us are in the workplace; many are teachers, students, housewives and Rabbis. Hashem has placed us all; there is no position in life in which a Jew doesn't have the opportunity to give honor to Hashem's name. We are all good at what we do. Don't leave your post; sanctify Hashem's name. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah
"Count the heads of all the Children of Israel." (Bemidbar 1:2)
Whenever the Jewish people were counted, they had to give a certain coin which, by counting that coin, we could know the number of people. Once, in the time of King David, the people themselves were counted and a great plague ensued. Even today, when we count individuals for a minyan or the like, we don't say, "one, two, three..." but rather we say words of a pasuk such as "///lhng ,t vghauv" through which we all know the total number. Why is there such an emphasis on not counting people by number?
Rabenu Bahya explains that when people are included in a group, they have the merit of the entire group and thereby are protected. When an individual becomes separated by being counted, then he is on his own, and he must have his own protection. Even when we pray for sick people, we always include the individual with the entire nation by saying, "ktrah hkuj rta lu,c - Among all of the sick in Israel," so that they should have the merit of the whole nation. This should teach us that although we are all individuals, unique and separate, our strength lies in our being part of a greater whole, the Jewish people. We should try not to stand out and not separate ourselves from community involvement. By joining together in the synagogue's programs, such as minyan, classes and activities, we will have the blessing of the multitudes in addition to our own zechut. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
A quick tip to boost the power of your prayer. Hazal tell us (Masechet Baba Kama Daf 92A) that Hashem loves the tefilot of one Jew for another so much that anyone who prays on behalf of a fellow Jew with similar needs will have his prayer answered first. A special service has now begun to provide people with names of others who find themselves in a similar predicament. You can call with complete anonymity and get the name of someone to pray for and give the name of someone that needs our prayers. The name of the service is Kol Hamitpalel. Categories include: Marriage; Income; Health; To have children etc.
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