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Simcha Groffman

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Parashas Bamidbar

The Organization Foundation

"My necklace! My necklace! Where is my pearl necklace? It was on my neck a moment ago!"

"Imma, I am sure that we will find it. Let's look under the table."

"That necklace is very valuable. It belonged to my grandmother."

"Here it is! It was under the bookshelf."

"Boruch Hashem! Thank you Hashem for returning it to me!"

"I see how it fell off, Imma. The clasp came undone. It looks like it needs some repair work."

"I must take it to get fixed right away. If the clasp that holds the necklace is weak, it can fall off my neck at any time. Worse yet, the thread that holds the pearls together can come undone. Then the pearls would scatter all over. It would be almost impossible to find them all."

"My dear wife, do you know that Rav Yerucham Levovitz, the Mashgiach of the Mirrer Yeshiva, uses the pearl necklace as an example to illustrate a very important principle of Avodas Hashem?"

"Please tell me all about it."

"This week's parasha describes the seder (order) of the encampment of Bnei Yisrael in the Midbar in great detail. We learn about the degalim (banners) and their respective tribes, their arrangement around the Mishkan, their numbers, the tasks of the Kohanim and Leviim in putting up, taking down, and transporting the Mishkan. The order of travel is also described in parashas Beha'aloscha. The Torah dedicates much effort to describe this seder in all of its details."

"It must be very important because the Torah does not waste any words."

"That is precisely Rav Yerucham's point. He cites a startling example of the significance of seder. At the end of parashas Emor, the megadef (blasphemer) cursed using the sacred Name of Hashem. What caused him to become so agitated that he committed such a terrible crime? He was not allowed to place his tent in Machane Dan, the tribe of his mother. The tribal encampment followed the tribe of the father, not the mother. He was so upset that he was excluded from the seder of the camp the he felt he belonged to, that he committed a capital crime. This dramatic example shows us the importance of the seder of the tribes in the camp."

"Please tell me more."

"Rav Yerucham had the privilege of learning in the renowned mussar yeshiva of Kelm. They were extremely careful with seder in all of its aspects. He gives examples of how far the concept of seder goes. The Alter of Kelm would rebuke a student who did not place his chair in the proper place. He once wore a garment for thirty years, and then gave it to Rav Yerucham. It looked liked brand-new. The Alter never turned his eyes to the sides, he only looked straight ahead. When Rav Yerucham entered the Beis HaMedrash of Kelm for the first time, he did not see the Alter because he was fearful of raising his eyes. Looking up or around unnecessarily showed a lack of seder in ones actions, and therefore, except in cases of great emergency, it was not done in Kelm. The Alter placed his hat properly on his head at the beginning of the day, and it did not move from there. His learning seder went from beginning to end without interruption. The Alter would speak about Rav Chaim Volozhin who would go to sleep precisely on time, even if he was in the middle of a line in the gemora."

"How does he relate this to the pearl necklace?"

"The knot that ties the string of pearls together is not the main part of the necklace; however, if it comes untied, the entire necklace will fall apart. The knot guards the pearls from getting lost. So too with seder. It is the knot that guards all of the good things in the world. If a person is mesudar (organized), his Torah, tefillah, and mitzvos are all safely guarded. He will get up, pray, begin learning, and finish learning at a fixed time."

"It is relaxing just to think about such a regular schedule."

"This is how Hashem runs His world - precisely. The sun rises at a specific time every day. If it rose a few moments early, the entire world would be thrown off and the damage would be incalculable. This shows us that seder is much more than the knot in the string of pearls; rather it itself is a gem. It is the foundation upon which everything rests. Nothing can be accomplished without seder! It is one of the greatest qualities that a person can possess!"

"Abba, we went looking for a pearl necklace and found something much more valuable - seder. Organization is our foundation.

Kinderlach . . .

Now is the time to work on seder in your lives. If you develop good habits now, you will have them the rest of your lives. How many different types of seder can we list? There is seder in time - keeping on schedule for learning, praying, sleeping, eating, and other activities. Our possessions are also mesudar - our notebooks, schoolbags, closets, clothes, and rooms are neat and organized. Our eating benefits from seder - we eat only the foods and amounts that are good for us. Our actions are mesudar - we cross the street only at the crosswalk when the light is green. We walk, sit, and stand straight and dignified. Even our thoughts are mesudar! We listen and do not interrupt when someone is speaking to us. We do not let our mind wander during tefillah or learning seder. We mesader (organize) our middos and are happy, sad, excited, calm, kind, indifferent, etc., as the time and situation require. Seder organizes our learning. When we learn a gemora, halacha, or mussar thought, we organize it in our minds, categorize it, relate it to other similar ideas, review it, and remember it. Our method of learning is also highly organized, as we systematically proceed through the question and answer process of the Oral Torah. Rav Yerucham said it all - seder is practically the crown of all good qualities. Organization is the foundation!

Parasha Questions:

What were the four banners and which tribes were in each one? (2:3-31)

Who was originally designated to perform the Avodah and why? (3:12, 13 and Rashi)

Who replaced them and why? (3:12, 13 and Rashi)

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