Back to This Week's Parsha | Previous Issues
It is interesting that usually the parashah of Bemidbar is read on the Shabbos before the holiday of Shavuos (this year, being a leap year, it is read two Shabbosos before). What is the association between the two?
Bemidbar begins with Hashem commanding Moshe to take a census of the Jewish People. The strange thing is that it is not the first time that they were counted. Rashi explains:
Because they are dear to Him, He counts them every now and then; when they went forth from Egypt He counted them (Shemos 3:37); when many of them fell in consequence of their having worshiped the golden calf He counted them to ascertain the number of those left; when He was about to make His Shechinah (Divine Presence) dwell amongst them, He again took their census; for on the first day of Nisan the tabernacle was erected and shortly afterwards, on the first day of Iyar, He counted them.
In our daily prayers, both in the morning and in the evening, we precede the reading of the Shema with a paragraph expressing Hashem's intense and unceasing love for His People, Israel (Ahavah Rabbah and Ahavas Olam). It is because of this love that He gave us, and only us, His Holy Torah which is meant to bring us bliss in this world and the World-to-Come.
Therefore it is fitting that Bemidbar, which expresses Hashem's love for Israel, precedes Shavuos, the holiday commemorating the giving of the Torah to Israel.
However, we must understand this concept a little bit deeper. When someone likes something a little, it is enough for him to know, in general terms, approximately how many of them he has. But when he likes something very much, then he counts it to know exactly how many of them he possesses. If Hashem counts the Jews often, it shows that he not only loves the Jewish Nation in general; rather, it proves that every single Jew is beloved to Him. He is not satisfied with a lot of them or even most of them. He wants every single one of them to be His and to benefit from all that He has bestowed upon them.
After Pesach, the yearly gathering of Lev Le'achim took place in Bnei Brak, attended by thousands of volunteers who do outreach work. Chezy Mishkovsky spoke passionately about our obligation to reach out to all of our non religious brothers and sisters and introduce them to the sweetness of the Torah. But he told a story to impress upon them how meticulous they must be in their holy endeavor.
In some town, the volunteers had succeeded in signing up a nice sized group to religious schools. However, over the summer, anti-religious groups influenced the parents and the students to withdraw their names from the school's lists. The young religious activists were very disappointed but not disillusioned. They revisited every home and spoke to the parents and the students all over again. Finally they succeeded in winning back the registrations of all but one of them. When they went to tell Rabbi Shteinman, shlita, the good news, expecting him to celebrate with them, he began to cry. Surprised at his reaction, they asked the venerable sage for an explanation. He said to them, "But what about the one you didn't get back? What will be with him?"
Chezy explained that a father who has lost his children is not satisfied when all but one is returned to him. He wants to retrieve every last one of them. Similarly, and even more so, Hashem loves every single Jew, His beloved children, and if some of them have gone astray, then He wants us to return every single one of them to Him. Only then will He be happy.
On this holiday of Shavuos, when each one of us rejoices that we are able to receive the Torah anew, we should spend some time thinking how we can share this treasure with those who do not yet understand how lucky they are that they have the opportunity to accept the Torah directly from Hashem. And even if we do think of a way to bring some of our brothers and sisters back to our Father, we should never be satisfied until we have returned every Jew we possibly can influence to the sweet ways of the Torah.
Shema Yisrael Torah Network