Chamishoh Mi Yo'dei'a

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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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1) Ch. 1, v. 2: "B'mispar sheimos" - What exactly is this counting of names?

2) Ch. 1, v. 8,9: "L'Yisochor, LiZvulun" - To the tribe of Yisochor, To the tribe of Z'vulun - By the blessings of Yaakov (Breishis 49:13,14) and by the blessings of Moshe (Dvorim 33:18) the Torah gives precedence to Z'vulun. Rashi (Dvorim 33:18) comments that Z'vulun is mentioned first because he was the enabler of Yisochor's pursuit of Torah, supplying his physical needs. Why then in our parsha does the Torah mention Yisochor ahead of Z'vulun three times (here, 1:28, and 2:5)?

3) Ch. 2, v. 18: "Degel macha'neh Efrayim l'tzivosom yomoh" - The banner of the camp of Efrayim to their to their legions westward - This is the only one of the four group heads where it mentions their position after saying "to their legions" (see verses 3,10, and 25). Why?

4) Ch. 3, v. 15: "Mi'ben chodesh vomaloh tif'k'deim" - From the age of a month and over you should count them - Here we do not find the word "l'gul'g'losom," a head count, as we find by the counting of all other tribes (1:2). Why?

5) Ch. 4, v. 9: "M'noras hamo'ore" - Candelabrum of illumination - Why does the Torah describe the menorah in relation to its function? We find this nowhere else.



1) This teaches us that we arrived at a census count not through each family advising how many members it had, but rather by counting each person separately. (GR"A)

2) Rather than counting person after person by number, one, two, three, etc., they were counted by their names, Reuvein, Shimon, Levi, etc. This was done because the names of the bnei Yisroel are dear to Hashem. (Sha"ch)

3) Rather than counting the people themselves, their names were written upon notes and these were counted. (Ralba"g)

4) They were counted by names because they had unique positions and responsibilities. This was not the case with the counting of those who were to enter Eretz Yisroel; hence the words "b'mispar sheimos" does not appear there (Bmidbar 26:2). (Sforno)

5) Since the bnei Yisroel who left Egypt had the attribute that they did not change their names to Egyptian names, even though they were the third generation that was born there, counting by name is stressed here. (Baal Haturim)

6) "B'mispar" should not be translated as "with a count," but rather coming from the word form "l'sa'peir," meaning "with relating." Each person told his name to the census takers. (Haksav V'hakaboloh)

7) Each person wrote his name into a census book, "b'sefer," and the names were tallied. (Malbim)


Although Z'vulun has the merit of supporting Torah study, nevertheless, his activities are not greater than that of the bnei Yisochor, as the support is for the end-purpose of Torah study. Our parsha deals with the names, the count, and the location in the encampment of the tribes. These matters are dictated by the intrinsic greatness of the tribes, hence Yisochor is mentioned earlier. By the blessings it is proper to mention Z'vulun first because it is only through the success of Z'vulun in his sea-faring endeavours that Yisochor is able to be supported. (Admor of Skulen)


Perhaps we can explain this with an insight offered on parshas Trumoh 5763. << Ch. 26, v. 18: "Negboh teimonoh" - To the south - Sometimes the word used for "south" is "dorome," as in "Holeich el dorome " (Koheles 1:6). The word "dorome" is really a composite of "dor rom," with the letter Reish serving a double duty, as the end of the first word and as the beginning of the second. This means that the sun "resides up high" on this side. The east is called "mizrach," because that is the location of the first shining (rays) of the sun when the day begins. A person naturally turns to that direction first at the beginning of the day, hence the word "kedem" also being used for "east." Once facing that way and having the sun advance somewhat in the sky, it is to one's southeast. Because of the southern factor in the sun's position while the observer is facing east, we have the word "teimon," as the sun is to his right side, "y'min." Sometimes "ochor" is used for "west" (T'hilim 139:5) because when one is facing east, the first direction one turns to see light at the beginning of the day, the west is behind him. "Maarov" is also used for "west" because when the sun is in the west it is beginning its descent towards evening, "erev." The north is called "tzofone" because the sun is never in the north, hence it is "hidden" from that direction. (Ramban)>>

Although the choice of the word "yomoh" for "west" rather than another word is not being explained, once the word "yomoh" is used, perhaps we can say that the words used for the other 3 directions mentioned are based on celestial matters, the position is mentioned earlier. Since "yomoh" is used for "west" simply because the "yam hatichon," the Mediterranean Sea, is the western border of Eretz Yisroel, a position that is based on an earthly matter is mentioned later. (Nirreh li)


1) The Chasam Sofer explains that there is the possibility of a child being born with 2 heads, as is mentioned in the gemara M'nochos 37a-b. By the rest of the bnei Yisroel where only those above the age of twenty years were to be counted, a two-headed person would have already died, so "l'gul'g'losom," a "head count," would be accurate. However, by the tribe of Levi, which was counted from the age of a month and older, a two-headed child could still be alive, so the Torah does not say to do a "head count."

2) Rabbi Shlomo haKohein of Vilna disagrees with the Chasam Sofer, citing a number of reasons. One is that he shows from the medrash that no children were born with fatal flaws in the desert. He explains that the reason the Torah does not mention a head count is because by the rest of the tribes, only men from the age of 20 and older were counted, and they came in front of Moshe and Aharon to be counted, hence a head count, i.e. they were counted singly. However, the tribe of Levi was counted from the age of one month and up. This obviously included babies. Moshe asked Hashem how to count babies, as he said that it would be inappropriate to enter the tents of nursing mothers to count. Hashem responded that he should stand in front of the tents of those who had babies and a Celestial voice emanated, telling him the total number of males above the age of one month in that family (see Rashi on 3:16 d.h. "Al pi Hashem"). Hence he did not count the Lviim singly, and the term "l'gul'g'losom" is not mentioned.


The Rashb"a in his responsa #309 and the Ramban write that although there is no mitzvoh to have the menorah burning by day, nevertheless, it is prohibited to extinguish the flames even by day. They source this ruling from a Sifri.

We are discussing packaging the Mishkon vessels for travel. This is why our verse stresses that the menorah serves the purpose of illumination. Even though it is being wrapped for travel, it still must be allowed to continue burning, "hamo'ore." (Taamo Dikro)



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

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