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B”H

BAMIDBAR - YOU COUNT!!
By Rabbi Yonassan Biggs

---

 
Shalom and Bracha!

This Shabbat we read the portion of Bamidbar and bless the month of Sivan. Friday, May 30th, is Rosh Chodesh Sivan, when the Jewish people arrived in the wilderness of Sinai to receive the Torah. June 4th and 5th are Shavuot, when we celebrate Hashem giving the Torah on Mount Sinai. The theme of portion is the counting of the Jewish people. The Midrash explains that the counting of the Jewish people demonstrates their dearness in the eyes of Hashem. The simple meaning thereof is that just as we keep careful account of our precious possessions, Hashem, although He knew the tally, demonstrated our preciousness by having us counted.

A deeper perspective is that by counting the Jewish people He revealed and highlighted an aspect of our dearness. When counting, all of the counted parties are equal. No one counts more or less than anyone else. A person has two aspects: his accomplishments, by which he differs from all those around him, and the essence of his soul, which is the spark of G-d within each one of us. By counting us, Hashem revealed and highlighted the essence of our soul which unites all of us. This also teaches us how our attitude must be particularly this Shabbat. Rather than focusing on someone’s appearance or social stature, we must treat everyone with respect and dignity because they bear within them a spark of G-d. This is reflected in a practical sense in a Minyan: ten men form a Minyan regardless of their special qualities or weaknesses. Nine men cannot form a Minyan regardless of their individual greatness. This gives us a tremendous encouragement and sense of self worth. Each person is important in the eyes of Hashem and his good acts are critical to the world. This is reflected in the teaching of the Talmud that Adam was created as a lone human being to teach us that every person must perceive the world as being created for them and fully dependent on their good deeds.

This is central to Rosh Chodesh Sivan and to the giving of the Torah. When describing the events that preceded the Giving of the Torah, the Torah relates that on Rosh Chodesh Sivan the Jewish people entered the wilderness of Sinai and camped facing The Mountain. Unlike all of the other encampments (including the other encampment mentioned in the same verse) where the Torah refers to the Jewish people in the plural, “they camped,” when relating the encampment in Sinai the Torah uses the singular “he camped.” The Talmud explains that when we prepared to receive the Torah, we were like one being with one heart. This unity was the necessary preparation to receive the Torah. Chassidut explains that this unity was the revelation of the essence of the soul that unites all of us, similar to that which is reflected in the counting in this week’s portion. Further, the number of letters in the Torah corresponds to the number of people who were present at its giving. Just as every letter in a Torah scroll is necessary for the sanctity of the scroll, every Jew is an integral part of our people. The Rebbe has stressed that this Shabbat afternoon people should have celebrative gatherings with the theme of Jewish unity and that these gatherings will bring tremendous blessings.

This unity comes to a culmination in the observance of Shavuot. When the Torah is read Shavuot morning (Wednesday, June 4th), everyone, man, woman and child should be in the synagogue. When the Torah was first given all souls were present. If anyone had been missing, the Torah would not have been given. Similarly, when we read the narrative of the giving of the Torah on Shavuot morning, everyone should be present. Every individual’s attendance enhances the Holiday and elucidates Hashem’s blessings for the entire Jewish people.

Divisiveness brought the destruction of the Temple and unity will bring its rebuilding. May we merit the coming of Moshiach speedily and to hear the new depths of Torah he will reveal.

Shabbat Shalom and Chodesh Tov,

Rabbi Biggs

Dedicated to Casey Brooks and Raymond Chera on the occasion of their wedding. May their home be permeated with love and joy and illuminated with the light of Torah

There is a Great Shavuot Website at http://www.chabadgn.com/holidays/shavuot

A project of Chabad of Great Neck
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