This week we begin Bamidbar, the Book of Numbers. This, the fourth book of the Torah, acquired its Latin/English name because it begins with a count of the Children of Israel. This, though, is not the first such census — we find repeated counts of the Jewish Nation throughout the Torah.
Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki (Rashi), commenting at the beginning of our reading, explains why: “because they are precious before Him, He counts them every hour: when they left Egypt He counted them, and when they fell due to the Golden Calf He counted them to know the number remaining, and when He came to rest His Divine Presence upon them, he counted them.”
G-d established the People of Israel to bring His message to the world… and each individual plays a critical role. Each one is precious.
Today’s crisis of assimilation and intermarriage has come about because Jews have lost an understanding of the value and privilege of carrying His Torah. The decision to marry another Jewish person should never be a matter of racial or ethnic bias — after all, anyone is welcome to join the Jewish People. On the contrary, a Jewish marriage is built around our shared mission, a mission which is transmitted “to your children and your children’s children.” Both partners must share the goal of raising the next Jewish generation.
When we learn and study Judaism, it cannot only be for ourselves — it must be shared with others. Every Jew must be inspired to understand, share the mission and help ensure the Jewish future.
Bringing the divine back light into the world, and perfecting this world for God is tikkun olam. Knowing the secrets is not enough, we must continue to share the mysteries of Torah.
does anyone know how many left Egypt ? I’ve heard from 40,000 to 2 million.
thank you, Rick
I’ve heard it estimated around 3 million.
My father arrived in Canada after the Holocaust in 1949. His parents were not practicing Jews, but both had a mother who was Jewish, one Davidovich, one Taube..They met during the years of 1918-21 fighting the Red Russians and moved to the former Czechoslovakia. We lost, on my fathers count, 28 relatives during this horror…He married a French Canadian and distanced himself from all religion ….I learned of my family history in the 60’s at the age I should have been preparing for my Bar Mitzvah…. I discovered and searched varied religions, and as an adult I attended the adult evening classes at Ohr Somayach in Toronto for about 6 years. I met some great and learned Rabbinical staff. My wife is not Jewish but understood and respected my continued interest. My sons are circumcised as I am, however they choose to be without religion, yet they understand their family history. One never knows how these facts will be realized in their futures. I know that their thinking and behaviour has been influenced by these experiences. Belief lingers in our consciousness.