Back to Main Page

Count on It

By: Ms. Chavi Samet

The name BaMidbar is an appropriate name for the Sefer it opens. For the next few months we will read about Am Yisrael's journey through the desert. However, as we all know, Chazal gave this book an additional name, Chumash HaPekudim, the book of counting’s, as per the censuses that take place, one in our parsha and one in Parshat Pinchas.

As with any name, each one reflects a different facet of the sefer. Rav Chanan Porat, z"l, says that by nature, a desert is a no man's land and therefore a free for all without any semblance of order. A census, on the other hand, is a very strong expression of order as it requires a lot of organization and attention to detail to count an entire nation. He says that this may well be the challenge that faces the Jewish people, trying to reconcile living an ordered spiritual life in such a hefker place as the desert. The question then arises, how does one achieve this? (This question applies not only to Bnei Yisrael's journey through the desert but also to our lives today.)

Rav Porat suggests that surviving in the desert will not come from adapting one's self to the conditions of the desert but rather remaining committed to something more holy and steadfast, that being the Mishkan and the Shechina that resides in the center of the machane (camp). The machane is set up in circles (The Mishkan, surrounded by the Leviim, surrounded by the rest of Am Yisrael) such that the Miskan's kedusha permeates it. It is this point, the Shechina being the center of it all, that allows for a life of spiritual order in the desert.  If one does not remain committed to this anchor, his life may well become as wild and barren as the desert. This is the struggle of Am Yisrael on their way towards the promise land and ours as well in this modern world.

May this idea remain in our consciousness in the days leading up to Matan Torah and well beyond.

Shabbat Shalom!




Back to top