Weekly Portion: BaMidbar, Numbers 1:1-4:20
Every week a portion of the Torah is read in the Synagogue. The portion for this week is called "BaMidbar" i.e. The Wilderness. It comprises the first few chapters of the Book of Numbers (1:1-4:20).
We found a few points we feel may be especially pertinent to the interests of Hebrew Nations.
Duration ca. 25 minutes
The Israelites were encamped around the Tabernacle according to their Tribes and Tribal Symbols. Each Tribe and every person within their Tribe has their own individual destiny and task in this world. Together with this we all need to consider ourselves as a member of the Tribe and part of Israel in general. See also past studies we did (in some detail on certain points) on the "Bamidbar" portion:
A commandment went out for the Israelites to hold a census according to their families and Tribes. The Heads (Princes) of the Tribes are listed; then each Tribe is mentioned with its numbers. After that once again the Heads of the Tribes are recalled with the number of each Tribe but now the Tribes are placed in groups of Three with one of the Tribesxb eing placed at the head of the other two and the total census numbers of each Threesome are also given. The responsibility of the Levites for the Tabernacle is announced. The Family divisions of Aharon are listed. These were the Priestly Families known as Cohens. This is followed by a listing of the Clan Divisions of the Tribe of Levi and the Census of Levi. Each Family group within Levi had its own task in connection with the Tabernacle.
1 Now the Lord spoke to Moses in the Wilderness of Sinai, in the tabernacle of meeting, on the first day of the second month, in the second year after they had come out of the land of Egypt, saying: 2 Take a census of all the congregation of the children of Israel, by their families, by their fathers houses, according to the number of names, every male individually, 3 from twenty years old and above, all who are able to go to war in Israel. You and Aaron shall number them by their armies. 4 And with you there shall be a man from every tribe, each one the head of his father's house.
Every Israelite (apart from those of Levi) between the ages of 20 to 60 was numbered.
5 These are the names of the men who shall stand with you: from Reuben, Elizur the son of Shedeur; 6 from Simeon, Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai; 7 from Judah, Nahshon the son of Amminadab; 8 from Issachar, Nethanel the son of Zuar; 9 from Zebulun, Eliab the son of Helon; 10 from the sons of Joseph: from Ephraim, Elishama the son of Ammihud; from Manasseh, Gamaliel the son of Pedahzur; 11 from Benjamin, Abidan the son of Gideoni; 12 from Dan, Ahiezer the son of Ammishaddai; 13 from Asher, Pagiel the son of Ocran; 14 from Gad, Eliasaph the son of Deuel; 15 from Naphtali, Ahira the son of Enan. 16 These were chosen from the congregation, leaders of their fathers tribes, heads of the divisions in Israel.
Scripture continues and gives the names of the Leaders ofÂ each Tribe.
1:44 These are the ones who were numbered, whom Moses and Aaron numbered, with the leaders of Israel, twelve men, each one representing his father's house. 45 So all who were numbered of the children of Israel, by their fathers houses, from twenty years old and above, all who were able to go to war in Israel, 46 all who were numbered were six hundred and three thousand five hundred and fifty.
The total number was 603,550.
The Levites were to remain separate :
47 But the Levites were not numbered among them by their fathers tribe; 48 for the Lord had spoken to Moses, saying: 49 Only the tribe of Levi you shall not number, nor take a census of them among the children of Israel; 50 but you shall appoint the Levites over the tabernacle of the Testimony, over all its furnishings, and over all things that belong to it; they shall carry the tabernacle and all its furnishings; they shall attend to it and camp around the tabernacle. 51 And when the tabernacle is to go forward, the Levites shall take it down; and when the tabernacle is to be set up, the Levites shall set it up. The outsider who comes near shall be put to death. 52 The children of Israel shall pitch their tents, everyone by his own camp, everyone by his own standard, according to their armies; 53 but the Levites shall camp around the tabernacle of the Testimony, that there may be no wrath on the congregation of the children of Israel; and the Levites shall keep charge of the tabernacle of the Testimony.
The Levites were to remain separate. Maimonides spoke about the Levites and about anyone else who separates themselves to serve the Almighty.
# Not only those from the Tribe of Levi, but every human beingÂ throughout the world whose spirit has made him willing, and whose intellect has guided him, to set himself apart before the Compassionate One, to minister unto Him and to serve Him with the purpose of knowing the Compassionate One -- to walk honestly as the Just One created him to do and to remove from himself the yoke of the many earthly affairs that human beings pursue.Â Such a person is sanctified and is the holy of holies!Â The Compassionate One becomes his portion and his inheritance for all eternity, and will grant him in this world whatever will suffice for his needs, even as He has done for the Kohanim and the Levites.Â Thus David, peace be upon him, said, "The Compassionate One is my allotted portion and my share, You guide my destiny" [Tehillim/Psalm 16:5].Â [Mishneh Torah, the Laws of the Sabbatical and Jubilee Years 13:12-13]
"Brit-Am Now"- 430
#2. The Tribe of Levi
The Levites were not numbered. They did not have to serve in the army or do other public service.
Nowadays in the Land of Israel the task of the Levites is fulfilled by a minority amongst the Ultra-Orthodox who learn Torah full time.
Up until now the government has recognized the special task these full-time scholars have fulfilled. They have not usually been conscripted into the army and a very small monthly stipend was paid to them.
Now all this might change.
There are secular forces in Israel against them. These secular anti-religious elements are against the Jewish religion. In some cases they receive funding from Reform Jews and from the EU. The Germans and the Europeans in general are against the Jewish People and the Jewish Religion. We are not talking about things said behind ones back and money passed under the table. This is official policy, registered in governmental budgets, and approved at official levels.
This is, or should be, basically an internal-Jewish issue. Suffice to say that Learning the Torah is good for the Jewish People and good for Israeli society. Every shekel they may have received from the Israel government was returned several times over.Â The money comes back almost immediately. This may be proven statistically.Â In addition there are numerous long term positive effects. These are the facts but no-one is really interested in what the facts are but rather in their individual ideological convictions.
2:1 And the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying: 2 Everyone of the children of Israel shall camp by his own standard, beside the emblems of his father's house; they shall camp some distance from the tabernacle of meeting.
Scripture then continues and gives the numbers of each tribe.
Every Tribe had its own standard.
The Commentary "Netivot Shalom" (Rabbi Sholom Noach Berezovsky, 1911 - 2000, the Slonimer Rebbe) points out that we have two distinct but complementary principles:Â The individual emblems for each tribe show us that everyone has their own peculiarity, their own unique task in life. We all have to search and find our own goal in this world. On the other hand our portion gives us the census of each tribe, the census of each group of three tribes, and the census of all the Israelites together. This comes to show us that in order to find our complete fulfillment we need to be part of a larger whole, part of a tribal group, then of a tribe, then of all Israel.
The Midrash (BaMidbar Rabah 2;7) gives the emblem of each tribe and also describes the precious stone (on the Breastplate of the High Priest) peculiar to each tribe.
The Midrash tells us what the Tribal Symbols were. We compare them with Modern Nations
There are other sources that give different tribal emblems from those mentioned by the Midrash.
Reuben was represented by the mnadrakes (dudaim). Other sources say by a rising sun.
Simeon was represented by an image of the city of Schechem.
Levi had the Breastplate of the High Priest.
Judah had a lion.
Issachar had the sun and moon. Others say a picture of donkey.
Zebulon a ship.
Dan had a snake. others say a lion, or a pair of scales.
Gad had a group of tents representing a unit of soldiers. Others show an ax, or a sword.
Naphtali had a female deer.
Â Asher had an olive tree.
Joseph hadÂ a representation of Egypt. Others show Joseph with a palm tree, or with a grape vine, or with a sheep.
Ephraim had a bull.
Historically England was dominated by Ephraim.
Menasseh had a unicorn, others show a bull but this is a mistake.
Benjamin is shown by a wolf.Â
Scripture lists the Tribes in Â groups of three.
The Triune Groupings
2:1 And the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying: 2 Everyone of the children of Israel shall camp by his own standard, beside the emblems of his father's house; they shall camp some distance from the tabernacle of meeting.Â
On the east side was Judah (2:3) at the head of Issachar and Zebulon.
On the south side was Reuben (2:10) at the head of Simeon and Gad.
On the west side shall be the standard of the forces with Ephraim according to their armies (2:18). Ephraim was the leader of Manasseh and Benjamin. Ephraim and Manasseh were the sons of Joseph who was the brother of Benjamin. Joseph and Benjamin were the children of Rachel, the favorite wife of Jaacob.
"The standard of the forces with Dan shall be on the north side according to their armies, and the leader of the children of Dan shall be Ahiezer the son of Ammishaddai" (2:25). Dan headed the forces of Asher and Naphtali.
These groupings of Three as well as their relative position around the Tabernacle were to be repeated in the history of their descendants. Peoples who we identify as belonging to specific tribes in western Europe were usually neighbors to and/or historically associated with other peoples whom we identify as their associates in the Threesomes mentioned here.Â