Weekly Reading Insights: Bamidbar 5765


Overview of the Weekly Reading: Bamidbar

To be read on 26 Iyar 5765 (June 4)

Torah: Numbers 1:1-4:20
Haftorah: Hosea 2:1-22 (begins: "The numbers of the Children of Israel")

Pirkei Avot
Chapter 5

Bamidbar is the 1st Reading out of 10 in Numbers and 34th overall, and 3rd out of 54 in overall length.

Bamidbar begins by relating how Moshe, Aharon, and a prince from each tribe took a census of the Jews (the tribe of Levi was excluded from this census). Then, G-d explains the Levite service in taking apart and reassembling the Tabernacle during the Jews’ travels in the desert. Then is described the location of each tribe’s encampment. The next section deals with the genealogy of Aharon; the status of the Levites in assisting the priests’ service in the Tabernacle; and the Levites taking the place of the firstborn (who were originally intended to serve in the Tabernacle, but lost this privilege by sinning with the golden calf.) Then, G-d commands Moshe to take a census of the Levites, a census of the firstborns, and redeem the firstborns who were in excess of the Levites. The concluding section describes the Tabernacle duties of the Kehos family of Levites.


From the holy Zohar, teachings of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai (Z:34-65/Bamidbar)

If a person recounts the praise of his friend and doesn't confirm that the praise is for a blessing, then that person is ensnared [to his harm] in the spiritual realms first. However, if he blesses him, then he himself is blessed from above.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.

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From the holy Ari, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria of Safed (A:)

see next week

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.

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From "The Torah Commentary of Rabbeinu Bachya". (S:34-65/Bamidbar)

There are two kinds of armies. One army serves as an instrument of warfare, the other serves as the base for the Shechina. The fact that G d wanted only those over 20 years old to be counted does not mean that His Presence cannot rest on younger people if they are worthy.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.


"The L-rd spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the Tent of Meeting." (1:1)
"In the wilderness of Sinai" teaches that a Jew should be as humble as Mount Sinai, the smallest of all the mountains; "in the Tent of Meeting" teaches that he should be joyous, as the word for "Meeting," "Moed," also means festival. The greater one's humility, the more genuine joy he will experience at having merited to be able to serve G-d.
(Rabbi Elimelech of Lizhensk)

"For six years you shall prune your vineyard." (25:3)
The Jewish people are called a "vineyard": For G-d's vineyard is the army of the House of Israel. (Isaiah 5). Each and every Jew must work at clearing up and pruning his own vineyard-his unfavorable traits such as jealousy, hatred, lustfulness, etc.
(Likutei Torah)


from the Chabad Master series, produced by Rabbi Yosef Marcus for

www.ascentofsafed.com and www.kabbalaonline.org

MOSHIACH THIS WEEK (M:34-65/Bamidbar)

"Take a census of the entire congregation of the Children of Israel." (Numbers 1:2)
Our Sages note that the giving of the Torah at Sinai required the presence of all 600,000 Jews; if just one had been missing, the Torah would not have been given. Parshat Bamidbar is always read before Shavuot, the day on which the Torah was given, to remind us of this principle. Furthermore, it reminds us that it was not enough for all Jews to be present; it was necessary that the Jewish people be united in love for one another. "Israel camped there [before Mount Sinai] as one man with one mind." This peace and unity is the channel for all Divine blessings, including the greatest of all -- the coming of Mashiach.
(Peninei HaGeula)

[Reprinted with permission from L'Chaim Magazine (www.lchaim.org).]

An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent

(for a free weekly email subscription, click here) (W:34-65/Bamidbar)

Bamidbar is both the name of this week's Torah portion as well as the name of the entire 4th book of the Torah that will carry us into the holiday of the Giving of the Torah, Shavuot, and through much of the summer months when we venture out on vacation.

The book begins, "And G-d spoke to Moshe in the 'midbar' of Sinai". Though called in English the 'Book of Numbers', 'Bamidbar' actually means 'in the desert'. A desert is, at least at face value, not a pleasant place. A desert is a place where negative forces have a stronghold, as the verse says, (Deut 8) "(A desert is a place of) Snakes, and vipers and scorpions and thirst, where there is no water".

Rabbi Naftali of Rofshitz says that a desert actually demonstrates our Torah's strongpoint. G-d even spoke to us in the desert. The message of the Torah is so powerful that is can reach even the lowliest places at their most abysmal point, and from there the Torah is able to elevate everything. R' Naftali emphasizes that this refers to every place and person, even those individuals who see themselves as too far away, too entrenched to be affected.

From the prophets and Talmud we learn that we should read Bamidbar between last week's portion of Bechukotai and the holiday of Shavuot. To accomplish this, the calendar has to sometimes be adjusted.

The reason is because Bechukotai has a very long and fierce section of warnings to the Jewish people of the consequences for not following the Torah. On Shavuot we receive the Torah every single year anew. Let the old year and its curses end before beginning a new year. We do this by using Bamidbar as a separation between Bechukotai, the portion with curses, and the holiday of Shavuot in Sivan.

Only in certain years, like the present one, the following Shabbat with the portion, Naso, may also fall just before Shavuot.

Nevertheless, the lesson is clear. When you are about to begin something new prepare yourself properly, get rid of the old baggage. Making the effort to see things with a positive perspective will guarantee that you maximize the experience.

Rabbi Elimelech of Liszensk comes to this idea in a different way, by focusing on the word 'Sinai' in the first verse. The Midrash tells us that though Mt. Sinai was a mountain, it was the smallest mountain.

This is to teach us that just as G-d disregarded the high mountains, a Jew is supposed to feel that he is lowly and where spiritual growth is concerned, he always has a long way to go. Still, Mt. Sinai was a mountain, a hint that it is forbidden to see ourselves as utterly hopeless because this could lead to a person becoming sad.

Sadness is the greatest obstacle to hashra'at haSchechina, the imbuing of divinity into each of us. This is the reason that the Torah commands us that while we are supposed to feel lowly, we also always must be happy, just like a person who is lacking things but still feels happy at a special event or a holiday.

This command to be happy is hinted in the continuation of the verse, 'And G-d spoke to Moshe in the desert of Sinai, from the tent of Moed'. 'Moed' is usually translated as 'meeting' (tent of meeting), but the word 'moed' literally means 'an appointed time' and is consistently used to refer to holiday celebrations.

When will G-d be revealed to us? First, in the 'Bamidbar Sinai', when we feel we have a lot of work to do, but also when we are in the Tent of Moed, a place of the 'holiday', when we feel happy.

For fear of maligning too much the word 'Bamidbar', we find in the writings of the Tzemach Tzekek, the 3rd Rebbe of Chabad, a very nice twist. There is the desert of unholiness as we discussed above, and there is also the desert of holiness.

The desert of holiness is when a person feels thirsty for G-dliness all of the time. He so much wants to be connected, that there is never enough to satisfy him. When we begin Bamidbar, a person should start to expect himself to be in a desert of holiness, always thirsty for Torah.

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul

P.S. Please also read my weekly Shabbat Law, below.)

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