Bamidbar | ????? | “In the wilderness “
– Lift up your Head, Stand and Redemption is drawing near!
– My son, don’t despise the discipline of Most High ! Later produces its peaceful fruit, which is righteousness
The Hebrew name of the fourth book of the Torah is Bamidbar(?????), which means “In the wilderness.” It comes from the first words of the first verse, which say, “Then the LORD spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai” – Numbers 1:1.The book of Numbers tells the story of Israel’s Journey through the wilderness on their way to the Promised Land, their failure at the edge of the land and the subsequent forty years of wandering and ends with the Israelites poised on the edge of Canaan, ready to take their inheritance.
Bamidbar ( in the Wilderness ) , camped around the Dwelling Presence of the Holy One of Israel is a good place to be, My beloved.
Summary of these studies:
- Numbering of Israel
- Assembling and numbering of the tribes for the men of war
- Arranging tribes by standard and location by temple
- Leviim are given to Aharon instead of the firstborn
- Changes and duties are given to Leviim
- Laws for moving the tabernacle and camp
Now HaShem 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… -Numbers 1:1
The purpose for this head lifting of all of Israel is made clear in this week’s portion: The book opens in this week’s parsha with G-d’s instructions to the Israelites to “take a census of the entire assembly of the Children of Israel…” –Numbers 1:2
Take a census [s’u et-rosh: lift the head] of all the congregation of the children of Israel, by their families, by their father’s houses, according to the number of names, every male individually, 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.
The RaMBaN said: HaShem told Moshe: Count each and every [member of Israel] with honor and dignity. Do not merely ask the head of each household how many children he has. Rather, everyone should pass before you with honor, and you should count them’.
One thing I have desired of HaShem, that will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of HaShem all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of HaShem, and to inquire in His temple. For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; in the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock. And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me; therefore I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to HaShem. -Psalms 27:4-6
Lift up your Head:
So, “take a census” really says, “lift the head.” What is it to “lift the head” . we can see the same Hebrew word used first is found where Yosef interprets the Pharaoh’s CupBearer’s dream,
Now within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your place, and you will put Pharaoh’s cup in his hand according to the former manner, when you were his butler. -Genesis 40:13
And then we see the negative side to it where Yosef interprets Pharaoh’s baker’s dream,So Joseph answered and said, “This is the interpretation of it: The three baskets are three days. Within three days Pharaoh will lift off your head from you and hang you on a tree; and the birds will eat your flesh from you.” -Genesis 40:18-19
The focus of redemption is not individuals, but community:
Come, have your head lifted – be named among the Redeemed Ones – and camp around the Dwelling Presence of the Most High.
Individuals are redeemed, but good news is that We were meant to be a part of a redeemed community. Messiah came, as he himself said, for “the lost sheep of the house of Israel,” and his sacrifice, just as the Passover lamb, was for the entire nation of Israel.
It was not merely an individual salvation plan. The redemption was not solely for an elect few of the Israelite nation, but for the entire nation.
Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. -Deuteronomy 11:18-20
Yeshua Words: ………….. look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws nigh. -Luke 21:28
Yes, think about him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you won’t grow tired or become despondent. You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in the contest against sin. Also you have forgotten the counsel which speaks with you as sons:
“My son, don’t despise the discipline of Adonai or become despondent when he corrects you. For Adonai disciplines those he loves and whips everyone he accepts as a son.” Regard your endurance as discipline; G-d is dealing with you as sons. For what son goes undisciplined by his father? All legitimate sons undergo discipline; so if you don’t, you’re a mamzer and not a son! Furthermore, we had physical fathers who disciplined us, and we respected them; how much more should we submit to our spiritual Father and live! For they disciplined us only for a short time and only as best they could; but he disciplines us in a way that provides genuine benefit to us and enables us to share in his holiness. Now, all discipline, while it is happening, does indeed seem painful, not enjoyable; but for those who have been trained by it, it later produces its peaceful fruit, which is righteousness. -Hebrews 12:3-11
Beloved, this is the same generation that died in the Wilderness. For them, the Wilderness became the end of the line. The purpose for which their heads were lifted is clear – they were intended to be the generation that conquered the Land – they were to be warriors for Most High. In the end, they failed to live up to their destiny. Do not be like those who perished in the Wilderness. If His name is upon you, believe Him and Obey his voice to have a redemption.
Today if you would hear His voice, do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as in the day of Massah in the wilderness, when your fathers tested Me … For forty years I loathed that generation and said they are a people who err in their heart, and they do not know My ways. Therefore I swore in My anger, truly they shall not enter into My rest – Psalm 95:8-11.
Similarly, the Great Emissary Rabbi Shaul warned the believers in Corinth:
For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Messiah. Nevertheless, with most of them G-d was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness… Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come -1 Corinthians 10:1-5, 11.
The first reading from Bamidbar and the thirty-fourth reading from the Torah begin with a census of the tribes of Israel and the Levitical families just prior to the departure from Sinai. Bamidbar means, “In the desert,” and is read before the holiday of Shavuot when the Torah was given on Mount Sinai. To relive the Sinai experience (i.e spiritual growth), we must often first have to pass through our own “spiritual desert” and its our lessons.
G-d commanded Moses to take a census of the Israelites just before the building of the Tabernacle (Exodus 30:11-16) and we are told that it has been accomplished (Exodus 38-25-6). That occurrence was only one month before this census is commanded. Why does G-d need the people to be counted so often? Rashi comments, “Because they were dear to G-d, G-d counts them all the time – when they went out of Egypt, G-d counted them; when many of them fell for having worshipped the golden calf, G-d counted them to ascertain how many were left, when the Shechina was about to dwell among them, G-d again took their census, for on the first day of Nisan the Tabernacle was erected, and shortly afterward, on the first day of Iyar, G-d counted them.”
“And the Lord said to Moshe in the Sinai desert saying…” – Numbers 1:1
Rebbe Meir Shapiro states that the Torah was given through three mediums: fire, water and the desert.
From here the Sages learned that the Torah was given in three ways: through fire, through water and through the desert.
Fire was used to bring out the deep devotion of Avraham to Hashem in the fiery furnace. Nachshon ben Aminadav and after him all of Israel, jumped into the waters of Yam Suf, pursued by the Egyptians, showing their dedication and belief in Hashem. Finally, in the desert, the Jews showed their constant and relentless commitment to Hashem by following Him for forty years in the desolate desert!
Where do we see that it is through fire: It is written: “For Mount Sinai was entirely covered in smoke.” -Exodus 19
Where do we see that it is through water: It is written: “…the clouds dripped water, the mountains quaked – before the Lord Him of Sinai…” -Judges 5:5
Where do we see it is through the desert : It is written: “And the Lord said to Moshe in the Sinai desert saying…”
The Shabbat before Shavot, Matan Torah, we must go through the Midbar, a metaphor indicating our self-effacement and modesty. The Midbar, is a call to leadership and being an example of a G-d fearing Israel. Midbar also contains the word “dibur,” speech. We must remember to speak humbly and use our words carefully. Each “milah” (word) should be turned into a yahalom, a precious diamond, by thinking before we speak! Then the final result, using the same root letters of Midbar: will be our achievement of dvir, kedusha.
Just as these are free to whoever needs them, so it is with the words of Torah. As it is written: “All those who are thirsty come to the water.” -Isaiah 55 : 1
…….and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.- John 7 : 37
Another opinion states: Why was the Torah given in the desert? It is to teach us that anyone who does not make one’s self as empty and un-entitled as the desert cannot acquire wisdom or Torah – and that is why the Torah was given at Sinai.
Stand up and Be Counted
Bamidbar begins a new book of the Torah. At this point a year has passed since the Israelites found freedom. Now G-d asks Moses to take a census of the people.
On the first day of the second month, in the second year following the exodus from the land of Egypt, the Lord spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the Tent of Meeting saying, “Take a census of the whole Israelite community by the clans of its ancestral houses, listing the names, every male, head by head. You and Aaron shall record them by their groups from the age of twenty years up, all those in Israel who are able to bear arms. Associated with you shall be a man from each tribe, each one the head of his ancestral house.” -Numbers 1:1-1:4
Midrash: The Israel people were counted on ten occasions:
- Once when they went down to Egypt
- Once when they departed from Egypt
- Once in [the beginning of the] Book of Numbers
- Once in connection with the Spies
- Once in the days of Yehoshua, when the Land was divided
- Twice in the days of Sha’ul
- Once in the days of David
- Once in the days of Ezra and
- Once in the future to come.
- He Counts Them All the Time” (Rashi, v. 1)
Peace and Unity – Commonwealth of Israel
G-d then said: “The whole Torah represents ‘peace,’ thus I shall give it to that nation which loves peace.”
Messiah came, as he himself said, for “the lost sheep of the house of Israel,” and his sacrifice, just as the Passover lamb, was for the entire nation of Israel.
It was not merely an individual salvation plan. The redemption was not solely for an elect few of the Israelite nation, but for the entire nation.
The peace and unity which were the preparation and precondition for the Giving of the Torah are also the preparation for the Messianic redemption.
G-d speedily sending us Mashiach to redeem us, thus fulfilling: “In this place (the Land of Israel) which is now desolate… the sheep (the people of Israel) will pass before the one who will count them (Mashiach), says G-d!” -Jeremiah 33:12-13
We all share the same faith in the merit of Messiah and are fellow heirs, citizens in the Israel of G-d—the Kingdom of G-d. We have all been brought near by the same atonement and given the same Torah.
In the book of Romans 9- 11 chapter, Rabbi Shaul discusses G-d’s great plan for Israel and the nations. Concerning national Israel and the calling of the gentiles as partakers of the covenants, Rabbi Shaul quotes from Hosea 2: 23 and 1: 10 .
“Wherefore remember [you Gentiles], that you, being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time you were without Messiah, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise having no hope, and without G-d in the world.” –Ephesians 2:11–12
They had now become “the Israel of G-d” -Galatians 6:16
And YHWH spoke to Moses saying, Speak unto the children of Israel: When a man or woman shall commit any sin that men commit, to commit a trespass against the Lord…– Numbers 5:5-6
Here is how Midrash Rabba interpreted the verse:
Midrash Rabba 8:2 : A man or a woman, etc. This bears on the scriptural text, “YHWH loves the righteous; YHWH preserves the stranger” (Psalms 146:8-9)…. The Holy One Blessed Be G-d greatly loves converts (can also be translated as “strangers”). To what may this be compared? To a king who had a flock which used to go out to the field and come in at evening. So it was each day. Once a stag came in with the flock. He associated with the goats and grazed with them. When the flock came in to the fold he came in with them; when they went out to graze he went out with them. The king was told: “A certain stag has joined the flock and is grazing with them every day. He goes out with them and comes in with them.” The king felt affection for him. When he went out into the field the king gave orders: “Let him have good pasture, such as he likes; no man shall beat him; be careful with him!” When he came in with the flock also the king would tell them, “Give him to drink”; and he loved him very much. The servants said to him: ‘Sovereign! You possess so many he-goats, you possess so many lambs, you possess so many kids, and you never caution us about them; yet you give us instructions every day about this stag!” Said the king to them: “The flock have no choice; whether they want or not, it is their nature to graze in the field all day and to come in at evening to sleep in the fold. The stags, however, sleep in the wilderness. It is not in their nature to come into places inhabited by man. Shall we then not account it as a merit to this one which has left behind the whole of the broad, vast wilderness, the abode of all the beasts, and has come to stay in the courtyard?” In like manner, ought we not to be grateful to the convert who has left behind him his family and his father’s house, ayee, has left behind his people and all the other peoples of the world, and has chosen to come to us? Accordingly, G-d has provided him with special protection, for G-d exhorted Israel that they shall be very careful in relation to the converts so as not to do them harm: and so indeed it says, “Love ye therefore the convert” (Deut. 10:19). And “You shall not oppress a stranger” (Exodus 23:9 and Lev. 19:33).
BAMIDBAR – IN THE WILDERNESS – By Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum
It was fitting that the Giving of the Torah took place in no-man’s-land amidst the stark desolation of the Wilderness. Here no temporal king could claim that he played host to the event, thereby meriting a special share in the glory. The Children of Israel were chosen to receive the Torah not because they were the most glorious, but because their hearts had been broken through exile and slavery. For the only way to receive the Torah is through humility, symbolized in the lowly Mount Sinai.
Having been appointed as guardians of the Torah, the task of the Children of Israel was to bring it up from Sinai to the Promised Land, from which they were to shine its light to all the inhabitants of the world. Genesis traces the roots of the Torah and of the souls of Israel who were to be its bearers, and Genesis is thus the “head” of the Torah. Exodus is the “hands”, describing how G-d redeemed the Children of Israel from slavery in Egypt “with a mighty arm” and made them into a unique nation through the gift of the Torah and the presence of His Sanctuary in their midst as the focus of their national life. Leviticus is the “heart” of the Torah, setting forth its main laws in all areas of life.
Now we come to the Book of Numbers — the “legs” — tracing the journeying of the Children of Israel on foot through the wilderness to the borders of the Promised Land, with all the accompanying trials and tribulations. Our parshah of BAMIDBAR begins in the Wilderness of Sinai, almost a year after the Children of Israel’s arrival to receive the Torah. By now they had been taught all the main laws of the Torah, and the Sanctuary was in place and fully functional. The next stage was to take to the road and carry the Ark of the Covenant — encompassing the entire Torah — up to the land. The commandment to Moses with which BAMIDBAR opens, to take a census of the people and organize them by tribes, was a preparation for their departure from Sinai, which is narrated in BEHA’ALOSCHA (Numbers ch. 10).
As described in our parshah, the twelve tribes of Israel were to be encamped around the Sanctuary in four groups of three tribes each. When they traveled through the wilderness, they were to travel in the same formation. The positions of the twelve tribes were the same as those of Jacob’s twelve sons when they carried his funeral bier from Egypt to the Cave of Machpelah.
Ramban (Nachmanides) opens his commentary on BAMIDBAR by pointing out that the way the people encamped around the Sanctuary was directly parallel to the way they encamped around Sinai at the time of the Giving of the Torah. We find in next week’s parshah that they were commanded to send those who were ritually impure away from the Sanctuary and out of the camp (Numbers 5:1ff). This parallels the command to Moses to put boundaries around Mount Sinai at the time of the Giving of the Torah — for “the stranger who draws near will die” (1:53; 18:7). At the end of our present parshah, we learn that even the Levites, whose task was to carry the Sanctuary parts during their travels, were forbidden to see the Sanctuary in its “moment of shame” while being dismantled (Numbers 4:20). Correspondingly, the Israelites at Sinai were forbidden to break through and go up the Mountain in order to feast their eyes.
These and other parallels point to the profound conceptual link between the Sanctuary (and Temple) and the Giving of the Torah. The Giving of the Torah at Sinai was a one-time event: the Torah “came down” from heaven to earth, providing man with a ladder of ascent to G-d. Having come into this world, the Torah had to remain the central focus of our attention forever afterwards. The Ark of the Covenant with the Tablets of Stone and Moses’ Torah scroll thus had pride of place in the Holy of Holies at the very center of the Sanctuary, with the Twelve Tribes encamped around it. [Similarly, in the Synagogue, it is customary to read the Torah from a desk in the middle of the Synagogue among all the people.]
From the Wilderness of Sinai, the Children of Israel were to carry the Ark of the Covenant up to the center-point or “navel” of the earth in Jerusalem, “for the Torah will go out from Zion and the word of HaShem from Jerusalem”. This was the spot where Jacob dreamed of a ladder joining earth back to heaven. The Hebrew word for ladder is SuLaM, which has the same numerical value as SINaI (=130).
THE TRIBES OF ISRAEL
The Zohar states that the form of the Sanctuary corresponds to the form of the work of creation. Thus the various different areas making up the Temple courtyards and buildings correspond to the different “worlds” discussed in the Kabbalah (as explained in “Miskeney Elyon” by Rabbi Moshe Luzzatto, RAMCHAL, translated in “Secrets of the Future Temple”).
The arrangement of the twelve tribes in four camps around the Sanctuary corresponds to the “four camps of the Divine Presence” and the “four camps of angels” that channel the flow of divine sustenance into the world. These are aspects of the MERKAVAH (“chariot”) seen by the prophets, representing the system of providence through which G-d governs the world. The four camps correspond to the four roots of creation (Kindness, Judgment, Compassion and their manifestation in reality: “Kingship”) and to the four elements (Water, Fire, Air and Earth, which is the “vessel” of the first three). The various different names and numbers making up the account in our parshah of the census of the Twelve Tribes consist of codes and ciphers that are bound up with the root forces in the spiritual and physical worlds.
The difficulty which many find in relating to sections dealing with the different tribes and their names and numbers is compounded by the fact that today the majority have become disconnected and even alienated from their own “tribal” roots after thousands of years of exile and wandering. Originally the consciousness of tribal affiliation among the Children of Israel was very powerful, as is evident from the end of parshas EMOR, where the episode of blasphemy was caused when members of the tribe of Dan refused to allow the son of the Egyptian to camp with them because his lineage was flawed.
Today, however, few Jews even know which tribe they come from, although the majority (besides Kohanim and Levites) assume that they are from the tribes of Judah or Benjamin, which were the only two that did not disappear when the Ten Tribes went into exile prior to the destruction of the First Temple. (Some believe that the Sefardic communities of Spain and Morocco came from the tribe of Judah while the Ashkenazi communities of Germany and Poland came from the tribe of Benjamin. This is mentioned by Rabbi David Kimchi — RADAK — in his commentary on the Bible.)
Besides being unaware of their own tribal affiliation, many Jews are also quite unaware that many people throughout the world whom they consider to be gentiles actually believe themselves to be the Children of Israel. Moreover, in many cases they believe they DO know to which tribe they belong. This includes enormous numbers of people in the Indian sub-continent, Africa and South America etc. as well as the Mormon Church, which considers America today to be the home of the Ten Tribes, and prominent members of British and European royalty and aristocracy, who believe they are the true Israelites (without explaining why they do not observe the Sabbath or other Torah laws).
Just to complete the mix-up, if you were to ask most Jews today to enumerate the different components that make up the nation, the answer would not be the twelve tribes but rather: ultra-orthodox, orthodox, traditional, conservative, reform, secular-right, secular-left, etc. etc.
Our fragmentation and disarray in today’s sophisticated “civilized” world is in sorry contrast with the order of the camp in the wilds of the desert that saw our birth! Perhaps we need to develop a new way of looking at the different types that make up the people of Israel in terms of the order set forth in BAMIDBAR: how near are they to the Sanctuary-Temple idea or how far away?
Shabbat Shalom!!! Chag Shavuot Same’ach!!! -Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Greenbaum
Haftarat Bamidbar – In the wilderness – (Hosea 2:1-22)
Our Torah portion opens with an accounting of the names of the men of Israel. Our haftarah is also mentions an accounting for Israel. the haftarah is found in Hosea 1:10-2:20.
In the time of the redemption the number of the children of Israel will be like the sand of the seashore., which can neither be measured nor counted. Instead of being called, “You are not My people,” they will be called “children of the living G-d.” The children of Yehudah and the children of Yisra’el will be gathered together, and they will appoint for themselves Mashiach [Messiah] as their one head. They will go up from the land of their exile to their own Land, for great is the day when G-d’s scattered people will be gathered. -Hosea 2:1-2
from the haftarah:
In the Parasha, Moses takes a census, and in the Haftarah, G-d promises that “the Israelites will be like the sand on the seashore, which cannot be measured or counted” – Hosea 1:10, and Hosea 2:1
Most High also likens the numbers of Israel to the stars:
“He took him outside and said, ‘Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.’ Then he said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be.’” – Genesis 15:5
I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and justice, In lovingkindness and mercy; I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness, And You shall know HaShem. -Hosea 2:21-22
“Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will respond as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt. ‘In that day,’ declares the Lord, ‘you will call me ‘my husband.’” – Hosea 2:14–16
Speedily send us Your righteous Messiah of the House of David to redeem those who long for Your salvation.
Reflect Your glorious majesty upon all the inhabitants of the Earth and let everyone who breathes declare: HaShem, G-d of Israel, is King and His dominion rules over all. Amen.
We will see that the children of Israel return to Most High and Torah of Mashiach, And will hug in the Holy Land, and by obeying and listening the “VOICE of Most Ancient Holy One of Israel”, will bring offerings in a righteous way on the holy mountain and also bring the Ark of the covenant with pure heart in the right place ( i.e In Har HaBayit, on the foundation Stone) .
We will Welcome the son of David on Mount Zion, Jerusalem.
[ Ha Khadosh Baruch Hu – Baruch HaBa B’Shem Adonai ] – Gaddi, President, BetYisrael International.
Gaddi – President