A Count of Love by Yosef Wildes


The first Rashi of this week’s Parashah explains that Hashem counted Bnei Yisrael multiple times because He loves them. The Pasuk writes, “VaYedabeir Hashem El Moshe BeMidbar Sinai BeOhel Mo’eid, BeEchad LaChodesh HaSheini BaShanah HaSheinit LeTzeitam MeiEretz Mitzrayim Leimor: Se’u Et Rosh Kol Adat Bnei Yisrael,” “And Hashem spoke to Moshe in the desert of Sinai, in the tent of meeting, on the first day of the second month, in the second year after coming out of Egypt, saying: Take a sum of all the congregation of Israel” (BeMidbar 1:1-2). We can relate this to a person who loves his money and repeatedly counts it. Rashi states that Hashem counted Bnei Yisrael at three different times in three different places. He counted them when they left Mitzrayim, when they made the Eigel HaZahav, and when they built the Mishkan. What do these situations have to do with each other? In other words, what is the common denominator between these three different times in Jewish history that Bnei Yisrael went through and how do they relate to conducting a census?

To answer this question, we must explore each of these countings. When the Jews were leaving Mitzrayim, they faced an uncertain future. Even though they were free, they didn’t know their fate. During the sin of the Eigel HaZahav, Hashem was displeased to such an extent that perhaps Bnei Yisrael felt that He was never going to forgive them. Before the final counting, when Hashem was going to rest his Shechinah on the Mishkan, the Jews were afraid that they wouldn’t be able to cope with the close presence of Hashem.

With this information, we can understand why Hashem counted Bnei Yisrael at those moments. These were moments during which Bnei Yisrael were vulnerable and insecure. They needed Hashem’s support in these situations, because they may have felt uncertain as to what the future would bring. Hashem therefore counted Bnei Yisrael to assure them that He will never abandon them, no matter what. Hashem demonstrated his love at the moments that it was needed the most.

We should follow this model in our own lives. Often people feel insecure, and this could be alleviated by expressing our appreciation for them. By approaching a friend to talk or extending an invitation to visit one’s home, he or she will feel better about themselves knowing that somebody cares. If we all follow this example, soon all of Am Yisrael will be closer and better off.

Details Count by Dr. Joel Berman

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