Every Mitzvah Counts by Chaim Metzger


Parashat Naso begins, “Naso Et Rosh Bnei Gershon Gam Heim,” “Take a census of the sons of Gershon, as well” (BeMidbar 4:21).  “Gam Heim,” “as well,” seems superfluous and misleading since the phrase could be taken to mean that in addition to Bnei Kehat, even Bnei Gershon had to be between ages thirty to fifty, the ages of a man’s peak of his strength (according to Rashi) in order to be counted.  This, however, would be counterintuitive because Bnei Kehat’s job was merely to carry the Keilim, which were buoyant because of their Kedushah; one would think that a job like this would certainly not require men in their prime strength years to be completed.  Therefore, this phrase “Gam Heim” really should have appeared when the Torah was recording the counting of Bnei Kehat in order to refute what one might have thought and firmly establish the fact that even Bnei Kehat must be between thirty to fifty to be counted.  Why, then, would the Torah put this phrase in the context of Bnei Gershon instead?

A solution to this mystery may come from the ideal way that we should all approach each and every Mitzvah.  One must always try with all one’s strength to perform Mitzvot, for the effort in and of itself is a Mitzvah.  Although one fulfills the Mitzvah even if it comes easily, one’s reward is all the greater if great effort is put into the process.  By allowing only those who have reached the peak of their strength to carry the miraculously light Keilim, Hashem teaches us that we must try with all our might when performing Mitzvot.

Another possible answer is gleaned from people’s approach to goals they deem unattainable.  When people do not believe they will accomplish anything by learning Gemara or Halachah, their mindset dictates the outcome and they really end up with truly nothing.  Bnei Gershon may have reasoned this way when they saw that Bnei Kehat, who held the important job of carrying all the holy Keilim, were counted solely from ages which produced the best specimen of workers, namely from thirty to fifty.  Their own task, they may have argued, which did not contain any of the importance of carrying the holiest Keilim, was much less important.  If Bnei Gershon had continued to think this way, their attitude would have influenced their performance of their Mitzvah and they would thus not have been able to joyfully and wholeheartedly perform their task.  Hence, the Torah states in conjunction with Bnei Gershon “Gam Heim” as if to tell them that they too have an important job which can be fulfilled only by the cream of the crop, men from age thirty to fifty. 

Though this lesson was taught to Bnei Kehat in regard to executing their role as Leviim, this lesson is applicable to all of Torah.  Although it may seem that some Mitzvot are more important than others, one must follow all Mitzvot, as they are all part of the whole that makes up the six hundred and thirteen Mitzvot; without the seemingly insignificant Mitzvot, the entire system would be lacking.

-Adapted from “Darash Moshe”

Two Aspects of Nezirut by Leead Staller

Turning It Around at Har Sinai by Shai Berman