B’midbar “in the wilderness”B’midbar 1:1-4:20Haftorah: Hosea 2:1-221 Cor.12:12-20In the Sinai Desert, GOD says to conduct a census of the twelve tribes ofIsrael. Moses counts 603,550 men of draft-able age (20 to 60 years); the tribe of Levi, numbering 22,300 males age one month and older, is counted separately. The Levites are to serve in the Sanctuary, replacing the firstborn, whose number they approximated, who were disqualified when they participated in the worshipping of the Golden Calf. The firstborn who lacked a Levite to replace them had to pay a five-shekel "ransom" to redeem them.When the people broke camp, the three Levite clans dismantled and transported the Sanctuary, and reassembled it at the center of the next encampment. They then erected their own tents around it: the Kohathites, who carried the Sanctuary's vessels (the ark, menorah, etc.) in their specially designed coverings on their shoulders, camped to its south; the Gershonites, in charge of its tapestries and roof coverings, to its west; and the families of Merrari, who transported its wall panels and pillars, to its north. Before the Sanctuary's entranceway to its east were the tents of Moses, Aaron and Aaron's sons.Beyond the Levite circle, the twelve tribes camped in four groups of three tribes each. To the east were Judah (pop. 74,600), Issachar (54,400)and Zebulon (57,400); to the south, Reuben (46,500), Simeon (59,300) and Gad (45,650); to the west, Ephraim (40,500), Manasseh (32,200) and Benjamin (35,400); and to the north, Dan (62,700), Asher (41,500) and Naphtali (53,400). This formation was kept also while traveling. Each tribe had its own nassi (prince or leader), and its own flag with its tribal color and emblem.

This is the beginning of the fourth book of the Torah, Numbers.  It is given this name because of the census recorded in the opening chapter.  It is also known as the book of the Census, or Sefer Ha-P’Kudim.  The book describes a people wandering through spiritual, as well as geographical, wilderness. Generally speaking, the book describes GOD’sguidance of Israel through the desert from Sinai to the border of Canaan.This takes place in the period from the second month of the second year after the Exodus to the tenth month of the fortieth year. GOD had previously prepared His people to receive the covenant.  Now they were going through their forty-year journey to be ready to possess the Promised Land.  On the way to their inheritance, they experienced the watchfulness and gracious deliverance of GOD. Now they were to learn to trust entirely in the GOD of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and to striveafter His kingdom alone.  Deuteronomy 6:4; Matthew 6:33).We are now beginning a new journey into the book of Numbers.  There, thru the journey that the children of Israel experienced, may we learn by history. by example, by instruction of GOD’s Torah/Law how we should walk with Him in order not to fall away from GOD, (2 Tim.3:16; CC.1 Cor.10:6).Lets us seek the Kingdom of GOD first and all His righteousness and thus avoid going thru lengthy desert experiences as we are about to read in Sefer B’midbar.

Shavua T Rabbi Z

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