Dvar Torah: Bamidbar
This week’s parsha, parshat Bamidbar, begins with God commanding Moshe to take a census of the Jewish people. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks asks the following question: Why is it that god counts the Jewish people? After all, counting the nation as a while seemingly devalues the significance of each and every individual, which is an extremely important principle in Judaism. Why, then, would Hashem take a census in the first place?
Rabbi Sacks answers this question with a verse. When god commands Moshe to count the Jewish people, he tells him to do this while “lift[ing] up the heads” of the Jewish people when counting them (Bamidbar 1:2). The reason for lifting up their heads, explains Rabbi Sacks, is to give them the confidence that each and every one of them can contribute to society as a whole through their own unique gifts and talents. In other words, god actually does still place an importance on each individual member of the Jewish people when counting them. Each person has their own way of contributing to the whole of Am Yisrael. Like our ancestors in the wilderness when they were counted, we too must remember that everyone of us counts and has what to offer the Jewish people and the world around us.
B'ezrat Hashem, may we keep this lesson in mind during the upcoming holiday of Shavuot, where we celebrate the giving of the Torah, which we did, according to Rashi, as “one man with one heart,” a united Jewish Nation.