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May 16  2018                                                          Updated

BaBAMIDBAR                                                               בס”ד


The book of “Bamidbar” (Numbers- It litterally translates to In the Desert) has ten “parashot” (portions of weekly readings) in it. Maybe these coincide with the Ten Commandments.This Parasha is usually read on the Shabbat before Shavuot. As the “Midbar” (Desert)  prepares us for the giving/receiving of the Torah. The numerical value of the word  “במדבר”  (in the Desert) is 248, alluding to the number of positive commandments and bones in a man’s body. It is interesting to point out that the number 248 represents the same numerical value of the words  בצלם אלהים  (in the image God) and בדרך הטוב (in the righteous path). This comes to teach us that when we walk in God’s way . in His image, and fulfill the commandments , even the most difficult places like a  desert will not be so difficult for one who follows Gods will. 

The Torah was given in the desert to show Yisrael  and the world for generations to come the ultimate protection one can have in very harsh conditions, by accepting the Torah and fulfilling it. Let’s try to imagine taking millions of people through one of the most dangerous Deserts in the world. Without water, food, and with all the dangerous elements such as animals, snakes, heat, etc. Yisrael were provided for with water, food, shelter, and protection from all the dangerous elements and at the end of this journey came out just as they went in. Only by the Divine miracles of God, the clouds of glory and the merits of the Torah. Were Yisrael  able to survive and even thrive in the desert. Yisrael witnessed so many miracles while they traveled in the Sinai Desert, their daily lives were all above nature and defied logic.

   Our universe is not a solid immutable reality but It exists in a fluid ever changing state of continuous creation. Most people are not aware of this now but for the forty years after the Hebrews left Egypt and lived in the desert they survived through continuous miracles. Manna fell from heaven , Clouds of Glory that protected them.Their survival was clearly dependent on God it was impossible to sustain the illusion that it was natural. Such living is the opposite of todays illusion. To some extent this fluid ever changing state of continuous creation is still in play today, but it and its “applications” are not revealed. This awareness is deeply implanted within the soul. According to the dominance of one’s obsession with the physical world it is concealed from consciousness.

The secret of the “Mishkan” (Tabernacle) is that the glory of God that appeared upon Mount Sinai should be hidden within it.  The concept is that God’s revelation to us at mount Sinai  continued in the context of the “Mishkan” ! The “Mishkan”  endured various temporary conditions such  as in Shilo and Givon until it reached Jerusalem. The moment it arrived there and the Beit HaMikdash (Holy Temple) was built, the Temple Mount and  Jerusalem were endowed with ultimate sanctity.

  In the beginning of this week’s reading, God commands Moses:  “Take a census of the whole Israelite community by the clans of its ancestral homes, listing the names [lit.according to the number of names], every male, head by head” (Num. 1:2).  Let us examine this unusual expression:  “According to the number of names.”  This expression seems like an oxymoron, for it concerns two opposites.  A person’s name expresses the hidden inner essence.  A person’s name is individual, belongs only to him or her, and attests his or her essence; but number expresses quantity, size.  A soldier in an army receives a number, his individual personality being erased as it were, turning him into a cog in the wheel. The sages say in midrash that the God had the Hebrew people counted so many times because they are so dear to him. They were counted when leaving Egypt, after killing those who worshiped to golden calf, and on the first of Iyar after the “Miscon” was set up. Its written in the Torah : “The Israelites shall encamp troop by troop, each man with his division and each under his flag” (Num. 1:52). The place of the individual within the generality finds expressions in a flag,  Consider, how by a flag we identify many individuals who all belong to a single group. We know  they have common objectives, they all work together to promote the groups goals ?  To  explain this we use flags.  Similarly, a flag is used as a symbol, identifying a country. This basic level of flags exists in every nation, society, and public group.   The flag serves as a national logo.  The nation of Israel is not merely a collection of individuals comprising a whole, Rather Israel is a whole that finds expression in its individuals. The role of the individuals is to elevate, move forward and propel the nation upwards in Holiness.  It is a wonderful thing that we who are called the nation of Israel, are on earth to make it into a light unto the nations. To carry the teachings of the Torah forth from Zion and the word of God from Jerusalem.  The flags reminds us of the great responsibilities that have been placed by God on the Jewish people. We are supposed to identify with these ideals our flags remind us of and live by the principles they stand for and to promote the ideas  the flags of the Tribal encampment in the dessert  express. This is much like it is above as we see in the Midrash. When the Holy One, blessed be He, was revealed on Mount Sinai, two hundred and twenty thousand angels came down with him, as it is said (Ps. 68:18), “God’s chariots are myriads upon myriads, thousands upon thousands.”  And they were all arrayed by flags as it is said (Song 5:10), “flags among ten thousand.”  in Hebrew the word for flag here is “dagul”, like by the encampment in the desert. Each of the 12 tribes of Israel has its own flag as by the union of pluralities our out people we are called a nation. The Midrash Tanchumah concludes:   “The Holy One, blessed be He, said to them ” By the merits of these banners, I shall redeem you.”  The aspiration of each and every Jew to serve as a living banner for the Holy One, blessed be He, in this world will, God willing, hasten Redemption. The camp of the Israelites was not a melting pot, but rather the individual tribes preserved their own identity, each under its own flag and this is one the message the flags carried. Know, these counting were specific to the Jews and did not include the “Erev-Rav” (the mixed multitude) who joined Yisrael at they left Egypt. This part of the Torah some call the book of Numbers has some very interesting numbers. Moses, along with Aharon counted Yisrael’s males between the ages of 20 and 60 years old, reached the total amount of 603,550. It is interesting that  the counting made  right before the completion of the Tabernacle, in the book of Exodus (38:26) amounts to a total count of male between the ages of 20 and 60 years old is the same number , “six hundred thousand and three thousand and five hundred and fifty men. This is also the exact amount of silver collected from Bnei-Yisrael when they gave half a shekel represents the same number; the total counting of the males between the ages of 20 and 60 years old – 603,550 ?


  The Hebrew people encamped with the God in their midst in the desert. They were not  occupied with pleasures of this world. There focus was always the God in their midst. In a certain sense the Hebrew people always need to see their life being encamped with the God in their midst at all times.

This weeks Haftorah (The portions of the Bible God told the Prophets to have read in public on each Sabbath) begins “ And the children of Yisrael shall be as the sand of the sea that can not be counted or measured “ Yet right in the beginning of our parsha it says “Take the heads of all the congregation of all the children of Isreal by their families houses, numbering of them, names of all the males by their skulls”. 

  Now it is known that a blessing does not rest on that which is counted. As the haftorah says “That can not be counted or measured “. At other times all Yisrael were counted by the 1/2 shekel coin each year donated to the Holy Temple in Adar. By doing this the people were never counted, only coins. But what about this counting of the people ?. We learn from the Shalah Hakodesh in Sni Luchot HaBrit that blessings don’t rest on that which is counted when its measurement is intrinsically physical, being part of the material world. As such numbering by its nature creates limitation, but numbering in context of the spiritual worlds does not impose limitation. Numbers in the context of the spiritual worlds does not imply limitation as each such number advances towards great achievements. So here we don’t have counting as with physical things, but what we have here is as it states counting of “ gilgulatom “ (their skulls). In the Zohar it talks about the eminations from the “ gilgulata “ (skull) of parzufim (structures that emanate and reveal Divine energy). In this context “ gilgulata “ refers specifically to the aspect of the parzuf called Arich Anpin (long face), this parzuf is the place of emination and revelation of the will of God. Concerning the skull of parzuf Atik Yamin (place where delight is eminated from) are great secrets which are seldom heard. Here we can find infinite wisdom. It was spoken concerning the skull by Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochi in the last moments of his life in a body on this earth at the idra Zuta. The final gathering of Rabbi Shimon and his companions of the Zohar. This we celebrated a short time ago and each year it is celebrated where he is buried in Maron with at least 400,000 people. It is the largest celebration Here in Aretz ha Kodesh. There shall be left in the land of Israel in the Time of the Mashiach 7000 people. These are the secret of מ”ב to their skulls. This is the secret of מ”ב from which the world was created. And in the souls of these Sadeekem it is ruled.

From Rebbe Shimon we learn that the skull is full of dew, it contains a membrane that surrounds the brain and a atmosphere. To it is a beard of pure wool containing 13 attributes of Divine mercy. A forehead that functions as supernal will, a eye of providence that is eternally open. Nostrils of His nose to breath life force. The flow of chuchmah (Divine wisdom) is called scent. All wisdom of the world is from the nose of Arich. The beard is made of whats called dikna (conduits). When the dikna of parzuf Atik (place where delight is eminated from) are clear it illuminates the Dikna of parzuf Zier Anpin (Source of emination of the emotional soul) drawing down 13 passages of supernal oil (Divine wisdom). Then in the dikna of Z’a we find there are 22 tikuney dikna (conduits of corrective eminations). It is from there we draw out the 22 letters of the Holy tongue, 22 letters of the Torah and all creation.

So the counting here is more like a recognition of each Isrealite being set aside for his supernal purpose from the powers manifest in the “ gilgulata “ (skull). As the Shalah said concerning spiritual counting “Each such number advances towards great achievements”. Thus here Moshe is setting aside each individual in Yisrael by their “ gilgulata “ making them sanctified, separated and distinguishing each according to their distinct part in the Holy nation. The Torah stresses that every person was counted by  their “ gilgulata “ (by his skull).  Meaning, as an individual. In other words, the unique characteristics exclusive to each individual are not to be suppressed or destroyed, but protected and  integrated into the national whole.  As Holiness infers separation. So here Moshe designates each individual of Yisreal distinguished at the “ gilgulata“ level (his powers, purpose). As

each person in Yisrael has their own singular characteristics and qualities. Thus we must help each individual fulfill there potential and only then as a people we will be complete. The lack of potential by any single individual in Yisrael can impact the functioning of the entire nation, God forbid hindering  the completion of their mission. Thus, any threat to individuals is seen as a threat to the whole nation. Individuality and national Solidarity are  necessary and actionable imperatives. Solidarity and unity among the nation of Israel is from a Conventional fellowship we entered at Sinai. It is this that unites all Jews. This is not a voluntary undertaking.  once the Israelites accepted the Torah, they were and are bound together by bonds of legal — not emotional — solidarity of Torah law. Even more than this we know, “all Israel are guarantors one for the other.” We are responsible for the behavior of one another. Thus as much as the precious nature of the individual in Yisrael is essential and must be preserved, developed and protected. The collective aspect of Yisrael  being “all Israel are guarantors one for the other.”  is also unique among our nation. This involuntary status imposing the lifestyle of Torah law on the nation of Yisrael marks the distinction between the correct Jewish worldview and that of the rest of the world. As much as the Torah teaches us here how essential our true individual character is important to our “tikun” (fixing of our soul and the world). Do not be mistaken and think as people do today. I am by no means advocating a “I-society”. A society where its individuals main concern is ONLY for  want they want and attitudes like I’m too busy to raise a family, I have to a make a name for my honor  before I die. Increasing individualism, at the expense of communal well-being appears in societies that are in decline.

May it be from this act of Moshe designating each individual of Yisreal distinguished at the “ gilgulata“ level (his powers, purpose) there should soon manifest the complete energy of redemption. With the revelation of our righteous Mashiach quickly in our days.

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