This week we have the privilege of beginning the fourth Book of the Torah, Bamidbar. Immediately the Torah records the command to Moshe to count the heads of the entire “assembly of the Jewish People.” What was the purpose of this count? Rashi points out:
מתוך חיבתן לפניו מונה אותן כל שעה: כשיצאו ממצרים מנאן…כשבא להשרות שכינתו לתוכן מנאן. באחד בניסן הוקם המשכן, ובאחד באייר מנאן.
Because they were dear to Him, He counts them every now and then: when they went forth from Egypt He counted … when He was about to make His Shechinah dwell amongst He again took their census; for on the first day of Nisan the Tabernacle was erected (Exodus 40:2) and shortly afterward, on the first day of Iyar, He counted them.
Both cases cited by Rashi exhibited the unity of the Jewish people. When harmony exists, we merit being measured by Hashem. When this occurs, though our numbers may be in the millions, the sum total is ONE! When we stood at Har Sinai awaiting our rendezvous with Hashem our unity was so palpable, Rashi says the assemblage of Jews was like one person with one heart.
Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz writes: “Losing the feeling that we are one, that we are one body, is graver than any controversy, even more than a civil war.” Yes, there are many things that are dividing Jews today. However, let us never forget we are one family, with a destiny. As we read the Parsha let us double our efforts towards the goal of Jewish unity.
To all: good Shabbas!
Rabbi Evan Shore