Bamidbar 2021 Rabbi Moshe Goodman, Kollel Ohr Shlomo, Hebron בס"ד
Discover the Holy Presence in Our Holy Land
The Souls of Israel – Quantity is Quality
The book of Bamidbar we begin this week begins and ends with a census of the People, which is such a prominent theme of this book that our Sages and others called this book “the book of Numbers.” What is the significance of all these numbers, and why are they used so extensively with regard to the army, or legions, of Israel? In order to answer this question, let us take a deeper glance at the Hebrew word for army used here, tzava or tzevaot. If we look for additional contexts of this word, we find that one of the names of God is Zevaot. Indeed, our Sages teach us that Chana, the first to use this Name, turned to God as Tzevaot – “the Hashem of Hosts,” pleading before God that if You, God, have created all hosts of people, You surely have the power to give me a son (Berachot 31b). The Torah declares in Devarim (23:15) that the Holy Presence indeed resides in the encampment of the army of Israel. Just as on a physical level, the power of an army is recognized based on the number of its soldiers, weaponry, etc., so too on a spiritual level, the spiritual power of our People is magnified in accordance with the magnitude of our People’s population (e.g., the statement in Berachot 8a that “God does not disregard the prayers of the masses”), especially in the Holy Land, the threshold of the Holy Presence. Therefore, each number in this parsha represents not only spiritual power but also the quality of that spiritual power. These matters are important to consider in regard to bearing children, for each time parents bear a child, they are essentially partners in greatening the Divine spiritual power of the People of Israel as a collective.
Aside from this week’s parsha’s connection to childbirth and Divine demographics, this week also the Shelah’s famous prayer recited by parents on behalf of their children, is said by many specifically on Erev Rosh Chodesh Sivan (as recommended by the Shelah himself), the month the Torah was given. Interestingly, this very same day is also “Hebron Day,” the day when Hebron, “city of the fathers and children,” was liberated in the Six-Day War (the day after Yom Yerushalayim, Jerusalem Day). In appreciation to HaShem and in joy for this liberation, the custom in Hebron is not to recite tachanun on this day.
In addition, Hebron is also the “City of Torah,” as the Zohar points out: “Hebron – this is Torah, for one who occupies oneself with it is considered a “chaver (member of the class of Torah scholars).” This idea fits beautifully with the juxtaposition of “Hebron Day to Rosh Chodesh Sivan, the month when we received the Torah on Shavuot. Indeed, the Shelah’s prayer for parents on behalf of their children also highlights the wish of parents that their children study the Torah and observe its commandments. Moreover, the Midrash relates that before Hashem gave the Torah to the Jewish people, he requested guarantors who would ensure that the people would indeed study Torah and fulfill the mitzvot. The People offered a number of guarantors, but Hashem refused them all. Finally, the Jewish people offered their own children. They promised that the children would study Torah and safeguard it for generations. To this, Hashem agreed. The word for guarantor, “arev,” means to attach or connect oneself to an agreement. Indeed, Hebron’s name itself also means “to connect” (lechaber), and it is through Hebron that we, the children, “connect” to our Patriarchs as their “guarantors” and their continuation for the future.
Real Stories from the Holy Land:
“For a number of years, I had been trying to buy a spacious apartment for my growing family, as our small rented apartment had become especially crowded and cramped. One day, when things became especially difficult, I traveled to the Kotel to plead before Hashem about my situation, praying and crying for an hour and a half. Suddenly, I felt a tap on my shoulder, which caused me to turn. The person inquired what I was praying/crying about. I then “unburdened” my troubles before him, telling him everything. To this, the man answered me, saying: “What you have, I don’t have, and what I have you don’t have.” He explained that the doctors told him that he only had a few days to live. He also explained that he was blessed with much wealth but had no family to give it to. “Please,” he pleaded, “take my money and buy yourself an apartment so that I will have done something worthwhile in my life, and don’t turn me away!” And so it was…that day, we went to the real estate agent, and I purchased a five-room apartment in Jerusalem.” (Y.F.)