Bamidbar (In the desert)

Numbers 1:1 And יהוה spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the Tabernacle of the Congregation, on the first day of the second month, in the second year after they had come out of the land of Egypt, saying, 2 Take you את־ the sum of all the congregation of the Children of Israel, after their families, by the house אבֹתם of their fathers, with the number of their names, every male by their polls. C-MATS

Question: What does “את the sum” mean? The Hebrew word is pakod, which also means to “remember” and “be concerned with.” Because יהוה greatly loves His people, He counts them all the time. There are different levels of observance among believers, with some keeping יהוה’s commandments more strictly and some less. A person may belittle the worth of a less observant believer saying: “He is a nothing!” When יהוה commanded Moses to count the Israelite people, He instructed him to count each Israelite as “one,” no more and no less. יהוה’s message was that the Israelite people are His children; each one is equally beloved and has equal value. Chumash

Question: Why were the Israelites counted by families? יהוה instructed the Israelites to group themselves according to families and maintain strong family identities. Our family is not just a group of people we happen to have been born into and live with, rather they are connected to us in a deep spiritual way. We gain so much when we value our families, and make them an important part of our lives. We have so many different people in our lives that sometimes we may forget to value and appreciate the people who really care the most about us – our families.

Question: יהוה counted all the tribes and each man was important to Him. Do you ever feel as if you do not “count”? There are always going to be people who try to make us feel like we don’t ‘count’ – but we should always remember that we do. A person who feels he doesn’t count won’t feel motivated to take his responsibilities seriously. Because each of us – every person in the world – is a special creation of יהוה. יהוה made each of us for a purpose and with a purpose in life that only we can fulfill. The world would be lacking if any of us weren’t here; therefore, everyone, even if sometimes it doesn’t look or feel like it, counts more than we can even imagine.

Question: What is the sign of a great person – his amount of privileges, or his responsibilities? Superficially, it might seem that the more privilege one has the greater one is, but this is an illusion. By that standard, an infant would be the greatest of all, because people constantly wait on him hand and foot, and demand nothing in return. True greatness is found in one who is willing and able to take on more and more responsibility. This is especially true in the spiritual realm, when a person is willing to take on the responsibility not only for his own well being, but also selflessly devote himself to help bring good to the entire world.

Spiritual exercise: How can you make others feel like they are special this week?