COUNTING ON YOU
Parashat BamidbarÂ Parashat BamidbarÂ
begins with the census and the flags. The census was taken of male Jews from age twenty and up, of those eligible for the army. Two concepts are difficult to understand. If the Jews did not have any plans to go to war, what was the purpose of the count? And what is the importance of a detailed description of the flags and formation of the Tribes around the Tabernacle?
The Midrash tells us that when the Jews stood at Mt. Sinai, they saw the skies open up, as the Shechina descended onto the mountain on that 6th day of Sivan. They did not see the Shechina, G-dâ€™s glory; they saw the Merkava, the hundreds of thousands of angels that were surrounding G-d in an orderly fashion. Michael on the right, Gavriel on the left, Raphael behind and Uriel in front. Each of these chief angels stood at the top of a pyramid of â€œangel troopsâ€. Each troop with its flag. When the Jews saw the honor that the angels give G-d, in troop formation, they also yearned to have flags and troops and to surround the Shechina. They desired to be holy and close to G-d, just like the angels! So, in this week’s parasha, G-d granted their wish. They could have both flags and troops, in formation encircling the Tabernacle. G-d would count them, just as he counts an army. What is the significance of the count?
People count what is important to them. Numbers are used to count money and time, for these are things people value. The more one counts an item, the more he values it. G-d counts His children in the desert, because they are of utmost importance to Him. Each and every Jew. He is forever counting us, because each and every one of us is so, so important to Him. Having just left the darkness of Egyptian slavery, a Jewish slave could have thought, â€œDoes G-d know what I went through? Was He involved with me on a personal level? Does He even know that I exist?â€
We are presently in the Facebook exile. To feel good, to feel that I am worth something, I need to be validated, to know that someone values my existence. If no one validates me, how do I know that I have any worth? Well, if you are Jewish, this is not a question, because even if no one “validates” you, G-d validates you. People today have a hard time believing it, because they did not get “thumbs up” from G-d on Facebook, and because they do not see G-d following them on Twitter.
In light of this, we can understand the flags and the arrangement of the Jewish nation around the Tabernacle. We are the nation that G-dâ€™s glory rests upon, and He is sanctified in this world through us. Each Tribe had its own flag and its special position in the tribe formation around the Tabernacle, symbolizing each Tribeâ€™s identity. Not only does G-d value you, He even values your identity, your traditions, and your family. He is sanctified through so many individuals who all proclaim â€œG-d is King!â€ Each and every member of the Jewish Nation is a number in G-dâ€™s count. G-d does not want a big mesh, a faceless conglomeration, because people are different from one another. He appreciates that you are who you are, and that you serve Him with your identity. Because no one can serve Him with your identity the way you can.