B’Midbar: You’re Not Just a Number

“Take the sum of all the congregation of the children of Israel…” (Numbers 1:2)

God commands Moses to “take” a census of the Children of Israel. However, the Hebrew words “Se’u eth rosh” literally mean, “Elevate the head,” rather than, “Take the sum.” The English connotes the intent of God’s command to Moses to take a census of the nation, a “head count,” so to speak. Interestingly, the word “elevate” connotes counting. Why does the Torah employ “elevation” to mean counting? And why the singular “head,” rather than the plural “heads,” or a collective term like “sum”? More fundamentally, why does an omniscient God require a census of the people in the first place? Surely He knows their number!

The Torah means to convey, though sadly lost in translation, that each individual, not merely the whole, holds a unique importance in the eyes of God, which is the reason for the census in the first place. Of course the Almighty knows the number of the nation, but He commands that each individual be counted to convey to each person their particular import in the eyes of God. Each person must know how precious he or she is to God and never underestimate one’s value.

In accordance with one’s recognition of one’s significance in the Universe comes the recognition of one’s personal responsibility in the world. If I am so important to God that He takes note of me personally, than my actions, words, and even my thoughts become colossally, universally significant. With this realization, one becomes elevated and motivated to improve oneself in every facet possible, and in so doing, elevates the world, fulfilling one’s very purpose of creation.

May we merit to recognize how precious we are to our Creator, and thereby find the inspiration to fulfill our awesome potential.

Based on Shla”h, Parshas B’Midbar.

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(Image from Wallpapers Wide)


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