Friday, May 30, 2014

Themes of Sefer Bamidbar

Last year, we started a project of discovering the themes of each Sefer in Chumash. So far, we have gone through Sefer Devarim. With us now two weeks in to Sefer Bamidbar, I felt it was time to publish my thoughts from last year on the sefer and see what the readers thought. 

       In order to help us properly understand and appreciate what we are reading in the Torah,  it is important to place a central theme to each sefer that can help us identify the underlying reasons behind the events of the parsha each week. (As each sefer tells its own story, I have decided to place a theme around the entire sefer as opposed to a few parshiyos.) 
       I believe Sefer Bamidbar shows Hashem's incredible love for Bnei Yisrael, starting from His bringing us through the uninhabitable desert to the beautiful and holy land of Eretz Yisrael. This show of love for us, specifically throughout our journey in the desert, comes as a result of Bnei Yisrael's faith they showed in Hashem by actually journeying into that desolate wasteland. As the pasuk says, " כה אמר יהוה מצא חן במדבר עם שרידי חרב הלוך להרגיעו ישראל"  "So said Hashem, this people that survived the sword found favor in the wilderness, as I led Yisrael to its place of tranquility" (Yirmiyahu 31:1). Here is, parsha by parsha, how we see a special show of love from Hashem through the events of the parsha.

 Parshas Bamidbar- Hashem tells Moshe to take a census of the Jewish People. The question is asked why Hashem has to count the people, doesn’t He know the number? The answer is that when you own something precious, you count it over and over again. We clearly see Hashem’s love for us through this counting.

Parshas Nasso- Hashem has Moshe count Shevet Levi, the tribe which was given over to Him through their service in the Mishkan and later, the Beis Hamikdash…The Blessings of the Kohanim are given over. They promise success, protection, and favor; all in Hashem’s Name…The Mishkan is dedicated as a resting place for the shechina. What greater love can Hashem show us?

Parshas Beha’aloscha- Shevet Levi is officially consecrated for work in the Mishkan. The Kedushas Levi (based on Rashi 8:19) explains that the Leviim were chosen to fill the role to help atone for the sins of the Nation. This shows Hashem’s love for everyone…The mitzvah of Pesach Sheni is told over. There is no reason why Hashem has to give this extra opportunity to fulfill the mitzvah of Korban Pesach. The only explanation is that Hashem gives us extra opportunities to do mitzvos!

Parshas Shelach- After the whole episode with the Meraglim, Hashem punishes that generation that they will not be allowed to enter Eretz Yisrael. Immediately afterwards, He gives the mitzvah of libations for korbanos, something which will only be done in Eretz Yisrael. This showed the Nation in the midst of hopeless depression that they would eventually enter the Land.

Parshas Korach- After Korach’s rebellion, we are shown that the Ketores (incense) offering will serve as a kaparah (atonement) for Bnei Yisrael and help quell Hashem’s anger when the Nation sins.

Parshas Chukas- The actual event didn’t take place in this parshah but Bnei Yisrael realize the miracle of the well and how Hashem gave them the ability to survive in the desert through it… Bnei Yisrael battle Amalek, Sichon, and Og, and are victorious over all three. Remember that Sichon and Og were two of the most powerful kingdoms in the world at the time.

Parshas Balak- Balaam knew the exact time that Hashem would be angry and he would be able to curse Bnei Yisrael. Hashem did not get angry at that time in order for the curse not to happen. The result were some of the greatest brachos and commendations of the Jewish People we find anywhere in Tanach.

Parshas Pinchas- Another census is taken. (See our theme above for Parshas Bamidbar.)…The korbanos for the different Chagim are given.

Parshas Mattos- I have not found a connection to this theme from Parshas Mattos.

Parshas Masei- The preparations for entering Eretz Yisrael begins with the definitions of the boundaries and the division of cities for the Leviim. Eretz Yisrael (and the promise He fulfills to the Avos by giving it to us) is a sign of Hashem’s love to Bnei Yisrael. He gave to us the most holy place on Earth! …The mitzvah of Ir Miklat, Cities of Refuge, is given.

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