We Count

We count (a shiur for Bemidbar)

  • imageWe count six days and we get a Shabbat.
  • We count seven weeks after Pesach and the next day is a holiday.
  • We count seven years and the land gets a reprieve from direct ownership.
  • We count seven sets of seven years, and the next year we all get to be free from all our financial problems.
  • We count our newborn animals and every tenth belongs to Hashem.
  • The first sixtieth, fiftieth, or fortieth of corn, olive oil, and wine is counted out and given to the cohanim as terumah.
  • One-tenth of what remain, the maaser rishon, is given to the levites
  • One-tenth of what yet remain, the maaser sheni, is either sold or taken to Jerusalem to be eaten during the holiday seasons.

We are not the only ones who count.

Hashem counts the hair on our heads and he counts his people. The difference with Hashem is, he lifts our heads when He orders a census. He counted the children of Israel and he separated them from the nations of the world. From the tribes of Israel, G-d separated the levites and He counted them. From the Levites, he separated Aaron and his descendants and called them to be Cohanim. Sadly, this was not supposed to be the case. When G-d separated us from the Egyptians, he killed all their firstborn. Once He did that, He sanctified our firstborn because He spared all them when He destroyed the firstborn of Egypt. It was His intent that the descendants of Aaron would be priests and the firstborn would serve as the support structure and Torah teachers throughout the land. However, this all changed with the Cheit haEgel (the sin of the golden calf). The firstborn were tarnished because, according to Rashi and Ramban, they served as priests at the mizbeach, the altar that stood at the feet of the golden calf. When Moshe came down from the mountain carrying the tablets, he threw the tablets down and shattered them at the base of the mountain, and he called for those who are on Hashem’s side, let him come to me. The Leviim came and 3,000 men fell. At this point, Hashem commanded that the Levite would, herein, serve before Hashem as the firstborn of Israel. However, the elevation of the Levite to a position of kedushah (holiness) does not necessarily remove the kedushah of the firstborn. In fact, there is a whole tractate, tractate Temurah, in the Mishnah and Babylonian Talmud that deals with the whole subject of replacing something dedicated to Hashem with another item. Both remain holy before G-d.

Why does god count?

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Yeshua, but the Pharisees and the Torah teachers muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” Then Yeshua told them this parable. “Suppose one has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Wouldn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

Why does the shepherd count? Out of love.

What does this teach us? It teaches that each of us are separated from the world for a special purpose, and that purpose is very important to our Creator. Whether you are the Cohein Gadol (High Priest), a Cohein (priest), and Levite, an Ivrit (a Jewish person), a ger (convert), or a G-d-fearer, or a righteous gentile, we all serve a special, divinely inspired function. Our calling is miraculous in itself if we look at the impurity of our lives, but be content. G-d makes no mistakes and you are exactly where you need to be.


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