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Bamidbar

PARSHA ON PARADE IS DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY
OF MY DEAR FATHER AND REBBI:
HARAV HAGAON RAV YESHAYA SHIMANOWITZ Z'TZL ,
ROSH YESHIVA
IN
YESHIVAS RABAINU YAAKOV YOSEF
(RABBI JACOB JOSEPH YESHIVA - RJJ)
IN NYC FOR OVER 23 YEARS.
NIFTAR ON 20 ADAR 5758 - MARCH 18, 1998.
MAY HE BE A MAYLITZ YOSHER FOR ALL OF KLAL YISROEL.

AND

MY DEAR MOTHER
REBITZEN BRACHA ETEL SHIMANOWITZ A'H
WHO DEVOTED HER ENTIRE LIFE TO MY FATHER AND HIS TORAH,
NIFTERA ON 21 TEVET 5770 - WED EVE. JANUARY 6, 2010.
MAY SHE BE A MAYLITZA YOSHER FOR ALL OF KLAL YISROEL


Menachim Z. Shimanowitz

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PARSHA
FACTS

NUMBER OF MITZVOT: NONE

NUMBER OF PESUKIM (SENTENCES): 159

NUMBER OF WORDS: 1823

NUMBER OF LETTERS: 7393

HAFTORA: (Additional portion, from Prophets, which is read after the Parsha)
Hoshea / Hosea 2:1 - 22

This week we study Chapter 6 of Pirkei Avot - "Ethics of the Fathers"

SUNDAY, MAY 28, 3 SIVAN, marks the beginning of the שלשת ימי הגבלה— the three days before Shavuot, on which the Bnei Yisroel purified themselves before receiving the Torah.

שבועות Shavuot is Wednesday and Thursday, May 31 - June 1, 2017.


פרשת במדבר
THE
PARSHA
In our last episode, Hashem wrapped up Sefer Vayikra with five brachot that He would Bestow upon theBnei Yisroel if they kept the Shmita and Yovel cycles.

As Sefer Bamidbar opens, the Bnei Yisroel have entered a new stage of their relationship with Hashem. The Eigel Hazahav (golden calf) blunder is forgiven. The Mishkan is complete.

The first day of Iyar 2449... In the desert Sinai...

It is the second month in the second year since Yetziat Mitzrayim (the exodus from Egypt).

Time to take stock of Bnei Yisroel: Hashem commands Moshe to count all Jewish men ages 20 to 60.
Here's how it's done:


Moshe gets Aharon and the Nesi'yim (Princes) of each Shevet (tribe) to collect a half shekel from every male 20 to 60. In the process each person registers his name, and his family according to his father's side. The only Shevet that isn't counted is Shevet Levi.

The census begins right away and takes many days but in the end the grand total comes to 603,550 - exactly the same as the last count. During the time it took to build the Mishkan, not a single Jew has died!


LET'S GET
SYSTEMATIC

Once the people are counted, Hashem gives Moshe a system - a blueprint that divides the camp into three main sections.

At the center of the camp is the Mishkan. This area is called "Camp of the Shechina (Divine Presence)." This camp is the holiest of all three camps.

Surrounding the Camp of the Shechina is the "Camp of the Leviyim." The east side of this camp is closest to the entrance of the Mishkan. Only Moshe, Aharon and Aharon's sons are holy enough to set up house here. All other Levite families that surround the Mishkan must leave a distance of about 1500 feet between their homes and the Camp of the Shechina.

There are three other Levite clans: Gershon, Kehat and Merari.

The Gershon clan sets up house on the west side. The Kehat clan settles on the south side and the Merari clan settle on the north side.

The third camp is called Machaneh Yisroel, The Camp of Israel. This camp surrounds the Levite camp. Three tribes live in each of the four directions.

On the east side you've got Yehuda, Yissachar and Zevulun. On the south side it's Reuven, Gad and Shimon. The west side houses Ephraim, Binyamin and Menashe. On the north side, Dan, Asher and Naftali.

This leaves four corners of the camp to set up pastures for cattle. Borders between the camps and the tribes are formed by a network of streams that flow from a well of water. This well is called "Miriam's well." It miraculously follows the Bnei Yisroel through the desert in the merit of Moshe's sister, Miriam.


GOT 'EM
COVERED

Six Ananei Ha'kovod (clouds of glory) surround all three camps, protecting the encampment day and night. Four - on their sides, one - over, and one - beneath them. A seventh cloud leads the way.

Beyond the clouds, the Eirev Rav, that mixed Multitude of trouble makers, lingers separate from the Bnei Yisroel. They are not allowed into the camps.

The total area of the 3 camps - the Camp of the Shechina, the Camp of the Levites, and the Machaneh Yisroel is 12 miles by 12 miles.


FLAG
DOWN THE
NATION

FlagsAt Har (Mt.) Sinai the Jews watched in awe as 22,000 chariots of Malachim (angels) accompanied the Shechina descending the mountain. These Malachim were divided into four divisions and each division had a flag.

Watching this Heavenly army, the Jews wished to be the army of Hashem, surrounding the Shechina that would rest in their midst.

Now, Hashem would grant that wish!

Moshe is told that from from now on, the camp would be divided under four banners.

  • The Yehuda division, which also includes Yissachar and Zevulun;

  • the Ephraim division, which also includes Menashe and Binyamin;

  • the Reuven division, which also includes Shimon and Gad; and

  • the Dan division, which also includes Asher and Naftali.
Each flag has a mascot and words embroidered on its material.

Yehuda's sky blue flag has a lion with the letters aleph-yud-yud for Avrohom, Yitzchok and Yaakov;

Reuven's red flag has a picture of the roots of a flower that look like a man. This flag reads resh-chet-kuf, the second set of letters of the names of the Avot.

The deep black flag of Ephraim has a picture of a young bull. The third set of letters of the names of the Avot - bet-tzadi-heh are embroidered here.

The flag of Dan is opal colored and features a snake. The last set of letters of the Avot's names, mem-kuf-bet are featured here.


PACKING
OUT

A trek through the desert with 3 million people has to be organized like clockwork. Hashem's travel formation is a combo of spiritual and physical strength. The Yehuda division, destined to be kings, stands out in front followed by the Levite families of Gershon and Merari.

Reuven's division comes next, then the Kehat clan of Leviyim. The Ephraim division follows. And finally the Dan division, which is the strongest of all divisions, guarding the nation from the rear.


FLYING
THE
COLORS

Each individual Shevet gets a flag that fits the personality and expectation of that tribe. The flags are made of silk and match the color of the gem stone that represents that tribe on the Kohain Gadol's Chosen - breastplate.

Reuven - He's got a red flag that symbolizes the revenge he will take on Edom. His symbol is a mandrake, a kind of plant that grows in the wild. Reuven chose these flowers for his mother because he wanted to make sure they did not anyone elses property. His tribe was very careful not to steal.

Shimon -The flag of Shimon is green with an embroidery of a city, representing Shechem. Shimon's conquest of the city of Shechem is considered the first in the conquest of Eretz Yisroel.

Levi -The flag of Levi is white, black and red. White symbolizes their purity; black symbolizes a lack of worldly possessions, and red symbolizing the blood of sacrifices. Upon it is embroidered the Chosen breastplate that the Kohain Gadol wears.

Yehuda -Yehuda's flag is the color of t'cheilet, the blue dye that was used for tzitzit. On the flag is embroidered a lion, the symbol of royalty. From the line of Yehuda comes King David and Moshiach.

Yissachar - his flag is black with an embroidered sun and moon. Like the tribe of Levi, Yissachar is dedicated to the spiritual world. Black represents a lack of physical possessions. The people of this tribe are great astronomers who helped to set up the Jewish calendar.

Zevulun - The flag of Zevulun is white with the embroidery of a ship. This tribe settles by the water and conducts business overseas. They are dedicated to supporting the Torah study of Yissachar. The white represents their pure business intentions.

Dan - An opal-colored flag and the serpent embroidered on it both allude to the mighty Shimshon who shows strength and cunning when dealing with the Pelishtim (Philistines).

Gad - The flag of Gad is woven from black and white threads. A troop of soldiers is embroidered on the silk cloth. The tribe of Gad faces the uncertainty of battle with great trust in Hashem.

Naftali - His flag is the color of diluted wine. A deer is embroidered on the flag. The descendants of Naftali study Torah from the mouth of the Sanhedrin.

Asher - Asher's flag is a pearl color silk. Upon it an olive tree is embroidered. Asher's portion in the land of Eretz Yisroel is filled with olive trees. His descendants' daughters are destined to marry Kohanim Gedolim and kings.

Ephraim - A black flag with a young bull represents Yehoshua (Joshua).

Menashe - Also a black flag. A wild ox is embroidered in the silk to represent the descendant Gideon, the Judge.

Binyamin - His flag combines the colors of all the other tribes. The Bait Hamikdash is located in the land of Binyamin. Through the korbanot of the Bait Hamikdash, all the Shvatim (tribes) are brought together. A wolf is embroidered on the flag representing the eagerness of Heaven to "snatch" the korbanot, consuming them with the Heavenly fire.

As the flags are raised the entire nation is an organized unit, ready to serve Hashem. The Shechina lowers itself from amidst the heavenly units to rest on Bnei Yisroel. The flags represent the refined, strengthened nation, acting as a single unit, reaching new heights of kedusha (holiness).


LEVI
STANDS
ALONE

Hashem commands Moshe to count the Leviyim separately. Every male from the age of one month to 60. The total comes out to a low score of 22,000, less than any other Shevet.

Apparently, many Leviyim died because they didn't have respect when carrying the Aron (Ark).


MISHKAN
MOVERS

When it's time to pack out, the tribe of Levi puts the moves on the Mishkan.

Here's how the responsibilities are split up:

Levi, the son of Yaakov, had three sons: Gershon, Kahat and Merari. They become the leaders of the tribe of Levi. Now, in the desert, the tribe of Levi remains split into three families.

The descendants of Gershon carry the woven parts of the Mishkan. There were lots of curtains and ropes used for walls and entrances in this temporary sanctuary. That also includes mats and coverings of the Mishkan.

The descendants of Kehat get to carry the Kaylim: The Aron, Menora, two Altars, the Shulchan, the vessels used with these objects and the curtain that divides the Kodesh from the Kodesh Hakodoshim.

The descendants of Merari lug the wood. That includes the planks, the poles, the sockets and the rope used to tie the net curtains.


FIRST
BORN
FALLOUT

The third count made in this Parsha is of all firstborns one month and older (not including the tribe of Levi). This count scores 22,273.

Originally, the firstborn of each family was supposed to serve in the Mishkan. But after the golden calf incident, Hashem gave that privilege to the tribe of Levi, the only group that did not fall for the Eigel Hazohov.

Now Hashem makes the switch official. There are 22, 273 first borns. There are 22,000 Leviyim. Hashem makes an even switch, a firstborn for a Levi. This leaves 273 first borns to contend with.

Hashem tells Moshe that these 273 firstborns should each give five shekalim to redeem themselves from the service in the Mishkan. This money is given to Aharon and his sons.


KEHAT'S
COUNT

Carrying the major objects of the Mishkan takes strength, control and maturity. Hashem has this in mind when He commands Moshe to count all the members of the Kehat clan, ages 30 to 50.

There are tough rules for transporting these Keilim:

They have to be carried on people's shoulders - no flat bed trucks allowed. No looking or touching either!

The Aron is the toughest call of all. If a Levi shows any lack of respect for the Aron, he's dead!


WRAP
IT UP!

When it is time to pack up, the Kohanim do the wrapping of the major kaylim in the Mishkan: the Aron, Shulchan, Menora, and the two altars. Here's how it's done:

Work The Aron is covered with the Parochet - the curtain that separates the Kodesh and Kodesh Hakodoshim. Next, the Aron is wrapped in the waterproof skin of a tachash. A Tachash is an animal that was transported to the desert by Hashem specially to make a covering for the Kodesh Hakodoshim. Then the Aron and its wrapping are covered with a cloth dyed t'cheilet blue.

The Shulchan, containing its 12 loaves of Lecham Hapanim is wrapped in a blue cloth. Once the cloth is in place, any other vessels that are used for the Shulchan are placed on top. A purple cloth is wrapped around the vessels and Shulchan and then an outer wrapping made of tachash skin is put in place.

The Menora and its utensils are wrapped in a blue cloth, then wrapped in a tachash skin. The Menorah is carried on a carrying frame made of poles.

The Mizbayach Haketoret (incense Altar) is wrapped in a t'cheilet colored cloth then in a tachash skin. The Mizbayach is then carried by its carrying poles.

The big Mizbayach is a little more complicated because it has a flame of heavenly fire burning at its center all the time. For transport, this fire is covered with a metal dome, then the entire Mizbayach is covered with a purple cloth. They place all the utensils used for this Mizbayach on top of the purple cloth. Finally, they wrap the Mizbayach with its utensils in a tachash skin. The Mizbayach is then carried by its carrying poles.


ELAZAR
TAKES
THE LEAD

Hashem appoints Aharon's son, Elazar, as leader and coordinator of the transport team. Elazar picks only the most righteous people to carry the Kaylim. He also coordinates with the other shvatim to make sure the entire Bnei Yisroel is ready to move. When it's time to settle back down, Elazar coordinates the reassembly job of the Mishkan.

Elazar, himself, carries flour for the Korban Mincha, oil used to annoint kohanim, oil used to light the Menora, and spices for the Ketoret (incense). Elazar has to carry enough supplies to last a year. According to some sources, this extremely heavy load weighed 1288 lbs. WOW!!


Speaking of packing out, let's pack out of this Parsha and head out to the next..

Tune in next week as the Gershon and Merari clans carry on with carrying the Mishkan in the next exciting episode of:

Parsha on Parade

Midrash Maven
See the Midrash Maven on Bamidbar

Reuven Shimon Levi Yehuda Yissachar Zevulun Dan Gad Naftali Asher Ephraim Menashe Binyamin


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