Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Parshas Bamidbar

The Starting Count

This week we begin the book of Numbers. Actually, the first portion, Bamidbar, begins with a discussion of numbers. Moshe was told to count the Jewish nation. "Take a census of the entire assembly of the Children of Israel according to their families, according to their fathers' household, by number of the names, every male according to their head count. From twenty years of age and up -- everyone who goes out to the legion in Israel -- you shall count them according to their legions, you and Aaron." (Numbers 1:2-3). This count included every tribe except that of Levi. They were reserved for a separate count. And their count was not of men ages twenty and up. It began with a much younger crew. "Hashem spoke to Moses in the Wilderness of Sinai, saying. "Count the sons of Levi according to their fathers' household, according to their families, every male from one month of age and up shall you count them" (Numbers 3:14-15).

The question is obvious. Why did the infants, one month and above, get counted? Why were the tiny babies included the count? Why were the infant Levites counted and not the infants of the other tribes? The Torah also differentiates between this Levite count and the rest of the nation. "The leader of the Levite leaders was Elazar, the son of Aaron the Kohen, the assignment of the guardians of the charge of the sanctity" (ibid v. 32). This was not a count for legions. It was a count to assign the guardians in charge of sanctity. Does that start at thirty-days-old? Not long after my father, Rabbi Benjamin Kamenetzky, founded the Yeshiva of South Shore, back in the late 1950s, he invited his illustrious father Rabbi Yaakov Kamenetzky, of blessed memory, to visit the school. After an impressive tour, in which he interviewed teachers and tested the students of the fledgling institution, my father showed him the pre-school program, which imbued the youngest children with a love for Judaism. On the portal of the classroom, there was a colorful mezuzah. Normally a mezuzah is supposed to be placed at the bottom of the top third of the doorpost. This one was not. It was placed lower - at the bottom third of the doorpost. The teachers explained to both my father and grandfather the reasoning for the downward adjustment. "This way, the children will be able to reach the mezuzah, and kiss it." My grandfather smiled. "We must not lower the mezuzah, for the children to kiss it. Instead, we must raise the child, to reach the mezuzah at its proper level. What we must do is put a stepstool in order for the children to reach higher -- to the proper level of the mezuzah! Raise the child at an early age to reach the height of the mitzvah, instead of lowering the mitzvah to the child!"

The difference between the counting of the Levites and the rest of the nation is very clear. The nation was, as a whole, counted "according to their legions," the Levites were counted for their job of " guardians of the charge of the sanctity." Though legions are counted at a fighting age, our children, guardians of the sanctity of our nation, must be counted as early as possible. The tribe of Levi represents our leadership. "Today," says Maimonides, "everyone who accepts Torah leadership is considered an integral member of tribe of Levi!" For that mission, no child is too young! Charged with the mission of guarding the sanctuary and preserving the spirituality of the nation, we must lift the heads of our children, imbuing them with finite goals and responsibilities, from their very first moments of cognizance. We must raise them to the greatest height of spirituality at the earliest age. Even if we need a stepstool!

Good Shabbos

Dedicated to the speedy healing of Hinda bas Gittel, Mrs. Henrietta Milstein


Copyright © 1997 by Rabbi M. Kamenetzky and Project Genesis, Inc.

If you enjoy the weekly Drasha, now you can receive the best of Drasha in book form! Purchase Parsha Parables - from the Project Genesis bookstore - Genesis Judaica - at a very special price!

The author is the Associate Dean of the Yeshiva of South Shore.

Drasha is the e-mail edition of FaxHomily, a weekly torah facsimile on the weekly portion which is sponsored by The Henry and Myrtle Hirsch Foundation


 






ARTICLES ON DEVARIM AND THE THREE WEEKS:

View Complete List

By The Rivers of Babylon...
Shlomo Katz - 5759

Eisav's Reward
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5759

Don't Just Scratch the Surface
Shlomo Katz - 5762

> What Are We Missing On Tisha B'Av?
Rabbi Label Lam - 5764

The Nine Days of Mourning
Rabbi Dovid Green - 5758

In Other Words
Shlomo Katz - 5764

Looking for a Chavrusah?

The Purpose of the Fifth Book
Shlomo Katz - 5767

Unquestioned Answers
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5761

Tooth and Nail
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5770

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

The Bobover Rebbe Zt"l
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5760

The Red Heifer Reality
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5765

All Israel
Rabbi Label Lam - 5770

ArtScroll

Immortal Teacher
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5760

17th of Tammuz: Why We Fast - Part 1
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5758

Mourning on the 9th of Av: The Reasons
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5757

Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5771



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information