Friday 7 June 2024

Shabbos Tzetl: Bamidbar

4:50pm - Candle Lighting, Friday
5:51pm - Havdalah, Saturday
(Melbourne Australia)
Eruv Status: KOSHER
Good Shabbos!

Please click here to view the Yeshivah Shule Tzetel for Shabbos Parshas Bamidbar and Shavuos. Please click here to view the PDFs of Weekly Publications.  

Numbers 1:1–4:20
The name of the Parshah, "Bamidbar," means "In the desert" and it is found in Numbers 1:1.

In the Sinai Desert, G‑d says to conduct a census of the twelve tribes of Israel. Moses counts 603,550 men of draftable age (20 to 60 years); the tribe of Levi, numbering 22,300 males age one month and older, is counted separately. The Levites are to serve in the Sanctuary. They replace the firstborn, whose number they approximated, since they were disqualified when they participated in the worshipping of the Golden Calf. The 273 firstborn who lacked a Levite to replace them had to pay a five-shekel "ransom" to redeem themselves.

When the people broke camp, the three Levite clans dismantled and transported the Sanctuary, and reassembled it at the center of the next encampment. They then erected their own tents around it: the Kohathites, who carried the Sanctuary's vessels (the Ark, menorah, etc.) in their specially designed coverings on their shoulders, camped to its south; the Gershonites, in charge of its tapestries and roof coverings, to its west; and the families of Merari, who transported its wall panels and pillars, to its north. Before the Sanctuary's entranceway, to its east, were the tents of Moses, Aaron, and Aaron's sons.

Beyond the Levite circle, the twelve tribes camped in four groups of three tribes each. To the east were Judah (pop. 74,600), Issachar (54,400) and Zebulun (57,400); to the south, Reuben (46,500), Simeon (59,300) and Gad (45,650); to the west, Ephraim (40,500), Manasseh (32,200) and Benjamin (35,400); and to the north, Dan (62,700), Asher (41,500) and Naphtali (53,400). This formation was kept also while traveling. Each tribe had its own nassi (prince or leader), and its own flag with its tribal color and emblem.

Hosea 2:1-22
This week's haftorah begins with the words, "The number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea [shore], which can be neither measured nor counted." An appropriate reading for the first Torah reading of the Book of Numbers.

Hosea first prophesies about the eventual reunification of the houses of Judah and Israel. During the Messianic Era, these two perennial antagonists will make peace and appoint a single leader. Hosea then rebukes the Jewish people for their infidelity, abandoning their "husband," G‑d, and engaging in adulterous affairs with pagan deities. He describes the punishments they will suffer because of this unfaithfulness.

Eventually, though, Hosea reassures the Jews that they will repent, and G‑d will accept them back wholeheartedly. The haftorah concludes with the moving words: "And I will betroth you to Me forever, and I will betroth you to Me with righteousness and with justice and with loving-kindness and with mercy."


G‑d spoke to Moses in the desert of Sinai (1:1)

Fire, water and desert—by these we established our commitment to the Torah.

The first Jew, Abraham, was cast into a fiery furnace for his loyalty to the way of G‑d. And lest one say that this was an extraordinary act by an extraordinary individual, at the shores of the Red Sea an entire people plunged into the sea's waters when the divine command to "move forward!" issued forth. And lest one say that this was a spur-of-the-moment heroism, for forty years the people of Israel followed G‑d through the barren, hostile desert, trusting in Him to provide for them and protect them. As the prophet Jeremiah declaims, "I remember the kindness of your youth, your bridal love, your following after Me in the desert, in an unsown land."

(Rabbi Meir Shapira of Lublin)

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