Every Person Counts

Who gets the greatest amount of attention from the principal? Is it the troublemakers? Sure, they get the most negative attention in the school. Yet the high achievers, the ones that make the school look good, the ones that get into the best schools, and the ones that get the most positive attention. What about all the people in the middle? Shouldn’t every person be entitled to the same attention? In our Parsha this week, G-d demonstrates that all children deserve love and attention at all times.

The Book of Bamidbar/Numbers begins with an accounting of the Israelites:

Numbers 1:2

שְׂא֗וּ אֶת־רֹאשׁ֙ כׇּל־עֲדַ֣ת בְּנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל לְמִשְׁפְּחֹתָ֖ם לְבֵ֣ית אֲבֹתָ֑ם בְּמִסְפַּ֣ר שֵׁמ֔וֹת כׇּל־זָכָ֖ר לְגֻלְגְּלֹתָֽם׃

Take a census of the whole Israelite people by family and by tribe, listing the names of every adult male, head by head.

The great commentator Rashi wants to know why G-d counts the Israelites again for the third time since leaving Egypt.

He responds:

. מִתּוֹךְ חִבָּתָן לְפָנָיו מוֹנֶה אוֹתָם כָּל שָׁעָה — כְּשֶׁיָּצְאוּ מִמִּצְרַיִם מְנָאָן, וּכְשֶׁנָּפְלוּ בָּעֵגֶל מְנָאָן לֵידַע מִנְיַן הַנּוֹתָרִים, כְּשֶׁבָּא לְהַשְׁרוֹת שְׁכִינָתוֹ עֲלֵיהֶם מְנָאָם, בְּאֶחָד

Since they were precious to G-d, He counts them continuously:

  1. When they went forth from Egypt He counted them (Exodus 12:37),
  2. When many of them fell in consequence of worshipping the Golden Calf, He counted them to ascertain the number of those left (cf. Rashi Exodus 30:16)
  3. Now as He will rest His Shechinah – Presence upon them (i. e. when He commanded them to make a tabernacle), He again takes their census.

All three of the accountings occur during the first year after the Exodus. There could not have been a large difference in number from one census to the next. So why were there so many censuses?

As Rashi explains, it’s because G-d’s children are precious to Him. G-d doesn’t only count them after a tragedy (the Golden Calf incident), He doesn’t only count them at grand moments (when they crossed the Red Sea and “when He will rest His Shechinah upon them”), rather G-d loves every single one of His children and attends to them in good times, bad times and all times.

Parents need to take note of all of their children and their efforts. Some will certainly stand out more than others at different times, but like G-d, we too must tend to all of our children, all of the time.

In just a few weeks we will be celebrating FedFest100, the 100th year celebration of the contributions made by so many to help so many here in our community and around the world. It will be a time to celebrate our community at large and every person who has played a role in it.

Please come out and enjoy FedFest100, a celebration of everyone and all we have experienced together. Learn more about the event here.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Epstein

Community Scholar in Residence