Bamidbar: Natural Life

Sefer Bamidbar can be viewed as a book of missed opportunities. A small group of Jewish slaves—the midrash claims no more than one in five—showed great faith and resolve as they marched through a barren desert to hear the word of G-d. Under the leadership of Moshe, Miriam and Aharon, they were preparing to enter the land of Israel and thus Sefer Bamidbar opens with the counting of the soldiers who would triumphantly conquer the land. 

Bamidbar: Making Mistakes

In order to be effective, leaders must be sensitive to the feelings and concerns of the general populace. It is not only fact, but also perception that matters. Leaders must have higher ethical standards, and they must also be seen by the public in this light. Any perception (especially if it's true!) that they are above the law renders their moral leadership compromised.

Bamidbar: Names and Numbers

Parshat Bamidbar is, on its surface, little more that names and numbers. The bulk of the parsha lists the counting of the Jewish people, tribe by tribe. People tend to skim over these “boring details”. Yet names and numbers provide a good deal of insight, representing as they do much more profound ideas. A cursory glance at the names in our parsha highlights a common feature of Torah names. More often than not, biblical names represent ideas and highlight the themes of the story. The names of the leaders of the tribes not only identify them, but also define them.

Bamidbar: Blossoming Desert

The desert conjures up images of heat, hunger, thirst, wastelands and wandering, certainly not a place to stage important events. Yet it was in the desert that the Torah was given. The connection between the receiving of the Torah and the desert is underscored by the fact that we always begin sefer Bamidbar—which details the wandering of the Jews in the desert—on the Shabbat preceding Shavuot. Why was such an inauspicious place chosen as the location for history’s most important moment?

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