Tuesday, June 2, 2009

How Fortunate!

We have been seeing how every clause of the first sentence of Bamidbar can be read as a testimony to God's love for the Jews.

  • "On the first day of the second month, in the second year following the exodus from the land of Egypt"-- by specifying the date, the rabbis said, the Torah makes it clear that the census was a joyous occasion. (They actually go on to compare it to a wedding, and the census is the marriage contract or ketubah!)
  • "In the wilderness of Sinai"--in the desolate places, where human beings often leave their bones, God feeds, waters, shelters, and teaches the Jewish people God's ways for forty years.
  • "Take a census"--literally, "lift up the head." They will no longer hold their heads down like slaves.
For a coda, let me simply quote what the Midrash Rabbah says about "the Lord spoke to Moses":

How fortunate was Moses! Six hundred thousand people were present, and the priests, and the Levites and the elders, all were present, yet out of these [God] spoke only with Moses!
With midrash, the creative interpretation practiced by the rabbis, there are no boring parts of Torah. It is up to us to be equally creative.

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