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Life is worthless without peace

In the Torah portion of Behar, pharmacy we read that as a consequence of observing the sabbatical and jubilee years, God’s promises us, “…You shall settle the land securely… and you shall settle securely upon it.” This twice repeated promise recurs a third time at the beginning of the next Torah portion, Bechukotai, which is often read in conjunction with the portion of Behar: “And you shall settle securely in your land,” and is immediately followed by the blessing of peace, “And I will grant peace in the land.” Rashi asks, “If you were to say, ‘We have food and we have drink, but if there is no peace then they are worthless!’ for this reason the Torah continues, ‘I will grant peace in the land.’” From here we learn that peace is as important as the sum of all other blessings.” Another blessing that concludes with “peace” is the Priestly Blessing. The Amidah, the main prayer repeated three times a day, also concludes with a blessing for peace. Peace is the link that connects all the prophetic visions of the ultimate redemption and it is the universal catchword and today, everyone wants peace…

Let’s take a look at the concept of peace as it appears in the Hebrew text of the Bible. The Hebrew word for “peace” is shalom (???????). Its shoresh (three-letter root) is shin-lamed-mem (?-?-?), which is also the shoresh of the word shelemut (?????????), which means “wholeness.” The initial idea that we glean from this is that true peace is an expression of wholeness and is dependent upon it, a fact that starkly contradicts with the phonetic similarity between “peace” and “piece” in English. In addition, there is another word, shalvah (????????), meaning “contentment” whose sha’ar (two-letter root), shin-lamed, is the same as that of “peace.” The two words, “contentment” and “peace” often appear together.

Illusions of peace

The shoresh of shalvah is shin-lamed-hei, which also has another, different connotation, as in the word, “illusion” (??????????). There is true peace and contentment and there is contentment that is no more than a tempting, but dangerous, illusion. The peace treaties that we are so familiar with today are not only far from expressing wholeness (somehow they always come at our expense), but they also do not accommodate contentment because they scatter naive illusions in the public mind, which eventually explode in our faces, as the prophet said, “They healed My people’s wounds offhandedly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ but there is no peace” (Jeremiah 6:14).

Peace and pleasure

Peace is also related to spiritual pleasure, which is why, on Shabbat which is intrinsically a day of pleasure, we wish one another “Shabbat shalom.” In order to illustrate the pleasure that is inherent in peace, let’s begin by considering the peace that is attainable by every individual within himself. King David says, “There is no peace in my bones because of my sin” (Psalms 38:4). According to the literal explanation, this refers to physical wholeness and good health, but, in addition, the very presence of sin contradicts peace. There must be peace between the soul and the body, and sin violates that connection.

In contrast, a proper connection between soul and body is described as, “peace in my bones [essence].” It is clear that this type of peace cannot merely be “a ceasefire;” rather it is a sense of contentment and pleasure that results from inner harmony.

Now, having seen what peace means for us, as individuals, let’s take a look at peace in the family. True family harmony is more than family members not yelling at one another, or knowing how to maneuver around one other, or even having respect for one another. Rather, family peace is a pleasant feeling and sense of how good it is to simply live together. In particular this pleasant appeal manifests in the commandment to light Shabbat candles on Friday evening, which is intended to induce a sense of family harmony and pleasure on Shabbat. The light of the candles reflects the beauty and joy of family harmony, as family members look at one another with glowing faces, enveloped in a canopy of light.

Three circles of peace

Family harmony and peace extends beyond the close core of immediate family members. The entire Jewish people, “the house ofIsrael,” are one big happy family and we expect that all Jews, wherever they live, should all live together in peace. This type of peace is indeed a messianic goal (because, unfortunately we are still far from achieving it). Still, if we, for a moment, imagine peace and unity between all Jews—Jews and more Jews, from all tribes, factions and opinions, living in peace “All of us, as one in the light of Your countenance”—we certainly feel that this connection between all Jewish souls is steeped in a wonderful sense of pleasure.

Obviously, the messianic goal doesn’t end with peace amongst Jews alone, but aims even higher, to achieve universal peace. The Mashiach will teach the entire world how to make true peace: peace between the soul and the body, family harmony, fraternal peace, peace between Jews and the nations, and peace between all of humanity. As the prophet Zechariah said of the Mashiach, “And he shall speak peace to the nations, and his rule shall be from the sea to the west and from the river to the ends of the earth.” [The word “peace” (???????) appears explicitly in this verse, and in the initial letters of the words, “peace to the nations, and his rule shall be from the sea” (??????? ????????? ?????????? ??????).] World peace does not marginalize the unique light of the Jewish nation. On the contrary, the peace that spreads out so far, “to the ends of the earth,” is the perfect setting from the special qualities of the Jewish nation to be revealed, for in the end, peace between Jewish souls comes from the most exalted source of all.

Peace between Jewish souls is a non-local phenomenon that does not depend upon us being together in one place. Nonetheless, in parashat Bechukotai the Torah emphasizes that, “I will grant peace in the land,” referring of course to the land of Israel. The peace that will be achieved when the land of Israel is whole and the Jewish people are whole will reveal an even greater level of light and pleasure, because the land of Israel is where the Shechinah (the Divine Presence) resides (the land of Israel itself is considered a reflection of the Shechinah). Indeed, this is the culmination of the blessings in parashat Bechukotai, “I will place My dwelling place amongst you… and I will walk amongst you and I will be a God to you and you will be My people.”

These three circles of peace can help us understand Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai’s words in the Zohar  regarding the Mashiach, who is called, “the minister of peace” – “The minister of peace is a righteous person who is at peace with the world, at peace in the home [peace among Jews] and at peace with the Divine Presence.” These three circles of peace form a progression, with each higher than the previous one. We hope to see all three revealed speedily in our days by the minister of peace, the Mashiach.

Life is worthless without peace

In the Torah portion of Behar, adiposity we read that as a consequence of observing the sabbatical and jubilee years, shop God’s promises us, “…You shall settle the land securely… and you shall settle securely upon it.” This twice repeated promise recurs a third time at the beginning of the next Torah portion, Bechukotai, which is often read in conjunction with the portion of Behar: “And you shall settle securely in your land,” and is immediately followed by the blessing of peace, “And I will grant peace in the land.” Rashi asks, “If you were to say, ‘We have food and we have drink, but if there is no peace then they are worthless!’ for this reason the Torah continues, ‘I will grant peace in the land.’” From here we learn that peace is as important as the sum of all other blessings.” Another blessing that concludes with “peace” is the Priestly Blessing. The Amidah, the main prayer repeated three times a day, also concludes with a blessing for peace. Peace is the link that connects all the prophetic visions of the ultimate redemption and it is the universal catchword and today, everyone wants peace…

Let’s take a look at the concept of peace as it appears in the Hebrew text of the Bible. The Hebrew word for “peace” is shalom (???????). Its shoresh (three-letter root) is shin-lamed-mem (?-?-?), which is also the shoresh of the word shelemut (?????????), which means “wholeness.” The initial idea that we glean from this is that true peace is an expression of wholeness and is dependent upon it, a fact that starkly contradicts with the phonetic similarity between “peace” and “piece” in English. In addition, there is another word, shalvah (????????), meaning “contentment” whose sha’ar (two-letter root), shin-lamed, is the same as that of “peace.” The two words, “contentment” and “peace” often appear together.

Illusions of peace

The shoresh of shalvah is shin-lamed-hei, which also has another, different connotation, as in the word, “illusion” (??????????). There is true peace and contentment and there is contentment that is no more than a tempting, but dangerous, illusion. The peace treaties that we are so familiar with today are not only far from expressing wholeness (somehow they always come at our expense), but they also do not accommodate contentment because they scatter naive illusions in the public mind, which eventually explode in our faces, as the prophet said, “They healed My people’s wounds offhandedly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ but there is no peace” (Jeremiah 6:14).

Peace and pleasure

Peace is also related to spiritual pleasure, which is why, on Shabbat which is intrinsically a day of pleasure, we wish one another “Shabbat shalom.” In order to illustrate the pleasure that is inherent in peace, let’s begin by considering the peace that is attainable by every individual within himself. King David says, “There is no peace in my bones because of my sin” (Psalms 38:4). According to the literal explanation, this refers to physical wholeness and good health, but, in addition, the very presence of sin contradicts peace. There must be peace between the soul and the body, and sin violates that connection.

In contrast, a proper connection between soul and body is described as, “peace in my bones [essence].” It is clear that this type of peace cannot merely be “a ceasefire;” rather it is a sense of contentment and pleasure that results from inner harmony.

Now, having seen what peace means for us, as individuals, let’s take a look at peace in the family. True family harmony is more than family members not yelling at one another, or knowing how to maneuver around one other, or even having respect for one another. Rather, family peace is a pleasant feeling and sense of how good it is to simply live together. In particular this pleasant appeal manifests in the commandment to light Shabbat candles on Friday evening, which is intended to induce a sense of family harmony and pleasure on Shabbat. The light of the candles reflects the beauty and joy of family harmony, as family members look at one another with glowing faces, enveloped in a canopy of light.

Three circles of peace

Family harmony and peace extends beyond the close core of immediate family members. The entire Jewish people, “the house ofIsrael,” are one big happy family and we expect that all Jews, wherever they live, should all live together in peace. This type of peace is indeed a messianic goal (because, unfortunately we are still far from achieving it). Still, if we, for a moment, imagine peace and unity between all Jews—Jews and more Jews, from all tribes, factions and opinions, living in peace “All of us, as one in the light of Your countenance”—we certainly feel that this connection between all Jewish souls is steeped in a wonderful sense of pleasure.

Obviously, the messianic goal doesn’t end with peace amongst Jews alone, but aims even higher, to achieve universal peace. The Mashiach will teach the entire world how to make true peace: peace between the soul and the body, family harmony, fraternal peace, peace between Jews and the nations, and peace between all of humanity. As the prophet Zechariah said of the Mashiach, “And he shall speak peace to the nations, and his rule shall be from the sea to the west and from the river to the ends of the earth.” [The word “peace” (???????) appears explicitly in this verse, and in the initial letters of the words, “peace to the nations, and his rule shall be from the sea” (??????? ????????? ?????????? ??????).] World peace does not marginalize the unique light of the Jewish nation. On the contrary, the peace that spreads out so far, “to the ends of the earth,” is the perfect setting from the special qualities of the Jewish nation to be revealed, for in the end, peace between Jewish souls comes from the most exalted source of all.

Peace between Jewish souls is a non-local phenomenon that does not depend upon us being together in one place. Nonetheless, in parashat Bechukotai the Torah emphasizes that, “I will grant peace in the land,” referring of course to the land of Israel. The peace that will be achieved when the land of Israel is whole and the Jewish people are whole will reveal an even greater level of light and pleasure, because the land of Israel is where the Shechinah (the Divine Presence) resides (the land of Israel itself is considered a reflection of the Shechinah). Indeed, this is the culmination of the blessings in parashat Bechukotai, “I will place My dwelling place amongst you… and I will walk amongst you and I will be a God to you and you will be My people.”

These three circles of peace can help us understand Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai’s words in the Zohar  regarding the Mashiach, who is called, “the minister of peace” – “The minister of peace is a righteous person who is at peace with the world, at peace in the home [peace among Jews] and at peace with the Divine Presence.” These three circles of peace form a progression, with each higher than the previous one. We hope to see all three revealed speedily in our days by the minister of peace, the Mashiach.

(From Harav Ginsburgh’s class, Iyar 15 5772)


Life is worthless without peace

In the Torah portion of Behar, cure we read that as a consequence of observing the sabbatical and jubilee years, drugs God’s promises us, website “…You shall settle the land securely… and you shall settle securely upon it.” This twice repeated promise recurs a third time at the beginning of the next Torah portion, Bechukotai, which is often read in conjunction with the portion of Behar: “And you shall settle securely in your land,” and is immediately followed by the blessing of peace, “And I will grant peace in the land.” Rashi asks, “If you were to say, ‘We have food and we have drink, but if there is no peace then they are worthless!’ for this reason the Torah continues, ‘I will grant peace in the land.’” From here we learn that peace is as important as the sum of all other blessings.” Another blessing that concludes with “peace” is the Priestly Blessing. The Amidah, the main prayer repeated three times a day, also concludes with a blessing for peace. Peace is the link that connects all the prophetic visions of the ultimate redemption and it is the universal catchword and today, everyone wants peace…

Let’s take a look at the concept of peace as it appears in the Hebrew text of the Bible. The Hebrew word for “peace” is shalom (???????). Its shoresh (three-letter root) is shin-lamed-mem (?-?-?), which is also the shoresh of the word shelemut (?????????), which means “wholeness.” The initial idea that we glean from this is that true peace is an expression of wholeness and is dependent upon it, a fact that starkly contradicts with the phonetic similarity between “peace” and “piece” in English. In addition, there is another word, shalvah (????????), meaning “contentment” whose sha’ar (two-letter root), shin-lamed, is the same as that of “peace.” The two words, “contentment” and “peace” often appear together.

Illusions of peace

The shoresh of shalvah is shin-lamed-hei, which also has another, different connotation, as in the word, “illusion” (??????????). There is true peace and contentment and there is contentment that is no more than a tempting, but dangerous, illusion. The peace treaties that we are so familiar with today are not only far from expressing wholeness (somehow they always come at our expense), but they also do not accommodate contentment because they scatter naive illusions in the public mind, which eventually explode in our faces, as the prophet said, “They healed My people’s wounds offhandedly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ but there is no peace” (Jeremiah 6:14).

Peace and pleasure

Peace is also related to spiritual pleasure, which is why, on Shabbat which is intrinsically a day of pleasure, we wish one another “Shabbat shalom.” In order to illustrate the pleasure that is inherent in peace, let’s begin by considering the peace that is attainable by every individual within himself. King David says, “There is no peace in my bones because of my sin” (Psalms 38:4). According to the literal explanation, this refers to physical wholeness and good health, but, in addition, the very presence of sin contradicts peace. There must be peace between the soul and the body, and sin violates that connection.

In contrast, a proper connection between soul and body is described as, “peace in my bones [essence].” It is clear that this type of peace cannot merely be “a ceasefire;” rather it is a sense of contentment and pleasure that results from inner harmony.

Now, having seen what peace means for us, as individuals, let’s take a look at peace in the family. True family harmony is more than family members not yelling at one another, or knowing how to maneuver around one other, or even having respect for one another. Rather, family peace is a pleasant feeling and sense of how good it is to simply live together. In particular this pleasant appeal manifests in the commandment to light Shabbat candles on Friday evening, which is intended to induce a sense of family harmony and pleasure on Shabbat. The light of the candles reflects the beauty and joy of family harmony, as family members look at one another with glowing faces, enveloped in a canopy of light.

Three circles of peace

Family harmony and peace extends beyond the close core of immediate family members. The entire Jewish people, “the house ofIsrael,” are one big happy family and we expect that all Jews, wherever they live, should all live together in peace. This type of peace is indeed a messianic goal (because, unfortunately we are still far from achieving it). Still, if we, for a moment, imagine peace and unity between all Jews—Jews and more Jews, from all tribes, factions and opinions, living in peace “All of us, as one in the light of Your countenance”—we certainly feel that this connection between all Jewish souls is steeped in a wonderful sense of pleasure.

Obviously, the messianic goal doesn’t end with peace amongst Jews alone, but aims even higher, to achieve universal peace. The Mashiach will teach the entire world how to make true peace: peace between the soul and the body, family harmony, fraternal peace, peace between Jews and the nations, and peace between all of humanity. As the prophet Zechariah said of the Mashiach, “And he shall speak peace to the nations, and his rule shall be from the sea to the west and from the river to the ends of the earth.” [The word “peace” (???????) appears explicitly in this verse, and in the initial letters of the words, “peace to the nations, and his rule shall be from the sea” (??????? ????????? ?????????? ??????).] World peace does not marginalize the unique light of the Jewish nation. On the contrary, the peace that spreads out so far, “to the ends of the earth,” is the perfect setting from the special qualities of the Jewish nation to be revealed, for in the end, peace between Jewish souls comes from the most exalted source of all.

Peace between Jewish souls is a non-local phenomenon that does not depend upon us being together in one place. Nonetheless, in parashat Bechukotai the Torah emphasizes that, “I will grant peace in the land,” referring of course to the land of Israel. The peace that will be achieved when the land of Israel is whole and the Jewish people are whole will reveal an even greater level of light and pleasure, because the land of Israel is where the Shechinah (the Divine Presence) resides (the land of Israel itself is considered a reflection of the Shechinah). Indeed, this is the culmination of the blessings in parashat Bechukotai, “I will place My dwelling place amongst you… and I will walk amongst you and I will be a God to you and you will be My people.”

These three circles of peace can help us understand Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai’s words in the Zohar  regarding the Mashiach, who is called, “the minister of peace” – “The minister of peace is a righteous person who is at peace with the world, at peace in the home [peace among Jews] and at peace with the Divine Presence.” These three circles of peace form a progression, with each higher than the previous one. We hope to see all three revealed speedily in our days by the minister of peace, the Mashiach.

(From Harav Ginsburgh’s class, Iyar 15 5772)


Life is worthless without peace

In the Torah portion of Behar, we read that as a consequence of observing the sabbatical and jubilee years, and God’s promises us, “…You shall settle the land securely… and you shall settle securely upon it.” This twice repeated promise recurs a third time at the beginning of the next Torah portion, Bechukotai, which is often read in conjunction with the portion of Behar: “And you shall settle securely in your land,” and is immediately followed by the blessing of peace, “And I will grant peace in the land.” Rashi asks, “If you were to say, ‘We have food and we have drink, but if there is no peace then they are worthless!’ for this reason the Torah continues, ‘I will grant peace in the land.’” From here we learn that peace is as important as the sum of all other blessings.” Another blessing that concludes with “peace” is the Priestly Blessing. The Amidah, the main prayer repeated three times a day, also concludes with a blessing for peace. Peace is the link that connects all the prophetic visions of the ultimate redemption and it is the universal catchword and today, everyone wants peace…

Let’s take a look at the concept of peace as it appears in the Hebrew text of the Bible. The Hebrew word for “peace” is shalom (???????). Its shoresh (three-letter root) is shin-lamed-mem (?-?-?), which is also the shoresh of the word shelemut (?????????), which means “wholeness.” The initial idea that we glean from this is that true peace is an expression of wholeness and is dependent upon it, a fact that starkly contradicts with the phonetic similarity between “peace” and “piece” in English. In addition, there is another word, shalvah (????????), meaning “contentment” whose sha'ar (two-letter root), shin-lamed, is the same as that of “peace.” The two words, “contentment” and “peace” often appear together.

Illusions of peace

The shoresh of shalvah is shin-lamed-hei, which also has another, different connotation, as in the word, “illusion” (??????????). There is true peace and contentment and there is contentment that is no more than a tempting, but dangerous, illusion. The peace treaties that we are so familiar with today are not only far from expressing wholeness (somehow they always come at our expense), but they also do not accommodate contentment because they scatter naive illusions in the public mind, which eventually explode in our faces, as the prophet said, “They healed My people’s wounds offhandedly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ but there is no peace” (Jeremiah 6:14).

Peace and pleasure

Peace is also related to spiritual pleasure, which is why, on Shabbat which is intrinsically a day of pleasure, we wish one another “Shabbat shalom.” In order to illustrate the pleasure that is inherent in peace, let’s begin by considering the peace that is attainable by every individual within himself. King David says, “There is no peace in my bones because of my sin” (Psalms 38:4). According to the literal explanation, this refers to physical wholeness and good health, but, in addition, the very presence of sin contradicts peace. There must be peace between the soul and the body, and sin violates that connection.

In contrast, a proper connection between soul and body is described as, “peace in my bones [essence].” It is clear that this type of peace cannot merely be “a ceasefire;” rather it is a sense of contentment and pleasure that results from inner harmony.

Now, having seen what peace means for us, as individuals, let’s take a look at peace in the family. True family harmony is more than family members not yelling at one another, or knowing how to maneuver around one other, or even having respect for one another. Rather, family peace is a pleasant feeling and sense of how good it is to simply live together. In particular this pleasant appeal manifests in the commandment to light Shabbat candles on Friday evening, which is intended to induce a sense of family harmony and pleasure on Shabbat. The light of the candles reflects the beauty and joy of family harmony, as family members look at one another with glowing faces, enveloped in a canopy of light.

Three circles of peace

Family harmony and peace extends beyond the close core of immediate family members. The entire Jewish people, “the house ofIsrael,” are one big happy family and we expect that all Jews, wherever they live, should all live together in peace. This type of peace is indeed a messianic goal (because, unfortunately we are still far from achieving it). Still, if we, for a moment, imagine peace and unity between all Jews—Jews and more Jews, from all tribes, factions and opinions, living in peace “All of us, as one in the light of Your countenance”—we certainly feel that this connection between all Jewish souls is steeped in a wonderful sense of pleasure.

Obviously, the messianic goal doesn’t end with peace amongst Jews alone, but aims even higher, to achieve universal peace. The Mashiach will teach the entire world how to make true peace: peace between the soul and the body, family harmony, fraternal peace, peace between Jews and the nations, and peace between all of humanity. As the prophet Zechariah said of the Mashiach, “And he shall speak peace to the nations, and his rule shall be from the sea to the west and from the river to the ends of the earth.” [The word “peace” (???????) appears explicitly in this verse, and in the initial letters of the words, “peace to the nations, and his rule shall be from the sea” (??????? ????????? ?????????? ??????).] World peace does not marginalize the unique light of the Jewish nation. On the contrary, the peace that spreads out so far, “to the ends of the earth,” is the perfect setting from the special qualities of the Jewish nation to be revealed, for in the end, peace between Jewish souls comes from the most exalted source of all.

Peace between Jewish souls is a non-local phenomenon that does not depend upon us being together in one place. Nonetheless, in parashat Bechukotai the Torah emphasizes that, “I will grant peace in the land,” referring of course to the land of Israel. The peace that will be achieved when the land of Israel is whole and the Jewish people are whole will reveal an even greater level of light and pleasure, because the land of Israel is where the Shechinah (the Divine Presence) resides (the land of Israel itself is considered a reflection of the Shechinah). Indeed, this is the culmination of the blessings in parashat Bechukotai, “I will place My dwelling place amongst you… and I will walk amongst you and I will be a God to you and you will be My people.”

These three circles of peace can help us understand Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai’s words in the Zohar  regarding the Mashiach, who is called, “the minister of peace” – “The minister of peace is a righteous person who is at peace with the world, at peace in the home [peace among Jews] and at peace with the Divine Presence.” These three circles of peace form a progression, with each higher than the previous one. We hope to see all three revealed speedily in our days by the minister of peace, the Mashiach.

(From Harav Ginsburgh’s class, Iyar 15 5772)


The Book of Numbers is so called because it deals principally with the census of the Jewish nation and their organization around the Tabernacle according to their tribes. The entire census—including accounts of both the number of men in each tribe and an account of the total number of men in the entire nation—first appears in chapter 1. The order of encampment around the Tabernacle appears in chapter 2, cialis 40mg “Each individual unto his flag with the banner of their patriarchal house shall the Children of Israel encamp, facing and surrounding the Tent of Meeting shall they camp.” Surprisingly, with the order of encampment, the Torah once more repeats the census numbers appearing in chapter 1. This second enumeration seems redundant. Why did the Torah first relate the census independently of the camp structure (in chapter 1) and then repeat it a second time when laying out the structure of the camps surrounding the Tabernacle (in chapter 2)?

General Census and Inclusive Structure

One idea that can be gleaned from this apparent redundancy is that number and structure (or quantity and form) are independently important.

The census—counting the number of Jews—expresses the importance of every single Jew and God’s fondness for each and every one of us. As Rashi states, “Because of His fondness for them, He [God] counts them at every opportunity.” Every Jew is God’s favorite and every Jewish soul is an entire world.

The census is divided by tribes and each individual is related to his own patriarchal house, “And they declared their pedigrees according to their families according to their fathers' houses” (Numbers 1:18) and as Rashi explains, “Each one of them brought their family trees and their birth certificates to prove their relationship to their tribes.”

Once the quantity of Jewish souls is known, once each person has been attended to as an individual, the people, as a nation of 12 tribes, are treated as a whole with a particular structure that joins them together. Concentrating on them as a nation, the twelve tribes are ordered and organized into four camps in a particular manner around the Tabernacle, with one camp (of 3 tribes) lying in each direction. Each tribe has its own flag in a specific color with a particular banner, and the full structure reveals the manifold relationship between them all. The number of each tribe is mentioned once more, while describing the structure, but this time it is an intrinsic part of a complete tapestry.

Given this differentiation between quantity and form, the census can be compared to the “Act of Creation” – facilitating the essential existence of each and every person in the Jewish nation, each one and his birthright. In contrast, the form, the camp structure around the Tabernacle can be compared to “the Act of the Chariot” (which literally translates as, “The act of construction”), revealing the complexity of the myriad relationships between the individuals and between their tribes.

Counting letters and drawing figurate numbers

This two stage process—from quantity to form—is reflected in our method of contemplating the Torah. The earliest Torah scholars were called ??????, usually translated as “scribes,” but also meaning, “counters.” They were described in this manner because they counted the letters of the Torah. Today, we too first carefully count the letters in a given verse or section of the Torah. The act of careful counting gives us a chance to treat each letter as an individual point of revelation, like a precious stone (in fact, the letters of the Torah are designated as “stones” in Sefer Yetzirah).

Once we know the number of letters, we continue our study by contemplating what particular form, what particular figure, that particular number of letters can be arranged in. The forms we consider are known as “figurate numbers.” These geometric figures with symmetry that have a particular number of components. We then arrange the letters of the text we are studying into the particular figurate number found.

For example, when we count them, we find that the Torah’s first verse (??????????? ?????? ????????? ??? ??????????? ????? ???????) has 28 letters. The form that suits 28 letters is that of a triangle, particularly what is called the triangle of 7. We then proceed to arrange the 28 letters of the Torah’s first verse into the structure of the triangle of 7. Once the letters have been ordered in this form, the structure itself can be studied, thereby revealing many new insights into the meaning of the verse.

The Gift of the Camp at Mt. Sinai

The Torah portion of Bamidbar is read on a Shabbat that is close to the festival of Shavu’ot, when we celebrate God’s giving us the Torah. Indeed, the sages associate the organization of the Jewish camp in the wilderness to the revelation atMt.Sinai, which took place almost a year beforehand,

When God revealed Himself at Mt.Sinai, 22,000 angels descended with Him…. The angels were ordered under different flags…. When the Jewish people saw the angels ordered under their different flags, they began to desire flags for themselves, saying, “We wish we could have flags like them.” God said to them, ‘Since you desire to be under flags, I swear that I will fulfill your wish… then God informed the Jewish nation and told Moses, “Go and make them flags as they desire” (Bamidbar Rabbah).

God’s giving us the Torah generated the correct structure within the nation. While at Mt. Sinai the mountain was in the center and all the nation was around it, once the Tabernacle was constructed and the Divine Presence that was revealed at Mt. Sinai was drawn into it, the whole camp organized itself around the Tabernacle, “Each individual unto his flag…, facing and surrounding the Tent of Meeting shall they camp.” Mt.Sinaiand the Tabernacle were the two central points around which the camp was organized.

From Sons to Builders

There is a well known phrase by the sages that,

Torah scholars increase peace in the world, as the verse states, “All your children shall be God’s students, and abundant shall be your children’s peace.” The sages say: Do not read this as, “banayich” – your children, rather read it as “bonayich” – your builders.

AtMt.Sinaievery Jew became “God’s student,” a Torah scholar who learns Torah from God’s own mouth; they therefore also became builders. From this perspective, it now became fitting that they should be assembled together in an orderly structure like the angels and perhaps even more so than angels, since Jewish souls have a higher root even than angels.

At the exodus fromEgypt, our status as God’s children became manifest, and God called us, “My firstborn son,Israel.” As God’s beloved children, He counts us at every opportunity and each one of us is like an only son. But from the moment that God gave us the Torah, we are no longer simply children, having become a nation of Torah scholars, we are now also builders who, in addition to being beloved children, each of whom is singled out, we are also given the privilege of a specially ordered structure. The central point of that structure is the Tabernacle, which is the manifestation of Divine revelation and also of the Torah (the two tablets of the covenant were kept in the Holy Ark of the Tabernacle) and around it the Jewish nation was ordered according to their flags and camps.

Another version of the abovementioned saying regarding the angels seen during the giving of the Torah appears as an interpretation of the verse in Song of Songs, “He brought me to the winery and his flag upon me was love”

Rabbi Yehoshuah of Sachnin said in the name of Rabbi Levi, “The nation of Israel said: God brought me to a large wine cellar, which is Sinai, where I saw the angel Michael and his flag and the angel Gabriel and his flag and my eyes saw the ceremonies of above and I loved them. At that moment, God said to Moses, ‘Since My children desire to camp under flags, they shall camp under flags.’ This is what it means when it says, ‘Each individual unto his flag with the banner....’” (Shir Hashirim Rabbah).

Referring to this verse, the Zohar states, “Rabbi Elazar began, ‘Rejoice withJerusalemand exult in her all those who love her, etc.’ Since joy is only available at times when the Jewish nation is in theHoly land.” This interpretation of the verse in the Torah portion of Bamidbar indicates that the camp ofIsraelin the wilderness, the rectified structure of the Jewish nation “around the Tent of Meeting,” had the sanctity of theLandofIsrael,Jerusalemand theHolyTemple, all of which are places of joy.

Consequently we can learn from this that today, in the Land of Israel, in order to merit the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the Holy Temple, we must reconstruct the camps of the wilderness. This can be achieved by recreating proper order amongst Jews, including ceremonies and flags that express our uniqueness as God’s nation and our desire to be similar to the Divine Chariot , thereby meriting the return of the Divine Presence amongst us, “as comely asJerusalem, as awesome as the bannered regions.”

from Rabbi Ginsburgh’s class, Sivan 1, 5772

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