Sivan 4, 5782
June 3, 2022
Candlelighting Time 8:05 PM

The Torah in this week’s parsha invests heavily in counting the number of men above the age of twenty years old. It would seem that the nation is poised to enter into the Land of Israel and to battle the nations that live there. We needed to know how many men would be capable of waging war against the incumbents. Netziv postulates that the nation in the desert was compared to a king traveling with his armed entourage showing his honor and distinction to all. So too, we merited that the Divine Presence escorted us out of the Egyptian bondage and continued to lead us in our sojourn through the desert. 

However, it is interesting and important to note how the Torah defines the nature of this census. Every individual was counted by his name. It would not seem that the armed forces would need to know the name of each soldier. Nor would the king have to recognize each and every soldier in his accompanying party. So, why was it necessary to mention each individual name? 

Sforno explains that the Torah was teaching us the incredible significance of each person in the nation. Their prominence was such that due to their magnitude the people would have merited entry into Israel without ‘firing a shot.’ Their level of sanctity would have terrified the Canaanite nations into immediate submission. They would have seized control of the land and immediately would have begun to harness its potential. However, that opportunity was lost on account of the Golden Calf debacle. They remained in the desert for a long 40-year sojourn and then they had to spend years battling the incumbent nations. This is the unfortunate reality of sin!

Rabbeinu Bachya takes this theme of the Sforno to another level. He comments that the number of men that were present at Mt. Sinai when the Torah was given equaled the number of angels that accompanied Hashem when He/the Divine Presence appeared. And this was not a random occurrence, it was indicative of the stature of the nation at that time. We actually had reached an angelic state and resembled the divine eminence of the Heavens. Therefore, the four sides of the camp, which was maintained when they traveled, mirrored the ‘camps’ of the angels in their respective positions Above. 

King David wrote in Tehillim that Hashem ‘anticipated’ that at Mt. Sinai they would indeed reach great heights rivaling that of Adam before he sinned, and the creation would come to its fulfillment. However, that ‘dream’ remained unfulfilled, and we continue to strive to always upgrade our lives and enhance them.

The days to Shavuos are limited and time to prepare for this auspicious time is quickly witling down. This Yom Tov can be very challenging as many of us remain awake the entire first night studying Torah and davening as the rays of the sun penetrate. Although we are tired, we enjoy and appreciate the freshness of Torah that has illuminated our lives that night and every day. When we realize the plateau of greatness that our forebears accomplished at this time, it gives us the impetus to emulate them and also aspire to intensify our dedication attain those majestic heights. 


When asked if we wanted to accept the Torah, the nation responded we will adhere to the Torah and follow in Its ways. Their reply paralleled that of the angels and created a new reality for the nation.