The Kingdom of Torah

Sivan 5, 5783
May 25, 2023
Candlelighting Time 7:58 PM

            The Torah mentions that the census took place in the desert. Of course, this is rather obvious since that’s where they were. But besides that, what was the significance that it took place there? The Midrash comments that the Torah was given with three things, fire, water and in the desert. The importance of these three items is that they are plentiful and therefore free for the taking. Water is usually in abundance; fire is relatively easy to create and entrance to the desert is without any barriers. So too Torah is free to study and absorb. Furthermore, the desert is forsaken and vacant. Besides that we need a deeper understanding of the Midrash, how does this all relate to the census that seems to be the main discussion of the parsha? 

            Rashi explains that since Hashem was poised to ‘descend’ and station the Divine Presence in our midst, therefore there was a need to count the populace. This is another enigma, why counting the population relates to the Hashem’s Presence residing with us? Nachmonides explains that during our receiving of the Torah, Hashem ‘appeared’ at the mountain top with myriads of angels. The Mishkan, and specifically the enclosed area where the Golden Altar, the Menorah, the Table upon which the showbread was placed and the inner sanctum where the Aron was, in reality contained the Presence in a hidden venue. And that Divine manifestation was a veiled display of Torah such as was exhibited at Mt. Sinai. The census was truthfully our connection to that Torah presence that existed in the Mishkan which was placed in our midst, by virtue of the fact that each individual member of the nation was counted to and referred to by name.

            When we received the Torah, we were transformed into a Kingdom of Priests as the Torah states in Parshas Yisro. The commentators understand that the Torah is denoting us as a nation analogous to royalty. True royalty is defined as boundless authority and supremacy. We merited that plateau of sanctity at Mt. Sinai and its ongoing inspiration upon us throughout the tenure of the Mishkan during our sojourn in the desert and for hundreds of years afterwards in the Land of Israel. We attained kingship through Torah and therefore with Torah we have the capacity to elevate ourselves beyond the shackles of time and space since we are not restricted by the physical limitations of this world. That is why they heard what is normally seem and saw that which is typically heard at Mt. Sinai! The corporeal senses were subjugated at that time by the spiritual essence of each person and they were keenly attuned to the declaration of the Ten Commandments on a level beyond the ordinary human experience.          

            The concept that Torah is free and unfettered conveys that it isn‘t constrained, intimating the  absolute and dominant sovereignty contained within it. Therefore, it was in that ambiance that the census focusing upon the capacity of each and every individual was performed. Additionally, the desert is an uncontrolled and uninhibited expanse alluding to Torah’s unparalleled vastness and enormity due to its source, Hashem. On Shavuos, we can capture that gift from Hashem as we actually recreate and re-experience that incredibly indelible encounter each and every year!      


When we received the Torah, Moshe conveyed it to us and was the middleman. Shavuos night we strain ourselves to stay up despite that we are weary because when we attain that level of dedication, we approach the greatness of Moshe and therefore we can merit Torah.                             S’FAS EMES