"These are the counting of the Children of Israel according to their fathers' households.
Six hundred three thousand five hundred and fifty." Numbers 2:32
This unusual name for the Book of Numbers is used to describe the process of counting the
people of Israel. The Rabbis explain that because we are so dear to Yahveh, He counts us many times. He counted
us when we left Egypt. He counted us when He gave instructions to build the Tabernacle, after the sin of the Golden Calf (Exodus
38:26), then, six months later, when His Shechinah (Divine Presence) came to rest in it. The number of Israelites between
the second and third counting was exactly the same, 603,550. The only difference was that in the second count, the tribe of
Levi was included, and in the third count they were not included. This means that in the six months between the two counting,
the nation grew exactly in the number of Levi. There is an important message here. The third counting of males from the age
of twenty and up was described as "everyone who goes out in the army of Israel." At the time of the third counting, the tribe
of Levi was singled out for service in the Tabernacle and were not to be counted amongst those that serve in the army.
One might have thought that the sum total of Israelites wold be reduced by the size of the tribe of Levi,
since they were included in the second count and not included in the third count. So Yahveh commanded us to count and see
that the number remained the same, to teach us that to exclude the tribe of Levi from army service and place them in Holy
service did not detract from the number of the army. Israel was not weakened in any way by exempting the tribe of Levi from
Today, people who dedicate themselves exclusively to Torah study are considered like the tribe of Levi.
May you study and grow in Torah and in the fear of Yahveh.