"And they gathered the entire nation on the first of the second month, according to
the number of the names." Numbers 1:18
Yahveh commanded Moses to take a census of the Children of Israel by counting the "number of the names."
The Rabbis explain the meaning of counting the names: "Yahveh told Moses: Count each and every person with honor and
dignity. Do not merely ask the head of each household how many children he has. Rather, everyone should pass before you with
honor, and you should count them." The people of Israel deserved to be counted in person by Moses.
The purpose of the census was a practical one: to ascertain the total population of Israel. The most efficient
method would be to ask the head of each household for data regarding his family. Having Moses personally count each person
was not only very inefficient, but also extremely laborious and tiresome considering the numbers involved. Why did Yahveh
trouble Moses to exert himself to such an extent? Had Moses asked the representative of each household for a tally of his
family, the result would have been the same. Yahveh was teaching Moses and the Children of Israel the value and uniqueness
of each and every person. No one can be treated as a mere number, even when he is being counted for a census. Moses had to
meet each member and show him the honor and respect he deserved.
When dealing with a group of people, be it ten or ten thousand, we must remember that it is comprised of
individuals. Each person deserves our personal attention, and should not be looked upon as just a number. Sometimes just spending
a few moments with another person can do a great deal to raise his spirits and carry him through the rigors of his daily schedule.
If we bear in mind the overwhelming love and concern Yahveh has for each of His children, we will surely feel a natural desire
to follow His example.