July 23, 2024 ~ Sh PINEHAS. M SABA.

Shabbat Bemidbar - שבת במדבר


Know Your Position

ואיש על דגלו לצבאתם - Traveling in a wilderness is no easy task. After the exodus from Egypt, Moses has the hard task of leading the Israelites through the desert and into the Promised Land. In order to successfully mobilize, God says that the people need to be organized; each person in their respective proper position (ואיש על דגלו לצבאתם). For example, the Levites have the position adjacent to the Tabernacle handling its holy utensils. The Torah (Numbers 1:51), in a stark warning against overstepping ones boundaries, warns that this task is specific to the Levites and that any non-Levite "stranger" who tries to overstep their bounds and perform Levite tasks "shall die" (והזר הקרב יומת). In our community, each person is very unique and has a specific role. In order for us to mobilize and reach our final destination as a community, each individual must find their own position and play their role for the benefit of the greater good. Beth Torah Bulletin, May 19, 2018.


מנגד סביב לאהל מועד יחנו - A major theme in the Book of Numbers is maintaining peace and unity despite the many differences that existed among the people. When Israel journeyed through the wilderness, the camp was organized by flags (דגלים). Each of these flags represented different groups of people with different backgrounds, values, and ideals. At the center of all four camps, however, was the one unifying factor: the Tabernacle. For all intents and purposes, the nation originated with great divisions. This book, however, comes to illustrate that when it came to their recognition of God, commitment to the Torah, and the sanctity of the Tabernacle, each person put their differences aside and agreed to join hands and work together. This sense of unity has turned a lowly group of former slaves into a very proud nation that continues to exist more than 3,329 years later. Beth Torah Bulletin, May 27, 2017.

Excluding Aharon

אשר פקד משה ואהרן - Throughout the Masoretic Text of the Torah, there are ten places where dots are placed above words. In Numbers 3:39, a dot is placed on each letter of the word 'VeAharon' (ואהרן). Perhaps they were placed to show doubt about the presence of this word? It must be noted that in variant non-Masoretic texts of Numbers 3:39, such as the Samaritan, Syriac, and Coptic versions, the word 'VeAharon' is absent. It should also be noted that in all other instances of counting throughout this chapter (3:5, 3:11, 3:40, 3:44, 3:51), it is only Moses counting and not both Moses and Aharon. Rabbinic commentaries, aware of these mysterious dots, offer various explanations. According to Rashi (1040-1105), the dots come to exclude Aharon HaKohen from being counted among the Levites even though he is descended from this family. This is because his role is so unique that it is not befitting to count him as an ordinary member of the Levite clan. Tiqqun Highlights, Beth Torah Bulletin, June 8, 2019.


וְאֵ֛לֶּה תּוֹלְדֹ֥ת אַהֲרֹ֖ן וּמֹשֶׁ֑ה - Having completed the marching positions of the other tribes, Numbers 3:1 opens with "These are the descendants of Aharon and Moshe" in order to focus on the roles of the Levites. Why does the text say that the descendants of Aharon and Moshe are to be discussed, but then only mentions the children of Aharon? Some suggest that the children of Moses are omitted due to their possible linkage in the future to building a Golden Calf in the northern region of Dan (Judges 18:30). Not discussing that aspect of the question though, Rashi, citing the Talmud (TB Sanhedrin 19b), takes the opportunity to teach that Moses is given credit for being a father to Aharon's children, because he is their teacher. From this, the Talmud learns that whoever teaches the Torah to the son of his fellow man, it is as if he had begotten him. This teaching expands the definition of a father to include those individuals, such as teachers or mentors, who make a significant contribution in ones upbringing. Beth Torah Bulletin, May 23, 2020.

Maqam of the Week: HOSENI

On Shabbat Kallah, the Shabbat prior to Shabuot, Maqam HOSENI, which is described as 'a high Bayat,' is applied. When "Bemidbar" (Numbers 1:1- 4:20) is not linked to Shabbat Kallah, RAST is applied, because this is the first perasha of Sefer Bemidbar. Maqam Hoseni is related to Shabuot, because it is when we receive the Torah. Since the Torah is of great 'beauty', Hoseni, the maqam that means "beauty" in Arabic, is applied. Maqam Hoseni is also used for the ta'amim of Megillat Ruth. HAZZANUT: Semehim: Azharot, Naqdishakh: Da’at UmZima (page 334).