Parshas Bamidbar

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By Rabbi Shloimie Lindenbaum

אך את מטה לוי לא תפקד וגו’ בתוך בני ישראל (פרק א פסוק מט)

Hashem commands Moshe to count the entire Jewish nation but specifies that Levi should have their own separate counting. This is reiterated two more times, emphasizing that the Levites should not be included in the general census. Rashi explains that the reason for their separation is because there would be a decree in the future that everyone above 20 who was included in the count would need to die in the desert and Hashem did not want Levi to be included in that. The Medrash clarifies that even though Levi would not sin together with the rest of the Jews, had they been counted with them, they would have died with them. R’ Chaim Shmulevitz sees from here that there is a unique power to a כלל, a group. When one is part of a group, they are included with them for good or for bad, even if they did not act in the same way as the rest of the group. He explains this concept; a group is considered a new entity unto itself, not just many people together. Therefore, decisions about the group apply to the entire entity. By the Leviim we find that their inclusion would have been detrimental, but we find this concept in a positive way as well. Before we received the Torah it says, “And he, Yisroel, camped opposite the mountain”. Rashi comments that the singular description of Yisroel is because at that point we were as “one man with one heart”. The Ohr Hachaim explains that this was a necessary step before receiving the Torah. We needed to unite as one nation, with complete solidarity, to turn into one entity of Yisroel, to receive the Torah. Only through that total unity were we able to accept the yoke of Torah on ourselves, and only with that unity can we continue to keep it.

מגילת רות

Many reasons are given as to why Megillas Rus is read on Shavuos. The שערי תשובה says it is because Dovid was born and died on Shavuos, and Megillas Rus details his lineage. The מגן אברהם says that it is to teach us that the way in which to truly acquire Torah is through difficulty. R’ Elya Boruch Finkel expounds on the מגן אברהם; we see that Rus had a very difficult life. She left her royal life in Moav to live in poverty amongst a foreign nation. She had little hope for getting married again, because the law that permitted her to convert was mostly unknown. All these difficulties, however, ended up fading away, she married Boaz, a great Torah scholar, and eventually lived to see her descendants reign as kings over the Jewish nation. This reminds us that while the beginning of observing and learning the Torah may be difficult, through persevering we can merit true greatness and closeness to Hashem.


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