I was mistaken last week when I said CHU"L had caught up with Eretz Yisrael. There will still be a few more weeks until we are caught up. In the meantime, click here for a Dvar Torah for Parshas Bechukosai.
Parshas Bamidbar begins the portion of the Torah when we follow Bnei Yisrael through the desert on their journey to Eretz Yisrael. So many of our favorite Torah stories are found in the next few parshiyos, but before we get to those, this week’s parsha begins discusses the traveling process.
The parsha begins with the appointment of the Nesi’im, the leaders of each tribe. These men represented their respective tribes to Moshe, and by extension, Hashem, for any necessary tasks. The first task is the next idea listed in the parsha, a census of the nation. Rashi at the beginning of the parsha explains that like a man with a precious object, Hashem was constantly counting Bnei Yisrael because they were (and are) so special to him. Any excuse He had, He would make a census. In this case, the excuse was the inauguration of the Mishkan and resting His Shechinah among the People.
While counting the nation, Hashem instructed Moshe to save the counting of Shevet Levi for later and not to count them together with the rest of the nation. This was in recognition of their special status as Kohanim and Leviim, the ones with the most access to Hashem through their responsibilities in the Mishkan, and later on in the Beis Hamikdash. While the rest of the nation was counted only from the age of twenty, Shevet Levi was counted starting from a month old. Even with this ‘advantage,’ they still only numbered 22,000 people; much less than even the smallest tribe.
The parsha ends with the Leviim’s responsibilities of transporting the Mishkan. There were three families of Leviim: Gershon, Kehas, and Merari. Each family was responsible for transporting a different part of the Mishkan. This week’s parsha discusses Kehas’ responsibilities. They were in charge of moving all the special utensils, namely, the Aron, Shulchan, Menorah, both Mizbe’achs, and all the utensils that were used together with them.
The pesukim go into detail as to how they were prepared for travel; the Ramban explains these different requirements and how they were specific to each special piece.
The Aron was first covered by the Paroches, the curtain that separated the Kodesh Hakedoshim, the room that housed the Aron, from the rest of the Mishkan. Then, a covering of Tachash skin was placed over that. Finally, a cloth made of blue wool was placed over it, and the Aron was ready for traveling. The Paroches was used to make sure the Aron was continually kept out of sight from everyone. (The only person who could look at the Aron was the Kohen Gadol, and then, only on Yom Kippur.) The Tachash skin was used as protection from the rain. And while Tachash skin was used as the outer layer for the other utensils, the extreme holiness of the Aron called for a more honorable outer cover; in this case, a blue cloth was used to remind all onlookers of the holy and pure heavens.
The Lechem HaPanim, the Show Bread was kept on the Shulchan at all times, even during travel. The other utensils used in conjunction with the Shulchan were also kept together with it during travel. The table with the bread was first covered with a layer of blue woolen cloth; the utensils were placed on top of this cloth and covered by a red woolen sheet which was then covered by the Tachash skin. Because of the holiness and importance of the bread, they were kept separate from the other utensils. Once again, blue was used to signify its’ holiness. The utensils were then covered by a red cloth to signify kingship, since the Shulchan represented Hashem’s rule over the world.
The Menorah and the Golden Mizbe’ach were also covered with blue cloth under the Tachash skin. Finally, the Copper Mizbe’ach was covered with a purple cloth, a deeper shade than the Shulchan’s, to symbolize the blood of the many korbanos that were brought on it, which granted forgiveness to Bnei Yisrael.
Don't forget to check out hashkafahandbook.com to learn about my book,Reality Check. And Like it on Facebook.
For any questions, comments, or to subscribe to our email list, please email is at AIMeMtorah@gmail.com.
Check out our other AIMeMTorah project, Nation's Wisdom!