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In the Wilderness

On the first day of the second month, in the second year following the exodus from the land of Egypt, the Eternal One spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the Tent of Meeting, saying: "Take a census of the whole Israelite company…" - Numbers 1:1-2

  • God commands Moses to take a census of all the Israelite males over the age of twenty. (1:1-46)
  • The duties of the Levites, who are not included in the census, are detailed. (1:47-51)
  • Each tribe is assigned specific places in the camp around the Tabernacle. (1:52-2:34)
  • The sons of Levi are counted and their responsibilities are set forth. (3:1-3:39)
  • A census of the firstborn males is taken and a special redemption tax is levied on them. (3:40-51)
  • God instructs Moses and Aaron regarding the responsibilities of Aaron and his sons, and the duties assigned to the Kohathites. (4:1-20)

When do we read B'midbar?

2015 May 23 /5 Sivan, 5775
2016 Jun 11 /5 Sivan, 5776
2017 May 27 /2 Sivan, 5777


  • By Philip “Flip” Rice

    "[I will] lead her to the wilderness . . ." (Hosea 2:16)

    Few places lend themselves to personal growth as well as the wilderness. Whether you conceive of it as a desert or a forest, a mirage or an oasis, a wilderness is a place of nature and a refuge from the world. It is in the wilderness where our ancestors encountered God and where Torah, their stories, were revealed. As we count down these days toward the holiday of Shavuot, our Torah portion this week invites us to join Jews worldwide as we enter the backwoods. Called "Numbers" in English, the Hebrew title of this book of Torah, B'midbar, is translated as and takes place "In the Wilderness." Political scientist Robert Maclver writes, "The healthy being craves an occasional wilderness, a jolt from normality, a sharpening of the edge of appetite, his own little festival of Saturnalia, a brief excursion from his way of life."1

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