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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?

2014 May 24 /24 Iyyar, 5774
2015 May 23 /5 Sivan, 5775
2016 Jun 11 /5 Sivan, 5776


  • By Lisa Edwards

    This week brings us Yom Y'rushalayim (May 8 / 28 Iyar), one of several Jewish holidays commemorating events of war in the modern State of Israel. This one recalls Israel's "recovery" of the Old City of Jerusalem during the Six Day War in 1967. Despite these modern holidays, or the always popular Israeli postcards of handsome young men and women in uniform, it seems safe to say that we Jews generally don't think of ourselves as a military people.

    Yet the coming together of Yom Y'rushalayim with our annual reading of the opening portion of the Book of Numbers, beginning with a census of all Israelite men "from the age of twenty years up, all those in Israel who are able to bear arms" (Numbers 1:3), might give us pause to question our assumption. In fact, from Abraham onward in Torah we find ourselves often embattled, and the fighting continues beyond Deuteronomy and into other books of Tanach as well.

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