|Questions and Concepts for Bamidbar
(Numbers 1:1 - 4:20)
- Parsha Bamidbar is read on the Shabbat before Shavuot, the Feast that
celebrates the giving of the Torah. Shavuot is called the "wedding of Israel to
God" and thus the days leading up to it are preparation for the great event. From the
time they left Egypt to today's Parsha there were three census taken of the Israelites.
The first was on their departure from Egypt, the second prior to building the Tabernacle
and the third following this event.
- How did these three events correspond to the stages of God's revelation to them? How did
their level of involvmenet go from being completely passive (God's grace only) to one of
both grace and merit? How did the involvement of Aaron in the last census (only) reflect
this change from revelation solely from "above to below" to one of connecting
from "below to above?" How did this "spiritual evolution" relate to
the people being prepared to receive the Torah that God gave on Shavuot?
- In the middle of the Israelite encampment were the Levites and the
sanctuary. Surrounding this center were the 12 Tribes. The image of the Israelite camp is
like a wheel with many spokes all leading to one hub. The tribes had a specific order and
method of movement.
- How did everyone "knowing their place" foster harmony among the
people? What is the correlation between such harmony and spiritual preparedness to receive
- How did this arrangement teach "Godly" humiltity? What is the
relationship between such humility and advancing spiritually "toward God?" What
does such spiritual advancement teach us about our own limitations?
- Consider this concept:
Bamidbar means, "In the desert," and is read before the holiday of Shavuot
when the Torah was given on Mount Sinai. The celebration of Biblical Feast days does not
merely commemorate events of the past, but also provide an opportunity to relive them. To
relive the Sinai experience (and the idea of spiritual growth), we must often first have
to pass through our own "spiritual desert" and its lessons. How does this relate
to passages such as Romans 5:3-5 and Hebrews 12:3-11?
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