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Parashat Bamidbar

Parashat Bamidbar

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Published by: Harav Michael Elkohen on May 24, 2012
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Rabbi Yaakov Hillel
 Rosh Yeshivat Ahavat Shalom
 Parashat Bamidbar 
 Bringing the
“And Hashem spoke to Moshe in the Sinai desert in the Tent of Meeting on thefirst day of the second month in the second year after their exodus from Egypt,saying, count the entire community of the Children of Israel by their families,according to their fathers’ households, by the number of the names of every maleaccording to their head count” (
1:1-2).Rashi explains the significance of this census.“Because of His love for them He counted them at all times. When they leftEgypt He counted them, and when they died at the [Golden] Calf He counted them,to know how many were left. When He came to rest His Presence on them Hecounted them. On the first of Nisan the Tabernacle was erected, and on the first onIyar He counted them.” Why did Hashem count the Jewish people time and time again? Why were they counted specifically in preparation for having the Divine Presence (
) restin their midst?
Greater Presence
 Pirke Avot
 we find a connection between the number of Jews gatheredtogether and the presence of the
(3:6).“Rabbi Halafta ben Dosa of Kfar Hananyah says, ten who sit and engage inTorah, the Divine Presence dwells among them, as it says, ‘G-d stands in the Divinecongregation’ (
How do we know that this is so even of five? As itsays, ‘And His group is founded on earth’ (
9:6). And how do we know that this
is so even of three? As it says, ‘He will judge in the midst of judges’ (
82:1).How do we know that this is so even of two? As it says, ‘Then those who fear G-dspoke to one another, and G-d listened and heard’ (
3:16). How do we know that this is so even of one? As it says, ‘In every place where My Name is mentioned I will come to you and bless you’” (
20:21). We learn from this
that the
rests upon those who engage inTorah study, and that the more people are learning together, the greater thepresence of the
in their midst. This is surprising; don’t we know that G-dis everywhere? “The whole world is filled with His glory” (
6:3), and “AndHis Presence is everywhere” (
Tikune Zohar 
122b). And yet, the
says thatthe
is found specifically with those who are learning, and that an increasein the number of those learning brings about a greater level of revelation of the
 Levels of Sanctity
How can there be gradations or levels of the Divine Presence? We find the concept of different levels of sanctity in the laws of ritual purity andimpurity. Our Sages tell us that there are ten levels of sanctity.
 Eretz Yisrael
is on ahigher level than all other lands. Cities in
 Eretz Yisrael
surrounded by a wall are on ahigher level of sanctity than the rest of the Land; the area inside the wall surrounding Jerusalem is on a higher level still; and the Temple Mount is even more sanctified.The
goes on to list increasingly higher levels of sanctity, concluding withthe Holy of Holies at the highest level of all (
 Mishnayot Kelim
1:6-8). Clearly, theselevels of sanctity are related to the level at which the
resides in eachplace.Even in our times, when we no longer have the
 Bet Hamikdash
and are in exileamong the nations, the concept of different levels of sanctity still exists. Forexample, a
 bet midrash
where Torah is studied has greater sanctity than asynagogue used exclusively for prayer (see
26b, 27a).
Sanctified Locations
Let us try to understand more about this complex topic.It is Hashem’s Will to rest His
in the lower world and in the midst of the Jewish people. We find this principle frequently in the Torah. For example:
“And I will place My Sanctuary among you” (
“And they will make for Me a Sanctuary and I will dwell in their midst”(
“For Hashem chose Zion, He desired it as His dwelling place”(
“The foundation of Your dwelling place You have made, Hashem”(
15:17). As we learn from the
, the greater the spiritual standing of alocation, the greater the Divine revelation in that location will be, with thousands of possible levels. There is no doubt that “the whole world is filled with His glory”(
6:3), but the revelation in the world as a whole is at a low, generalizedlevel. The Holy of Holies, the most sacred place on earth, is the site of the greatestdegree of revelation. The level decreases progressively from the
 Bet HaMikdash
to Jerusalem to
 Eretz Yisrael
to the rest of the world.The more elevated form of Divine revelation, related to the higher spiritual worlds,is called
 Kudsha Brich Hu
. The lowest level, related to our physical world, is called
,” from the root of the word
, to dwell. The
is therevelation of G-d which dwells among us on earth,
as we find in the verse, “And they  will make for Me a Sanctuary, and I will dwell (
) in their midst” (
25:8). In the
 L’shem Yihud
prayer recited before fulfilling a
, we say “For theunification of 
 Kudsha Brich Hu
and the
.” These are not two separateentities, G-d forbid; “Hashem is One and His Name is One” (
14:9), in themost simple sense of the words. The use of more than one term indicates that theinnumerable levels at which Hashem reveals Himself are all truly One. When we say 
 L’Shem Yihud
, we declare our complete belief that all levels of Hashem’s revelationare One.
 Bringing the Shechinah Close
 Just as the level of revelation varies in keeping with the sanctity of the location, italso varies in keeping with the number of Jews present. Our Sages tell us,“Everywhere where there are ten people, the
rests” (
39a). Thepresence of the
can be intensified and raised to a higher level, dependingon how many people have gathered together to pray or do
. The greater thenumber, the greater the revelation of the
grows, because “a smallnumber of people who fulfill the Torah is not the same as a large number of people
 who fulfill the Torah” (Rashi on
26:8). In addition, in keeping with man’s
See Responsa
 Rav Pe'alim
1, end of p. 2b and Responsa
 Nodah B’Yehudah Tanyana
Orah Hayyim

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