July 23, 2024
Parashat Bamidbar 5784

When you Choose Shabbat, you choose to learn that every Shabbat is different and special. Last week I learned about Parashat Bamidbar (בַּמִּדְבָּר), the 34th weekly Torah portion in the annual cycle of Torah readings.

According to Wikipedia, Bamidbar (בַּמִּדְבָּר), Numbers 1:1 to 4:20, contains 7,393 Hebrew letters, 1,823 words, 159 verses and makes up 263 lines of the Torah scroll. Bamidbar is an accountant’s delight, containing a detailed census of all 603,550 Israelite men age 20 years and older, broken down by headcount as well as affiliation with each of the twelve Tribes of Israel.

Rabbi Michael D Klein of Temple Torat Emet offers his insights on this week’s Torah reading, Bamidbar for Shabbat, June 8, 2024 aka 2 Sivan 5784:

“One of my favorite expressions about life is “get your ducks in a row”. We live next to a lake, and we watch the ducks every day, especially when they have babies, swimming and marching in a straight line. This Shabbat, Moses gives the 12 Tribes the same directions. Organize yourselves as you prepare for the challenges that lie ahead in the march toward Eretz Yisroel through the harsh conditions that you will encounter. G-d will provide for your basic survival requirements with water and manna, but you must be ever vigilant against the possibility of attack and hostile encounters from the nations whose lands you will traverse. You will have trumpets (shofrot) which will signal the tribes far and wide to muster in the event of war. Each tribe will have a flag, symbolic of your future and past roles, in assuring the survival of the nation. At the center, as you march forward, will be the Ark of the Covenant containing the Tablets of the Ten Commandments given to you at Sinai and the Holy of Holies representing G-d’s guiding presence wherever you march.

In our lives, there are times when we must be mindful of preparations that need to be made for upcoming events we can anticipate and even for those that may occur serendipitously. We realize, like the mama duck, to protect ourselves and our families, we must be organized and prepared for any eventuality. Unfortunately, life is not always fair or happy, and we must try to anticipate and fortify ourselves physically and spiritually for what may lie ahead. The flag we raise represents who we are, and wish to become, so we must choose it wisely and represent it with care and pride by our words and deeds. As we plan and organize, we must include G-d in our plans for the future just as G-d has included us, by giving us the Torah and Mitzvot as our personal guide. Our plan book must always emphasize the Laws of Torah as our center, so that our spiritual ducks line up with G-d’s plan book for us and lead to a happy and fulfilling life.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How does this Sedra align with the Holiday of Shavuot?
  2. Why does the Torah include 2 separate words (Shevet/Mateh) to describe each tribe?
  3. What was the head of each tribe called and why?
  4. Which tribal flag contained all of the colors of the other tribes? Why?


Rabbi Michael D. Klein

Rabbi Michael D. Klein attended Yeshiva College of South Florida and served as Torah Reader, Hebrew teacher, Chazzan and spiritual leader of various synagogues throughout South Florida. In January 2015 he became Ritual Director, Bnai/Bnot Mitzvah instructor and 7th grade Hebrew instructor for Temple Torat Emet of Boynton Beach. In October 2019 he was accepted into an accelerated track and received his shicha from Yeshiva Adath Wolkowisk and has been the Rabbinic leadership of Temple Torat Emet since August 2020. In September of 2022 he was appointed Rabbinic and Spiritual Advisor of the Florida Region of FJMC.

Choose Shabbat; choose to celebrate, to light candles, sing songs and learn a little Torah.

This moment of Jewish Learning is brought to you by the Florida Region of the Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs (FJMC). We are part of a confederation of over 200 Jewish Men’s Clubs and Brotherhoods representing over 20,000 members across the United States, Canada, Latin America, and beyond. Learn more about how your Jewish Men’s Club or Brotherhood can affiliate with the FJMC at: https://fjmc.org/for-clubs/affiliating-with-the-fjmc/.

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