Which Laws of Life?
Posted on May 20, 2015
This week we read the portion of Bamidbar, first in the book of Numbers, which is given its name by the census that occupies a good part of the beginning of the Torah portion. Superficially it’s just a listing of names and numbers and not a very interesting text for study or inspiration. But it also teaches us a primary lesson: that every human being counts in God’s eyes—and should similarly count in our eyes, as well.
There is an unusual phrase in the beginning of the portion. The survey is to be taken of the entire nation, and b’mispar sheimot, “by the numbering of names.” In other words, even though by definition a census is an accounting, a totaling of sums, each individual is to be accounted for not by number but by name. Each person has a unique identity, a human face. Each is an image of God.