Weekly Torah portion: Bamidbar | San Diego Jewish World

Posted on 25 May 2017.

What plus Why Is Unstoppable!

By Rabbi Yaakov Marks

Rabbi Yaakov Marks

SAN DIEGO — “And G-d spoke to Moshe and Aaron, saying: Each man under his flag with the signs according to the house of their fathers they will camp, at a distance and around the Tabernacle they will camp.” (Numbers 2:1-2) The Midrash Rabbah (Numbers 2:7) is concerned that the phrase “… according to their father’s house” is redundant. It had already stated, “under his flag” therefore each person knew where to gather – why the repetition?

To answer this, the Midrash presents a conversation between G-d and Moshe. When G-d told Moshe to set up the positions of the encampment and tell each tribe where their positions around the Tabernacle would be, Moshe became very worried that the tribes would start arguing with him and with each other. If he gave one tribe a position in front and another in the back, they would be upset, demanding a different position.

Moshe had a valid claim as we see from Korach. Korach was one of the most learned men, had the privilege to be a Levite, was very well-respected, extremely wealthy, and held a high-ranking position in his family. Even with all of these gifts, when Moshe appointed Aharon and Elizaphan to a position which he coveted, he became upset, argued with Moshe, and initiated a major rebellion which ended with the death of himself and many people.

G-d told Moshe not to worry about the positions of the tribes, explaining that even without telling them of their placements, they already knew their positions. They have a will in their hands given to them directly from their patriarch, Yaakov. When Yaakov was dying, he wrote a will and in it were the positions his sons were to take when they carried his casket from Egypt to Israel for burial. They knew that these were the positions that the descendants of Yaakov’s sons were to take. The people had already prepared themselves and there would be no problem…

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