Sunday, May 23, 2010

A Contrast in Census-Taking

The census every several years, as is conducted in the U.S. for example, employs common folk or unemployed people who go door to door to count the country's population.

In sharp contrast, census of the Jews that took place in the desert, as in the year 2449 (2321 BCE), involved the most esteemed leaders of the nation. G-d commanded Moses, the most important person among the Jews, to count them, to be accompanied by Aaron, Moses's brother, the high priest and 2nd most important personage, together with the leaders of each of the 12 tribes.

These 14 highest-ranking figures visited every tent in the Israelite camp. They wore their Sabbath clothes and confronted each household with pleasant and cheerful countenances.

Counting, in itself, is a secular chore. However, counting Jews, each of whom harbors an actual spark of G-d, transforms such a chore into a holy activity. No less than the most important people of the generation were required to set aside their other committments in order to fullfil this holy task. Thus were counted the cherished people of G-d.

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