Monday, May 17, 2010

Shavuot - Why Youngsters Were Not Counted

The counting of Jews in the desert signifies their cherished status to G-d (Bamidbar, 1, 1 - Rashi). No matter their differences, each Jew counted as an individual. Why then did the counting exclude those under the age of 20 (Bamidbar 1, 3)? Were they any less cherished?

The commandment to teach kids Torah applies to all fathers, until the children reach the age of 20. Children and teenagers are urged to learn Torah, Mishna and Gemora (Pirkei Avot 5, 32). One of the reasons for this paternal obligation rests on the fact that prior to their receipt of the Torah, the Jewish people had to provide G-d with guarantors that Torah will be observed and studied - otherwise this gift would be withheld. And the only guarantors G-d accepted were the Jewish children.

It turns out, therefore, these youngsters are the very reason Jews have Torah in the first place. Their cherished status goes without saying - and goes without counting, simply because they serve as the very foundation upon which all others enjoy and live with Torah.

An appropriate analogy is - preparing for something important. It goes without saying we'd have to be alive to do that. We do not even conceive as needing confirmation of this fact. Similarly, the very fact we have Torah in the first place indicates the special role Jewish children have in guaranteeing its existence.

Shavuot is the festival that commemorates the day we Jews received our holy Torah. Happy Shavuot dear friends!

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