Unless otherwise noted, "This week's Parsha" comprises articles taken from contributors to the Chabad.org website. We show the original author's name here, so that proper attribution is given. For the sake of brevity, footnotes cited in the original author's writings are omitted from this website. If you need to see the citations, please refer to the original articles on the Chabad.org website.
Journey Toward Peace
It’s hard to be spiritual in a material world. Our possessions come to possess us; we can’t put down our smartphones or that last piece of chocolate cake. We can spend years working to achieve success in a career, in a relationship or in any other worthy pursuit, and then throw it all away for a foolish, temporary temptation.
So how do we achieve harmony in our lives? How do we get to a place where there is no conflict between our spiritual goals and our physical needs?
Don't Women Count?
The Parshah of Bamidbar (Numbers 1:1–4:20) begins with a census of the Jewish people.
“. . . a head-count of every male according to the number of their names. From twenty years old and upwards, all who are fit to go out to the army in Israel, you shall count them by their legions . . .”
The simple reason for this census was to count those who would be called upon to go to war.
On a deeper level, our sages explains that G‑d desired a census of the Jewish people because He treasures them.
We the People
In Bechukotai, in the midst of one of the most searing curses ever to have been uttered to a nation by way of warning, the sages found a fleck of pure gold.
Moses is describing a nation in flight from its enemies:
I will bring despair into the hearts of those of you who survive in enemy territory. Just the sound of a windblown leaf will put them to running, and they will run scared as if running from a sword! They will fall even when no one is chasing them! They will stumble over each other as they would before a sword, even though no one is chasing them! You will have no power to stand before your enemies.
There is on the face of it nothing positive in this nightmare scenario. But the sages said: “They will stumble over each other” -- read this as “stumble because of one another”: this teaches that all Israelites are sureties [i.e., responsible] for one another.”