Bamidbar – Torah Themes

Parshas Bamidbar


Deep Foundations


Our parsha discusses the degalim, encampment of the Jews, in the desert. Yalkut Reuveni brings down from the Zohar that the tribes were set up in a way that corresponded to the involvement of the 12 sons of Yaakov in the incident of mechiras Yosef. It explains how the more involved each brother was in the sale, the further away he was from the Shechina. Yosef himself is not even mentioned in the degalim, rather, Efraim and Menashe are listed. What does this all mean? Why is this specific sin of the sale of Yosef so significant in the layout of the encampments?


Precise Location


Another interesting passage from Yalkut Reuveni is about the location of the Beis Hamikdash. It was chosen by Hashem to be primarily in the portion of Binyamin, because he was not involved in the sale of Yosef. Binyamin is thus called (Devarim 33:12), “yedid Hashem, the beloved one of God.” There is one strip of the mizbayach’s yesod which is in the property of Yehuda. This pays tribute to his initiating the saving process of sparing Yosef’s life and selling him instead (See Bereishis 37:26). Yesod is the trait of Yosef Hatzaddik. Again, the sale of Yosef is the relevant factor here and the question is why?


100 Blessings


One last thing. Chazal tell us, brought by Yalkut Reuveni, that the mishkan has 100 sockets underground which the walls were supported by. These 100 sockets correspond to the 100 berachos that one is required to say each day. What is this about?


Life Goal


Our purpose in life is to get close to Hashem. This takes place in three arenas. One is in our relationship between God and man, another is between man and fellow man and another is between man and himself. We are charged with the mission to develop our service of Hashem and our middos in all three areas. An imperfection in one arena represents a distance from Hashem. The mishkan and beis hamikdash are places where Hashem’s presence is dominant. Thus, the foundation of the mishkan, that which makes it all stand is that of personal gratitude and connection to God. When we say 100 bearachos a day, we are thanking Hashem for the full gamut of human experience and striking a personal connection with Hashem.


We have full faith that Hashem controls the world and no one can hurt us or benefit us without Hashem approving the precise action. If we are unhappy with another person, our job is to turn to Hashem and to find out the best way to deal with the pain. Sometimes, we simply need to accept and overlook the pain, and sometimes we need to take precautions to talk with the person or to protect ourselves. If we are unsure, we ask a shaila, just as the brothers could have discussed their situation with Yaakov, instead of allowing their own biases to distract them into selling their brother.


The beis hamikdash was built as a place of connection. Thus, since the tribes were involved in selling Yosef, this showed discord and lack of harmony. The brothers sold Yosef and bought shoes with the proceeds. This hints to the fact that they did not approve his destination in life. They could not respect or honor his journey and felt that he did not respect theirs. This is a major disturbance in harmony and gets in the way of one connecting with Hashem as well. Hashem wants all of his children to treat each other respectfully. Thus, it was only Binyamin, who was not involved in this sale, who was able to host the mishkan in his property. The repentance that Yehuda did, at the time of passion, while the crime was taking place, merited him a slither of land that would host the yesod of the mizbayach.

Desert Arrangement


Coming back to our parsha, the desert encampment represented a closeness to Hashem and a striving to create our lives revolving around connection to Hashem, represented by the mishkan in the center. It is specifically here that the Jews were arranged in a way that reminded them that devisivness, represented by the sale of Yosef, is what pushes one away from God. The more one chooses to work on his middos and to love his fellow man, the closer he can get to Hashem.

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