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Browse Zemanim: Shabouot: Counting the Nation Precedes Shabouoth

Contributed by: Rabbi Haim Shaul

The Shabbat prior to each festival embodies the spirit and theme of the upcoming holiday. For example, the Shabbat before Yom Kippour is called "Shabbat Shuva" (Shabbat of returning to G-d). Even though we don't talk about repentance on Shabbat throughout the year, the Shabbat between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippour is a time when our concentration shifts toward the theme of the upcoming holiday.

On Shabbat we read Parashat Bemidbar, the first parasha of Sefer Bemidbar. What about the inauguration of Sefer Bemidbar is connected to the forthcoming celebration of Shabouoth? What is the allusion in the parasha to this holiday theme?

Parashat Bemidbar starts with the counting of every single individual. That the entire national identity of the Jewish people is made up of individuals and each person is important in the eyes of G-d. As the sages have stated that each Jew corresponds to one letter of the Torah, and just as the Torah would be incomplete without even one letter, so too the Jewish nation is incomplete if it is missing even one individual.

When the children of Israel encamped at Sinai, the Torah uses the singular "Vayihan" and he (the nation) encamped. They encamped as one man with one heart, with a complete unity. The Jewish nation could not receive the Torah without this complete unity, as one cohesive unit. Each individual is crucial for the nation as a whole, for if even one individual is not included, the entire nation is incomplete.

We can now understand the importance of our parasha to the holiday. Moshe was instructed to count the nation to emphasize the importance of each individual in the eyes of G-d. Only by appreciating each other, and overlooking our differences, can we once again come together and truly deserve to reacquire the Torah- only then can we genuinely celebrate Shabouoth.
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