(Numbers 1:1-4:20)
(Haftara: Hosea 2, 1-22)
(Pirkay Avot Chapter 5)
(Sfirat Ha’omer)
(Siddur)

1. [1:47] “But the Levites… were not counted among them.” The tribe of Levi—the priestly tribe–is not counted together with the rest of the Israelites, and they also get no specific section of the land of Israel. There is a very strong separation between the tribe of Levi and the rest of the nation. What are the advantages of such a strong separation and what are the disadvantages?

2. [3:12] “I took the Levites from among the Israelites in place of the first-born…” The priestly tribe was originally supposed to be the first-born males. After the sin of the golden calf, the first-born lost their status as the priestly class, and Levi took their place, because they were loyal to God. What qualities would the first-born have that would have made them suitable to be the priestly class?

3. [Haftara: Hosea 2:21] “I will betroth you to me in righteousness (betzedek) and in justice (bemishpat), and in kindness (chesed) and in compassion (rachamim)”. What is the difference between righteousness and justice? What is the difference between kindness and compassion?

4. [Pirkay Avot 5:10] “There are 7 qualities in a wise person: …he doesn’t interrupt another’s speech, he answers clearly without confusion, he asks according to the subject and answers properly, he answers in the order of the subjects raised…he admits to the truth”. A wise person has the qualities of calmness and clarity of mind. Will behaving in these ways give a person calmness and clarity, or must a person develop calmness and clarity, and then he or she will act properly?

5. [Siddur] In the prayer “Alenu”, we say, “…to turn all the wicked of the earth to you”. However, in the blessing, “Valamalshinim” in the Amidah, we say, “Let everyone who does evil be destroyed in a second”. Why do we say in one prayer that the wicked should be destroyed, and in the other prayer that the wicked should turn to God?

Commentary

In relation to a corrupt person, it is proper to hate only the corruption of that person. However, in relation to the “image of God” of that person, one should honour it with love. And one should also know that the goodness of that person is more basic to him than the negative qualities.

–Rabbi Avraham Y. H. Kuk, 1865-1935, Lithuania and Israel.
This study page is dedicated to the memory of Gad Eliahu ben David and Kochava—Eli Zucker
And this study page is dedicated to the memory of Sarah Bella bat Yitzchak Kummer, Chaim Yosef Yechiel ben Eliyahu Kummer and Eliyahu and Margaret Kummer