Learning Group—Parshat Bamidbar

(Numbers 1:1-4:20)

(Haftara: Hosea 2, 1-22)

(Pirkay Avot Chapter 6)

1. [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?

2. [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?

3. [Haftara: Hosea 2:21] “I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, and in kindness and in compassion”. One would think that this should say, “I will marry you to me…” Why does it say, “I will become engaged to you”?

4. [Pirkay Avot 6:6] “…the Torah is acquired in 48 ways…with humility…” There is humility that is a result of low self-image, and there is a positive kind of humility. What self-image and what relationship to others does a person with positive humility have?

5. [Rosh Chodesh] On Rosh Chodesh we pray the Hallel prayer. What does the following sentence mean: “The stone that the builders despised became the most important stone”?

Commentary

[3:12] “…And I have taken the Levites from among the children of Israel… and the Levites shall be mine.”

“Not only the tribe of Levi, but each and every person in the world, whose spirit has moved him and has understood himself that he should separate himself to stand before God, to serve Him, to worship Him, to know God and to walk in a straight way like God made him, and he has given up all the various calculations that men make–this man has become holy like a holy of holies, and God shall be his portion and his inheritance forever, and shall give him his needs in this world, as He has given to the Kohanim and the Levites…”

–Rambam, R. Moshe ben Maimon, 1135-1204, Spain and Egypt

This study page is dedicated to the memory of Sarah Bella bat Yitzchak Kummer, Chaim Yosef Yechiel ben Eliyahu Kummer and Eliyahu and Margaret Kumme

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