Israel Forever

For the week ending 31 May 2003 / 29 Iyyar 5763

Who Counts?

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

The fourth of the five Chumashim begins with the Parshat Bamidbar which will be read this Shabbat. It begins with a divine command to conduct a census, the third counting of the Children of Israel in little more than the space of a year.

What is the need for so much counting of Jews?

"Because of His great love for them," Rashi quotes our Sages, "He continuously counts them. When they went out of Egypt He counted them. After they suffered losses because of the sin of the Golden Calf He counted them in order to determine how many survived. And when He came to have His divine presence dwell in the Sanctuary they erected for Him he counted them once again."

Hashem loves His chosen people and expresses this love in the repeated counting of their number. There is an important lesson here for all Jews but especially those whom destiny has placed at the head of the Jewish State.

Following the Holocaust which decimated the world Jewish population the State of Israel was born with only 600,000 Jews living in it. Even the secular leaders of the newborn state realized the need for encouraging large families and the aliya of Jews from abroad in order to develop a truly solid Jewish state. Half a century later these ideals seem to have vanished. Sharp cuts in maternity benefits and child allowances are aimed at discouraging large families because this increases the charedi percentage of the population and every effort is made to encourage the immigration to Israel of non-Jews and those whose Jewishness is not recognized by Torah law.

So who counts in the future of Israel? Israel needs more real Jews and the government must change its policy if we wish to insure Israel forever.

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