Torah Weekly

For the week ending 19 May 2018 / 5 Sivan 5778

Parshat Bamidbar

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair - www.seasonsofthemoon.com
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Overview

The Book of Bamidbar — "In the Desert" — begins with G-d commanding Moshe to take a census of all men over age twenty — old enough for service. The count reveals just over 600,000. The levi'im are counted separately later because their service will be unique. They will be responsible for transporting the Mishkan and its furnishings and assembling them when the nation encamps. The 12 Tribes of Israel, each with its banner, are arranged around the Mishkan in four sections: east, south, west and north. Since Levi is singled out, the tribe of Yosef is split into two tribes, Efraim and Menashe, so there will be four groups of three. When the nation travels, they march in a formation similar to the way they camp. A formal transfer is made between the first-born and the levi'im, whereby the levi'im take over the role the first-born would have had serving in the Mishkan if not for the sin of the golden calf. The transfer is made using all the 22,000 surveyed levi'im from one month old and up. Only levi'im between 30 and 50 will work in the Mishkan. The remaining first-born sons are redeemed with silver, similar to the way we redeem our first-born today. The sons of Levi are divided into three main families, Gershon, Kehat and Merari (besides the kohanim — the special division from Kehat's family). The family of Kehat carried the menorah, the table, the altar and the holy ark. Because of their utmost sanctity, the ark and the altar are covered only by Aharon and his sons, before the levi'im prepare them for travel.

Insights

Ofsted Off-course

“In the desert...” (1:1)

It's not so often that Orthodox Jews find themselves on the same team as the Vatican, but an article entitled "First They Came For The Jews — UK Education Overlords Seek To Prohibit Judaism By Stealth" states:

"A London school with an excellent academic record is being threatened with closure for its apparent lack of sufficient enthusiasm in indoctrinating children between the ages of 3 and 8 in the concepts of ‘gender reassignment’. This is the lesson learned by Britain’s hounded faith schools, most recently Vizhnitz Girls’ School, an Orthodox Jewish school in Hackney, London.

"The Office of Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) has threatened to close this high-performing school not for any academic transgression, but for failing to prioritize the Education Department’s equalities charter over the school’s teaching of the Jewish faith. Among the accusations, Ofsted claims the school does not adequately promote LGBT and gender reassignment.

"Vizhnitz Girls’ School, a private Haredi school with 212 students, has been praised for its high academic standards. Ofsted’s admissions of the excellence of the school go further, noting the high-quality classroom resources, the quality of teaching and good subject knowledge. Elsewhere in the report Ofsted begrudgingly admits that: the school’s culture is, however, clearly focused on teaching pupils to respect everybody, regardless of beliefs and lifestyle.

"How then, after recognizing this, can Ofsted castigate the school for being disrespectful to alternate orientations and lifestyles? Ofsted claims that schools are not expected to ‘promote’ certain ideas over orientation or gender fluidity, but to ‘respect’ them. By Ofsted’s own admission, however, Vizhnitz Girls’ School has a culture of ‘teaching pupils to respect everybody.’

"This contradiction in Ofsted’s report has led some parents from Vizhnitz School to suggest they are being unfairly targeted by the educational authorities. Indeed, the school has already been inspected three times in just one year; far more often than many of the poorly performing schools of Britain’s widely-derided education system. Despite being the 6th largest economy in the world and having a much higher education budget than most nations, Britain has slipped to 21st in reading and 27th in maths worldwide (OECD rankings).

"This comes at a particularly troubling time for Britain’s Jewish community, which has seen anti-Semitism rise in recent years. In April this year, four British universities opposed the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism, the standard definition most UK institutions adhere to. This follows increasing academic boycotts of Jewish speakers on campuses and an 11% rise in anti-Semitic incidents in the UK...

"Ofsted’s defense... is that they are not imposing secularism but promoting ‘fundamental British values.’ This is ironically a new, ham-fisted imposition on schools in the wake of radical home-grown radical religious terrorism. Supposedly teaching the ‘fundamental’ British value of gender fluidity to a five-year old Jewish schoolgirl will prevent the next terrorist killing dozens of people with a nail bomb at a pop concert.

"The elephant in the classroom.

"One wonders how energetically Ofsted is imposing the LGBT agenda on the UK’s 156 Muslim schools. In recent months, of the 95 persons killed in British terrorist attacks, 92 were victims of Islamic terrorism — that’s a total of zero from Jewish orthodoxy. But regardless of the facts (or common sense), Ofsted chief Amanda Spielman seems intent on using the shabby disguise of counter-terrorism to enforce the LGBT agenda upon schools. When asked exactly what were the success/failure parameters for the promotion of ‘British values’ Amanda Spielman failed to give an explanation. This allows Ofsted to rule on an ad hoc basis, guided only by its own prejudices.

"Ultimately it will be the schoolgirls of Vizhnitz who will suffer most when their school is closed, their education halted and their future thrown into chaos.

"It is now increasingly clear, that for the liberal institutions that rule over us, tolerance is segregated into whom they consider to be the deserving and the undeserving. For those who don’t have the good fortune to fall into one of the liberal establishment’s officially-designated victim classes, religious freedom is the most disposable of all rights.

"Can Jewish and Christian schools exist in any meaningful sense under Ofsted? The evidence suggests not — and some might suggest that is perhaps the intention."

This week marks the beginning of our reading the Book of Bamidbar - "In the Desert." The Torah was given to us in the desert to enshrine the principle that in order to keep the Torah the Jewish People must make themselves like a desert — free of all alien values. And, if necessary, we must be prepared to go out once again into the desert of societal rejection to protect those values.

  • Source: The Dignitatis Humanae Institute (DHI), also known as the Institute for Human Dignity and L’Istituto Dignitatis Humanae, a Catholic-inspired NGO based in Rome. Its mission is to "protect and promote human dignity through the recognition that man is born in the image and Likeness of G-d." Article date - Thursday, 26 April 2018

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