This week the Torah opens (yet again) with a census. It is the continuation of the sons of Levi which began at the end of last week's parashah, particularly with the sons of Kehat. The verse reads, "Count the heads of the family of Kehat among the tribe of Levi, according to their families and genealogies." The term used for counting is naso, also the term that this Parashah bears as its name. Many commentators are intrigued as to why this term is used. In fact if you were to survey any student proficient in his/her learning of shorashim (Biblical Hebrew roots), the likely answer would be 'lift' or 'carry'. Counting has already a litany of terms.
Why is it that
is then used? Furthermore, why is this term attributed to the second son of Levi? Why don't we begin with the eldest and proceed in an orderly fashion?
R' Shlomo Ephraim
his commentary, the Kli Yakar, reminds us that it was the job of Kehat, the second son to carry the Aron (Ark). As a result, this is a group that should be accorded special honor hence the precedence and the injunction, elevate and not merely count. This lesson, though is specifically not taught through the eldest son. In fact, had the eldest one been assigned that task, we would have attributed his precedence with age. We would have overlooked that it was the connection to Torah that made this group 'first-worthy.' It was specifically given to the second one, states the Kli Yakar, to remind us that when it comes to the crown of Torah, it is available and accessible to all equally. Not age, last name, position in family or any other factor limits this. It is rather those who attach themselves to Torah, study it, carry its weight and plumb its depths that will ultimately be elevated.
In the last fifteen years, I have been blessed to learn Torah alongside many of you and your children and many who are now raising families of their own. Several times throughout the years, we would pause to discuss the "why" of our learning. Torah, as we may have sang in preschool (and is stated in Deuteronomy) is Morasha Kehilat Yaakov- an inheritance for all of the Jewish people. As long we put in the time and effort, we develop a further connection and we are adorned with the crown of Torah.
Thank you for the opportunity to learn alongside each of you. May we continue to grow and be elevated in our Torah learning.
L'hitraot! Come visit us in Israel!