Category Archives: Bamidbar

Parshat Bamidbar

This week’s Parsha describes the encampment map for all the Shvatim (tribes) of Israel as they journey through Sinai.

Bamidbar (Numbers) 2:2  says: Every man by his flag, shall the children of Israel camp

According to Midrash Rabbah,

Each tribe had its own prince and its flag whose color corresponded to the color of its stone [in Aaron’s breastplate–see Exodus 28:15-21]. It was from the tribes of Israel that kingdoms learned to provide themselves with flags of various colors.

The tribe of Reuben has the ruby and the colour of their flag was red and embroidered with mandrakes. (Bereishit/Genesis 30:14)

Emerald was the stone of Zevulun, and the colour of their flag was white with a ship embroidered on it, a reference to the Pasuk, “Zebulun shall dwell at the shore of the sea” (Gen. 49:13).

For a complete list of the stones and flags of all the Shevatim (tribes) please see the above link.

A lovely insight by Rabbi Yonatan Grossman:

The untamed desert bespeaks a world without boundaries: it is wild, devoid of order and regulation, a place without human habitation, a place where wild animals reign. Here, in the midst of the lack of boundaries that the desert embodies, a marvelous sight reveals itself: six hundred thousand foot soldiers, aside from women and children, journeying by tribes and by clans. It is specifically against the background of the desert that the splendor of the camp of Israel stands out: a nation that creates banners and tribes, that maintains clans and tents of families.

In a region where there are no boundaries, the Torah brings us God’s word; order, harmony, and guidance.

What can I say? It’s a camping Parsha, the weather is finally warming up, and I’ve got camping on my mind. (Hello Brian and Jeannine – are we heading back to Bon Echo this summer?)

Here’s a unique recipe from Candiquik. S’mores (we’ve got camping on the brain here) with a twist.

Parshat Bamidbar S’Mores – so simple and I had a blast making them

And they camped all over the desert, those people

Bamidbar (Numbers) 1:52 The children of Israel shall encamp, each man by his own camp and each man by his division.

So simple:

  • Stick a stick in a marshmallow.
  • Dip in chocolate.
  • Cover with crushed graham crackers.


B’tayavon and have a great Shabbos!





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Parshat Bamidbar – May 26, 2012

This Parsha could be called Parshat Census. It gives a complete numerical accounting of all of the tribes with the exception of the Levites. Maybe that’s why the English word for Bamidbar (literally, ‘in the desert’) is… numbers!

The original plan was for the Bechor (first born male) to serve in the Mishkan/Beit Hamikdash as the designated priests. According to the Maharal of Prague, there is a special holiness in being the first, since God Himself is the first being.

However the sin of the Golden Calf changed everything. When Moshe descended from Har Sinai and smashed the Luchos (tablets) he gave an ultimatum; they had to choose between God and the idol. Only the tribe of Levi stepped forward to side with Hashem. (Shemot 32:26) As a result, the male first borns lost their priestly status and God decreed that only the Levites would be the ‘Kohanim’ – priests.

In Parshat Bamidbar we see the source of the mitzvah of Pidyon HaBen (redemption of the son).

Bamidbar/Numbers 3:47-48 you shall take five shekels per head, according to the holy shekel, by which the shekel is twenty gerahs. You shall give the money to Aaron and his sons, in redemption for the firstborns who are in excess of them.

It is a rare ritual where the first born male  is redeemed with five coins of silver from his previous obligation to serve G0d. Another purpose of this mitzvah is to remind us of the Yetziat Mitzrayim (Exodus from Egypt) and the final of the ten plagues when God killed the first born of the Egyptians but spared the first born sons of the Israelites. Another reason is to remind us that our love and appreciation for the first born is so great yet everything that is given to us comes from God.

Bamidbar 3:47 You shall take five shekels per head, according to the holy shekel, by which the shekel is twenty gerahs.

 Root Vegetable ‘Shekels’  (adapted from my mom’s recipe)

  • 1 lb. small potatoes
  • 2 lb. sweet potatoes
  • 1 large carrot (I found super fat ones in Chinatown)
  • 2 parsnips
  • 1/2 lb rutanbaga
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon Italian spices
  • fresh chives, chopped, (optional, but they look great)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Cut all the vegetables into ‘coins’ that are approximately 1/2 inch thick. Toss all ingredients together and bake at 425 degrees for 45-55 minutes.

Gigantic carrots that I've only seen in Chinatown.

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