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           flowersBamidbar

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In Parshas Bamidbar, Hashem commands Moshe to count B’nei Yisroel according to family and shevet. The purpose of this counting is to set B’nei Yisroel up in a formation around the Mishkan. Every shevet was given a distinctive flag, symbolizing a unique trait or aspect of that shevet, and a specific place in the formation around the Mishkan.

The time of this counting was "b’shana hasheinis l’tzeis mi’eretz mitzrayim" - In the second year from when B’nai Yisroel left Egypt. Harav Yaakov Kaminetzky (in his sefer Emes L’Yaakov) asks - why did Hashem wait a full year from when they left Egypt to set them up in a formation? Why wasn’t it done sooner?

To answer this question we must understand the purpose of the formation and the flags. Every shevet had a specific position in the formation. The flags each had a distinct color and emblem. Each one symbolized the essence of the shevet it represented. This was to symbolize that every shevet was different and had a unique way of serving Hashem. So, in essence, the flags served to separate and distinguish between the shevatim. But the Mishkan, which was situated in the center of the formation, served as a unifying factor. It focused all of the shevatim on a common goal - serving Hashem. Each one used its own unique characteristics and strengths, and together they created a harmonious symphony.

Until the Mishkan was built, B’nai Yisroel couldn’t be set up in the configuration, since it would only serve to separate between them. Only once the Mishkan was built, and there was a common spiritual focus, can the different roles of each shevet can be defined.

Nowadays we also see the diverse paths taken by different Jewish groups. There are Ashkenazim, Sefaradim, Chassidim and Misnagdim. Within each group there are numerous factions and subdivisions. Once again, the means are different, but the goal is the same. When we are all truly striving to get close to Hashem, together we create a harmonious symphony.

Though there is a right and a left to the path, and different shortcuts and detours, there is only one true path. In the words of the Kli Yakar - "Umnum haderech hatov eino ki im echad" - there is only one true lifestyle: one revolving around the Torah, our very source of life.

Sources: Emes L’Ya’akov, Kli Yakar

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In Loving Memory Of Our Father, Mr. Joseph Black (Yosef Ben Zelig) O"H
In Loving Memory Of Our Mother, Mrs. Norma Black (Nechama Bas Tzvi Hirsh) O"H
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