Commentary for B’midbar

23 May

In this week’s parshah, the tribe of Levi is assigned its special duties in the Tabernacle. God commands Moses to “bring close the tribe of Levi and stand them before Aaron the priest to serve him (Num. 3:6).” The Hebrew word for “bring close,” “hakrev,” appears in this form only three times in the Torah. The other two places the word hakrev appears are Numbers 18:2, where the duties of the Levites are more clearly spelled out, and in Exodus 28:1, when Aaron and his sons are appointed to be priests. There are many other words that would fit in some or even all of the three locations (for example, “command” or “appoint”), but the word hakrev is used in these three places, and only in these three places.

Each and every word in the Torah has been carefully selected from all of the words in the Hebrew language, and because of this, one of the major principles of Torah study is the concept that if the same word is used in more than one location, we can infer a connection between the those passages. In all three instances of hakrev, the people being “brought close” are being given important yet difficult responsibilities to fulfill. Judaism is a religion with many, many rules and prohibitions that affect our lives. While people often see responsibilities as a burden, Judaism teaches us to embrace them. We should not view them as a roadblock making our lives difficult, but rather each mitzvah should be treated as an opportunity to learn and explore and become closer to God.

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