B’Ohel Haneviyim: Parshas Bamidbar 5773


This week’s Haftorah is of an extremely moving nature. It is from Hoshea and depicts how far we were to eventually stray from Hashem and how the Galus and our ultimate redemption are to play out. Hakadosh Baruch Hu carries out a long conversation with Hoshea. As part of this conversation Hashem instructs Hoshea to go and marry a woman of ill repute (see mefarshim who explain how Hashem could have commanded him to marry and live with an unfaithful woman). Hoshea has three children from this harlot and Hashem instructs Hoshea each time as to what name to give. The names Hashem told him to give all reflected various aspects of our relationship with Hashem. The theme of our Haftorah is really about how Hashem just cannot allow himself to abandon us. It is about how Hashem, despite our utter unfaithfulness to Him, nevertheless feels compelled to keep us and take care of us.

The Navi tells us that Hashem sent us into Exile not so that we should feel we need Him, but rather so that we should better realize our uniqueness, and act accordingly. It is to allow us to better grasp this uniqueness through sharp contrast that we were exiled among the nations. Hashem explains that He doesn’t want us to desire to be his Nation only when we are in trouble or feel that the situation is bad. He wishes for us to re-evaluate our relationship with Him, to realize that our connection to Hashem as it is meant to be represents what is best for us. The purpose of our Galus is that we should not be – or feel that we are – too much part of any society. It is in this frame of mind that Hashem expects us to come back to Him – with the realization that He is not so much our ‘master’ as he is our beloved ‘husband’ (not our בעל, but our איש).

This Haftorah is chosen for our Sedra because it starts off by telling us that we will be numerous as grains of sand that cannot be measured or counted… This is reminiscent of our Sedra in which a census of Klal-Yisroel is taken. The connection is not only weak but seems to be problematic. In the Parsha we count Klal-Yisroel, while in the Haftorah it is described as so numerous as to be uncountable. What kind of connection is this?

Hashem commanded us to be counted in the Midbar because of His love for us. Hashem cherished each and every Jew and therefore wished to have us counted. In our Haftorah we will not be able to be counted because Hashem loves us so much that he wishes for us to be an amazing multitude.

The idea of us being counted and our not being countable are one and the same: Hashem loves and appreciates us because we are his children. We are his children no matter how we act collectively. In the final analysis, Jews all around the world feel comfortable within their surrounding societies. The time has come for us to realize more fully that we love Hashem and that we want to ‘come back home’ – simply out of sheer and pure love for Hashem.

A very warm Good Shabbos, Rabbi Y. Dov Krakowski