Posted by: mosesfromsinai | May 10, 2010

Bamidbar – Uplifting

This week we begin the 4th book in the Torah, called Bamidbar (In the Desert).  It begins with the command to count the Children of Israel.  The choice of words in Hebrew is interesting.  The word chosen is “Si U”, which we translate to mean count.  However the literal translation is more like “Lift up”.  Thus the expression “Si U es Rosh”, would literally translate as “Lift up the head”.  We translate it to mean take a census, a counting of the Jewish nation.  It is further interesting to note that we are having a census taken now in the US as well.

The Ramban points out that this expression “Si U es Rosh”  – “Lift up the Head” was used before in the Torah.  The connotation has two possibilities, one positive and one negative.  We find this by Joseph when he interprets the dreams of the wine bartender for Pharoh and the baker for Pharoh.  Joseph uses a similar expression of “Si U” when interpreting the wine bartender’s dream by saying that the wine bartender would regain his position, (“YiSa Paroh es Roshcha” – “Pharoh will lift up your head.”)  This is obviously in the positive format.  Then Joseph interprets the dream of the baker and uses the Hebrew phrase “Yisa Paroh es Roshcha – “Pharoh will lift up your head” and hang you on a tree.  this is obviously in the negative format.

The Ramban points out that there are two ways a person can go in life.  One is in the positive direction and the other is in the negative direction.  The Midbar, the desert, represents the exile when we are not in the land of Israel.  In exile, we have two paths to choose from.  One will get us counted in a positive light and we will be well rewarded, the other path, unfortunately, will get us counted in a negative light and we will suffer greatly.  Witness our history of suffering during this exile.  Many heads have been hung so to speak.

One further point, the two servants of Pharoh, the wine bartender and the baker represent two concepts in Judaism.  The wine bartender represents the esoteric, hidden, parts of Torah.  Bread represents the main staple of food.  However, it is worth noting that we say, “Not on bread alone does man live, but on the Living words of the Al-mighty does man live.”  The baker was lacking the “Living words of the Al-mighty” and thus he was hung.  In life, in exile we must have the “Living words of the Al-mighty”.  In this way our heads will be lifted up and we will survive the Exile and be rewarded with the final redemption and the building of the 3rd Beis Hamikdosh, at any moment.

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