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Friday, May 14

The Weekly Shtikle - Bemidbar

The Weekly Shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmas my Opa, Tovia Yehudah ben Yoel, a'h.

In this week's parsha, the twelve tribes are divided up into four camps, each camp being comprised of three tribes. The camp of Yehudah consisted of Yehudah, Yissochor and Zevulun. Reuvein, Shimon and Gad constituted the camp of Reuvein. The camp of Efrayim was comprised of Efrayim, Menasheh and Binyomin. Finally, Dan, Asher and Naphtali formed the camp of Dan.

The sefer Midreshei Torah, quoted in Sha'arei Aharon, makes an interesting observation. The four tribes that were the middle tribe of each camp were Yissochor, Shimon, Menasheh and Asher. The nesi'im, leaders of the tribe, as mentioned at the beginning of the parshah, were Nesanel, Shelumiel, Gamliel and Pagiel respectively. Each of these four names ends with aleph-lamed, one of the Divine names. These four names being the names of the leaders of the middle tribe of each camp is a reflection of the pasuk (35:34) "For I am HaShem, who dwells in the midst of B'nei Yisroel.

This idea is furthered in the next parshah, when the nesi'im bring the sacrifices for the consecration of the Mishkon. These four nesi'im bring their respective offerings on days 2, 5, 8 and 11. The sum of those numbers is 26 which is the gematria of the Divine name, yud-heh-vuv-heh.


A question that has vexed me for many years: At the beginning of this week's parsha, B'nei Yisroel are split into camps. One of Rashi's explanations of "ish al diglo le'osos" (2:2) is that each tribe's camp had a flag which bore the colour of the stone of that tribe's stone on the Choshen. The purpose of this, Rashi explains, was so that everyone would know which camp was theirs. What bothered me about this was that Efrayim and Menasheh, who had separate camps, did not have their own stones on the Choshen. What then would be the colour of their flag?  Even if you say that they both had Yosef's colours, the objective of this plan is not achieved. What I found even more intriguing is the explanation of Targum Yonasan here. He explains that each large camp of three had a flag bearing three colours corresponding to a row of stones on the Choshen. For instance, the camp of Yehuda, Yissachar and Zevulun had a flag with the colours of Odem Pitda and Barekes on them. While this would take care of the problem with Efrayim and Menasheh, the difficulty is that those stones are the stones of Reuven, Shimon and Levi (according to all opinions). What is their connection to that camp?

Have a good Shabbos and Chodesh Tov!

Eliezer Bulka

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:
Al Pi Cheshbon: Tens and Ones by Ari Brodsky
Al Pi Cheshbon: Rounded Numbers
Al Pi Cheshbon: Pidyon HaBen Probability
AstroTorah: A Lifetime of Space and Travel by R' Ari Storch
Dikdukian: Be or Ba?
Dikdukian: Discussions on Bemidbar by Eliyahu Levin

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