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Counting: Flags, Stars and Shavuot

By: Jessie Kornblum


This week's Parsha, Parsha Bamidbar, is usually read before Shavuot. It begins with, and primarily deals with the census of the     of  .   
 “֗ ֙ ֣ ֔ ֖ ֣ ֑ ֣ ֔ ֖
(1,2)
Rashi explains that the purpose of the census is for Hashem to express his love for his people. When are counted, Hashem is taking inventory of His people. When there is a census, Hashem demonstrates His love by constantly checking on us and making sure that we are all present and in His possession.
 
 
In Perek 2, Pasuk 2 it says,  “֣ ֤ ֙ ֣ ֔ ֖ ֣ ֑ ֕ ֥ ֖ ” . Each Shevet had their own unique flag . Then, each shevet was in a group of three shevatim, where it was encamped around the Mishkan and there was another flag for that specific group. The fact that Hashem told Klal Yisrael to make flags and come together was just an expression of the great love Hashem has for His nation. There is a Midrash that says when Hashem came down on Har Sinai, he was accompanied by melachim and they all came down with flags. Klal Yisrael had a great desire for these flags and they said to Hashem, “please we want flags!”, Hashem then told Moshe to make flags like they wished for. We see that this is a sign of Hashem's love and affection for us in Shir Hashirim-
Shlomo Hamelech says  (2,4)  “֨֙ ֣ ֔ ֥ ֖ ” -  His flag of love was over me, a sign of love. So what is a flag, what does it really symbolize? Take the flag of a country, for example; it’s main purpose is to connect and identify with one’s country. Similarly, some states and towns have their own flags. We also see flags in the army, every unit in the Israeli army has a flag specific to them. Flags nowadays and the flags of the melachim share a similar meaning. The flags represent a sense of unity and importance. The flags of the melachim display that each member of Klal Yisrael had a specific purpose and tafkid. When Klal Yisrael saw these flags, they had a strong yearning and desire for Hashem’s love. After coming from Egypt, a place where their lives lacked meaning, the flags offered them a feeling of purpose.
Kabbalat Hatorah and Hashem tell Moshe to count according to their names. Every day in davening  in Pesukei d'zimra we say,
 147 tehillim in Passuk 4
֣ ֖ ֑ ֜֗ ֥
Hashem counts the stars and calls each one by their name, every star has a name. Hashem calls every star by name because every star has a purpose. Dovid Hamelech tells us that Hashem calls out to every star because every star has a tafkid and purpose, how much more so do we have to recognize that each of us has a role we must play. Every shevet had a flag, every pluga (group of three) had a flag. The flag of Levi was not the flag of Yehuda, and the flag of Shimon was not the flag of Yissocher . Going into Shavuot, we have to recognize that there's a special part of Torah for us. We ask Hashem to give us our portion in Torah. Every Jew has his/her place and their own personal relationship with Hashem. Don't measure yourself by anyone else. Hashem knows our name and we are important to Him.
 
We are a few days away from z'man Matan Torah, the time of year Hashem gives us the Torah. The Torah tells us that from Pesach until Shavuot, there are 49 days linking these two times. This is really the whole reason why we were taken out of Egypt. We have to prepare ourselves for receiving the Torah. The last Shabbat before Shavuot, Hashem is telling us, “I know who you are and I love you.” We all have a purpose and a role. We are all important to Hashem and a part of Klal Ysrael. Once we acknowledge and appreciate this, we are ready to fully accept the Torah with love on Shavuot.