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NUMBERS 1:18 – EACH UNIQUE INDIVIDUAL

“And they gathered the entire nation on the first day of the second month…according to the number of the names…” (Numbers 1:18).

What is meant by “according to the number of the names”?

Ramban (Nachmanides) explains: Hashem told Moses to count each and every person with honor and dignity. Don’t just ask the head of each household how many people are in his family. Rather, each and every person was to pass before Moses with honor, and he would count them.

According to Ramban, everyone deserved to be counted personally by Moses. Clearly, this is a very inefficient way to conduct a census. But Hashem was teaching that each person is a unique individual and should never be treated simply as a number.

By Rabbi Michael Skobac

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