Haftaras Bamidbar

Sefer Bamidbar begins with a census of the Jewish People. Our Sages therefore selected, as the haftarah for parashas Bamidbar, a portion beginning with the following verse (Hoshea 2:1): “Still, the number of the Children of Israel shall be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured our counted.” Although the regular haftarah for Bamidbar is preempted this year by the special haftarah for erev Rosh Chodesh, I felt it would still be interesting to present one of the Maggid’s teachings relating to the regular haftarah.
In Bamdibar Rabbah 2:18, the Midrash notes that Hoshea’s statement seems self-contradictory. Hoshea first speaks of the number of the Children of Israel, and then says that they will be beyond number. The Midrash resolves the difficulty by saying that when the Jewish People do not fulfill Hashem’s will they are numbered, but when they do fulfill Hashem’s will they are beyond number.
In explaining this Midrash, the Maggid draws an analogy to how a person outfits his home. Certain items, such as earthenware, have value only in terms of their functionality. People usually own only the minimum number of such items that they need. Other items, such as silver and gold vessels, not only serve a function, but are also appealing and of value in their own right. People therefore tend to own many more such items than they need. 
The Jewish Nation is the only nation that has accepted Hashem’s Torah and thereby is bonded to Him. Accordingly, as the Maggid explains in his last essay on the Book of Ruth, the Jewish Nation is an indispensible component of the world. When Jews are lax in fulfilling God’s will, there is only one justification for the existence of the Jewish Nation: the simple fact that it is necessary for the continued existence of the world. In this situation, Hashem keeps the world stocked with only the minimum necessary complement of Jews, making the Jewish People numbered. But when the Jewish People fulfill Hashem’s will diligently, Hashem regards them as delightful treasures, as it is written (Yeshayah 62:4): “You shall be called ‘My desire is for her.’” He therefore makes them abundant beyond number.
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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