And it is written: כאשר צוה ה’ את משה ויפקדם במדבר סיני Ka’asher tsiva Hashem et-Moshe vayifkedem bemidbar Sinai, “As YKVK commanded Moshe, so he counted them in the wilderness of Sinai[1]. See, this verse’s gematria is 2012, that is 4 x 503, this being the numerical value of המחנת ha-machanet, “the encampment”. And the parsha brings[2] how each one of the shevatim/tribes was positioned in the desert. There were four encampments situated in different positions, and each machaneh consisted of three tribes. Now, the gematria of vayifkedem bemidbar Sinai is 618, that being the same numerical value as בריתו berito, “Your pact”. And as it is explained, “When He came to cause His Divine Presence to rest among them, He counted them”[3] in order to bless them. Furthermore, the holy Zohar comments: “We do not find another counting among Israel by which they received blessings from it as in this count, because this counting was purposely meant for a blessing”[4]. He counted the people to bring them the strength of the Shechina to direct and to interact with them. For the Shechina vitalizes the people, as She is the source of the blessings[5]. The pact further strengthened the people much like a ship that is docked at the pier, but that is always subject to the strong and constant movements of the waves that could carry it away. So, in order to firmly secure and protect the ship, it is necessary to wind many times the ropes that connect the ship’s anchor to the pier’s post. Truly, the count united the Shechina with the Bnei Israel above and below, as this was a pact through which new brachot came down to them through the Divine conduit of their original pact at Matan Torah. See, the ribua perati (“individual squaring”) of the ordinal gematria of בריתו berito is: (bet, 22 = 4) + (reish, 202 = 400) + (yud, 102 = 100) + (tav, 222 = 484) + (vav, 62 = 36) = 1024, this being the same gematria of בתורתיו beTorotav, “Your Torah[6]. The number 1024 alludes to the wholeness of the two Torot – the Written and the Oral. More so, 210 = 1024, where the power of 10 indicates the perfection of each one of them[7]. And the gematria atbash plus the kolel of beTorotav is 506, this being the same numerical value of הראש ha-rosh, “the head”. Through the counting of the people, YKVK distinguishes the Bnei Israel from the nations, “Because they were dear to Him”[8]. And ישראל Israel is a tzeruf of לי ראש Li rosh, “A head for me”[9].


[1] Bamidar 1:19, Bamidbar.

[2] Starting on Bamidbar 2:3.

[3] Rashi on Bamidbar 1:1.

[4] 117b, Bamidbar.

[5] See Maggid Mesharim, Bamidbar.

[6] Daniel 9:10. To better understand the gematria operation used here, in the ordinal gematria (mispar siduri) each of the 22 letters is given an equivalent from one to twenty-two. For example, alef equals 1, kaf equals 11, tav = 22. The final kaf equals 23 etc. In the text above, each individual letter of בריתו was examined in its ordinal gematria, then squared. The ribua perati is the summing of the squares of each letter that make up the word.

[7] In Kabbalah, squaring signifies maturation and development, while a power of ten is Divine perfection.

[8] Rashi on Bamidbar 1:1.

[9] The Ari”zal, Sha’ar HaPesukim, Vayeitzei.


Once upon a time there was a rasha that came to a tzaddik saying he wanted to learn Torah. Truly, he did not want to learn, because all he wanted was to disturb the tzaddik. Anyway, the tzaddik said to the rasha: “Let us begin by learning the Alef-Bet. This is the letter Alef“. And the rasha answered him: “How do you know that this is the letter Alef?”. The tzaddik then took the rasha‘s ear and pulled on it. The rasha said: “Ouch, you are stretching my ear!”. And the tzaddik replied: “Who told you this is your ear?” From this mashal/story we learn the nature of the yetser hara/evil inclination. See, she knows well the yetser hatov/good inclination. She says to it: “Go do a mitzva, go study Torah or pray”. However, deep down it does not want any mitzva done. Therefore, when the person goes to fulfill a mitzva, like in the tefillah, the yetser hara comes and disturbs her. Now, the yetser hatov also knows very well the yetser hara, after all they are always at war with one another. So, it says to the yetser hara that this time she is indeed allowed to lead a person into doing an averah (chaz v’shalom). Then, the yetser hara gets happy and comes very close to make a person transgress, yet before that, the yetser hatov pulls away the yetser hara as if it was “pulling on its ears”, moving her far from the averah, leaving it dejected and subjugated. And regarding the words in the parsha Beha’alotecha, הצר הצרר אתכם Chatzer hatzorer etchem, “The enemy who oppresses you” (Bamidbar 10:9), the Shlach HaKodesh says: “These [words] are a very clear allusion to the yetser hara, since no enemy disturbs us more than the Samech-Mem [Satan]… There is a constant struggle between man and his yetser hara. At times, man wins over the yetsar hara, and in other moments, the powers of the Samech-Mem win over man. In any manner, both are constantly involved in a state of war”. Truly, the yetser hara is the “enemy” that brings that which is מרת morat, (“bitter”) to man. And this term has gematria atbash of 640, the same as the pasuk Chatzer hatzorer etchem. However, if man learns to subjugate the yetser hara, he then walks in the דרך הקדש derech ha-kodesh, (“holy path”), with gematria 633, the same as the gematria albam of Chatzer hatzorer etchem.



Ka’asher tsiva Hashem et-Moshe vayifkedem bemidbar Sinai, ” As Hashem commanded Moshe, so he counted them in the wilderness of Sinai” (Bamidar 1:19). Behold, the term ויפקדם vayifkedem, (“counted them”) has absolute gematria 240, and surprisingly its gematria atbash is also 240. In the atbash method of gematria, the first letter of the alef-betalef – is substituted by the last letter – tav, the second – bet – by the one before last – shin – and so forth and so on, inverting the position of the alef-bet. This method seeks in the term or phrase a “secret message” hidden in the result. Conceptually, the hidden secret in this case is the actual original word itself, meaning that, “to count” is its own Sod – the hidden/intimate level of Torah understanding” – of counting. This is in reality something very profound and at the smae time something that belongs to the nature of numbers. In general, when we think on a number we know that it represents some objetive quantity. To count is the action to find the number of elements in a finite set of objects, to establish a correspondence between the set being counted and a (greater) set of numbers. In another level, to count is “to establish”, in the sense of affirming the existence e identity. As such, the counting of the Bnei Israel identify it in the world in a revealed manner, thus allowing its affirmation as a chosen set/group – its recognition. And regarding the counting, Bamidbar 1:2 uses the expression S’eu et rosh kol adat Bnei Israel, that literally means, “Raise the heads of all children of Israel“. The Shem M’Shmuel in this pasuk comments that, “The census gave strength to the people’s Ego”. That is, the fact that all Jews were counted individually was a manner to emphasize the self-esteem of each Jew that in this way could experience the actual “Raising of his head”.