The start of the Book of Numbers, Bamidbar, contains a census of the Israelite people. This enumeration of individuals functions as more than a mere headcount along their journey or delineation of parcel size for plots in the promised land: it serves to reinforce the importance of connection and family during uncertain times. Wandering in the wilderness, subsisting but not thriving while pushing back against the mantle of responsibility assumed with reception of the commandments, the Israelites may have felt unmoored from their origins and in need of a reminder of connection. This census reminded them not only of their individual tribal identities — their clans and their ancestral houses — but ultimately their collective responsibility and shared destiny as a whole people. May we each continue to feel the embrace of those closest to us, our closest in-group circles, while offering our support to the whole of humanity.
– Rabbi Aaron Meyer