1. "And Hashem spoke to Moses, saying, 'When you do take the sum of the children of Yisrael after their number" (Shemot 30:11-13). Rabbi Aba, Rabbi Acha and Rabbi Yosi were traveling from Tiberias to Tzipori. While they were traveling, they saw Rabbi Elazar coming with Rabbi Chiya. Rabbi Aba said: we shall surely join the Shechinah. They waited until they reached them. As soon as they came to them, Rabbi Elazar said: it is most certainly written: "The eyes of Hashem are towards the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry" (Tehilim 34:16). This passage is difficult; (THE END OF THE SUBJECT IS IN THE PORTION OF PEKUDEI, PARA. 68F).
2. Come and behold: it has been established that celestial blessing does not dwell on something that is numbered. And if you ask how Yisrael were counted, he took from them a ransom for themselves. And they did not count until all the ransom that was gathered was counted. THUS at first Yisrael are blessed WHEN THE RANSOM IS RECEIVED, afterwards, once they counted the ransom, Yisrael are blessed again. So we find that Yisrael is blessed at the beginning and at the end, and they did not suffer a plague.
3. He asks: Why is a plague caused by counting? HE ANSWERS: Because the blessing does not dwell on anything numbered, and since the blessing has departed, the Other Side dwells on it and can harm. Therefore, we receive ransom and redeem it in order to do the counting. And we have already discussed and learned this.