Pekudei: Chapter 14

Counting and Numbers


Rabbi Shimon returns in his discussion to the building of the Tabernacle, in itself the union of Tiferet and the Holy ovenant. Since all of this building was done in the secret of the right, the evil eye has no power whenever the right side is present. The 'silver' in "and the silver of them that were numbered of the congregation" is not written as 'wave silver', so it poured from above downward.

Rabbi Yitzchak asks, Since there are no blessings in anything that has been counted, why were the things in the Tabernacle counted? Rabbi Shimon answers that whenever the purpose of the counting is to sanctify, there is holiness in it, just as the tithe is blessed. Blessings are withheld from the other counted things so that no blessings can come to the Other Side, nor will any reach the evil eyed. Rabbi Shimon explains the implications of the fact that the evil eye has no power over the seed of Joseph.

Then five rabbis meet together on the road and begin talking. Rabbi Elazar says: "The eyes of Hashem are toward the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry," yet many righteous people cannot even get enough food. Rabbi Shimon says that in the world above the holy side knows and protects all of its own, and the Other Side knows and controls all of its own. The Other Side cannot rule over the righteous. Rabbi Elazar wants to know why then there was a plague in Yisrael after David counted the people.

Rabbi Shimon answers that everyone failed to pay a ransom for his soul to God to avoid having the plague among them. He speaks then of the holiness that is subject to counting and the holiness that is not, concluding that the ransom is subject to numbering but the people of Yisrael are not. Rabbi Shimon proffers two meanings for "like the sand of the sea." The first means that the sands break the power of the waves to flood the world, so Yisrael is like that sand, preventing the other nations from ruling the world. The second meaning is that neither the sand nor Yisrael can be counted. He talks about a secret and hidden measurement and a reckoning in a hidden place that is the secret of Yisrael Saba and Tevunah. Rabbi Shimon draws a parallel between the talents and the shekels donated for the Tabernacle, kept in two separate accounts, and superior beings numbered by a supernal account with the rest being numbered by a different account.