Student Teaching in the New Millenium

5771 B’midbar IV

In Numbers on May 27, 2011 at 11:29 am

First-born? First-born what?
Female and Male, made He them.
Why none, and then one?

Lions, Tigers, and Bears?

Why redeem the first-born and then command only to count the males?

One of the stories says that Moses passes among Israel little pieces of paper, some of which said “five shekels” on them to determine who had to pay the redemption price. Can redemption rely on something so simple as drawing straws?

This portion of the Torah alludes to male service in the sanctuary indirectly. There is nothing here that says “women shall not be involved”. In fact, all Levites are taken to God for service. Why the hullabaloo over female priests and rabbis?

Some creative retellings:

One day, God redeemed the first-born of Israel through the Levites. There was much partying in the wilderness. In the midst of it all, a father said to his child “thank God! Not mine!”

One day, God redeemed the first-born of Israel through the Levites. There was much jealousy in the wilderness. And they said, “who are they to be set over us? Are we but the children of Israel? And they the children of God?”

One day, God redeemed the first-born of Israel through the Levites. The children of Israel drew straws to determine whose first-born was “redeemed” and who had to pay the redemption price. When this was said and done, everyone said to everyone else, “why should I have to pay for your kid?”

One day, God redeemed the first-born of Israel through the Levites. And the Levite sons were counted according to the number of the names, by the guidelines set forth by God. The women asked, “why can only the men work in the Sanctuary?”. And the men said “the difference is not that you cannot work in the Sanctuary. The difference is that you can get out of it.”

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