Health, Nutrition & Torah: Bamidbar

| May 12, 2010

Courtesy Alexander Smolianitski (http://flickr.com/photos/smolianitski/)

Courtesy Alexander Smolianitski (http://flickr.com/photos/smolianitski/)

The Text:
Numbers 1:1-3 “YHVH spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the Tent of Meeting, saying:  Take a census of the whole Israelite company by the clans of its ancestral houses, listing the names, every male, head by head.”

The Context:
The book of Numbers describes Israel’s journey through the wilderness from Sinai to the Jordan River.  In Hebrew the book is named B’Midbar “in the wilderness”.  In English it is called Numbers because it opens and closes with a census of the people.

The census is a practical tool for organizing the community serving both military and social purposes.

What it Means for Advocates:
Hunger in America has no name and no face. In the Torah portion, the Israelites were commanded to record each family name. In the Torah, only the men are counted as the heads of a family. These men represented the women and children as a family unit. Our modern reality is different. Single women raising their children are the head of their family unit. Often these are the most underrepresented and most impoverished. This Torah portion reminds us to think of those who remain uncounted.

Why do you think we stretch our hearts when considering children who go hungry but we sometimes ignore the adults? Should government and private programs differentiate between men, women and children? What are some of the programs in your area designed just for women and children?

Visit a women’s shelter and bring groceries and toiletries for a family unit of one woman and two children.

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