Parshas Bamidbar begins with a series of "countings" of the Jews in the desert. It is no great wonder that the book of Bamidbar is sometimes referred to as "Chumash Hapikudim" or as the English Bibles call it, the Book of Numbers.
Following Hashem's command to count the Jewish people, the parsha methodically performs such a count, which is set out in detail from Bamidbar 1:20-1:47. Following the listing of the count for each tribe (other than the tribe of Levi) the Torah gives a final tally of 603,550 Jews.
A number of pesukim after the end of the count, the Torah starts a discussion of how the Jews travelled in the desert. The Torah then indicates that there were four groups (one in each direction) and each group was comprised of three tribes. The Torah then again lists each tribe's individual census before indicating at Bamidbar 2:32 that in total, all of the tribes combined to have 603,550 Jews (again other than Levi).
The obvious question is, why does the Torah need to give a second tally? We know that since the Torah was written by Hashem, there are no superfluous words. Indeed, the great sages of the Gemara were able to discern meaning in seemingly excess letters in words. So why the double count?
The Medrash answers that the second count is an indication of how dear the Jewish people are to Hashem. By example, the old nursery rhyme that "the king is in his counting house, counting all his money" is indicative of how dear the money is to the King. When a person has something that is important to him, he will look to count and recount, deriving pleasure from each successive act. I recall doing the same with baseball cards as a child and I see it in my son Moshe who has 12 Transformers. He will play with them together or separately, but occasionally will count them and then announce "I have 12 Transformers." Why? Because he loves them.
The Ramban writes that the count is performed twice to show that from the day of the first count in chapter 1, through the day of the second count at the end of chapter 2, no Jew had died, despite the fact that twenty one days had passed. While I am no actuary, I'm certain that there is a mathematical computation or algorithm for figuring out how many people in a population of 603,550 will die over twenty one days. The Ramban writes that this shows that Hashem performed a great miracle.
While in fact the miracle was great, why are so many verses devoted to the topic?
R' Frand answered the question by quoting to a R' Leb Rotkin (the spelling on his name is a guess on my part) who heard it in the Yeshiva in Kletsk. R' Rotkin related that the use of so many pesukim is indicative of how valuable a Jewish life is. It is well known that a Jew may violate almost every Biblical commandment to save another Jew's life. As such, if a person is ill, he can be driven by a Jew to the hospital on the Sabbath. Similarly, while Yom Kippur is our holiest day, a person may eat if she will become ill by not doing so. Why do these rules exist? Because we believe that the life is extraordinarily valuable and that anyone who saves a Jewish life has saved an entire world. This principle is supported by the great miracle that no one died during the time period, which Hashem relates over numerous "extra" pesukim - for the purpose of demonstrating how dear each Jewish life is to Him.
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