Sefer Bamidbar is known as ספר הפקודים, since it begins with a census of Klal Yisroel. The parshah teaches us that the mitzvah to count all males of Shevet Levi begins at the age of one month. The rest of Klal Yisroel was counted from age twenty when they were eligible for being drafted into the army. By that calculation, wouldn’t it be logical that the Leviim would be counted from when their service begins, which is thirty years rather than thirty days?
Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch writes that, in reality, the service of the Leviim began when they were thirty days old. Even though they did not begin serving in the Mishkon until they were thirty, the Leviim also performed a different role in Klal Yisroel – which began at the age of one month. They were the individuals entrusted with the רוחניות of all Klal Yisroel. They were the poskim, the rabbonim, the dayonim, and the rebbeim.
Rav Hirsch explains that in order to create this “spiritual guardian” who will be a role model and rebbe, one cannot wait to start raising and training him when he is thirty or even three years old. Such an individual must be reared for that job from the time he is thirty days old! Since his training begins as an infant, he is already considered as serving in his role as a Levi from then, which is why he is counted from the age of thirty days!
Just as when we raise a Levi we must begin when he is an infant, so too in order to מחנך our children properly, we must begin at an early age. We learn from this how every action and every exposure that a young child experiences will affect his ability to be an individual who personifies the true eved Hashem and grow to be a Godol B’Yisroel.
In a similar way, we should celebrate the upcoming Yom Tov of Shavuos, זמן מתן תורתנו. It should be a celebration in which our children will feel the importance that we place on this Yom Tov and on what it commemorates. In this way, they will be able to experience on their level what Matan Torah means and they will aspire to grow in learning and mitzvos so that they too can be counted among Klal Yisroel.
Rabbi Gidon Goldberg
Head of School