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Bamidbar- Strength in Numbers

Posted on א׳ בסיון ה׳תש״ע (May 14, 2010) | in Bamidbar | by

All the men assigned to the camp of Dan number 157,600. They will set out last, under their standards. (Numbers 2:31)    Rashi comments in Parshas Beha’aloscha (10:25) that the tribe of Dan went last to collect anything (or anyone) that was left behind when the 12 tribes ventured from place to place. The people of Dan were to perform the mitzva of hashavas aveida, the returning of lost objects to their rightful owner. After all, says Rashi, they were the largest tribe!    The Yam Simcha (Rabbi Yisrael Moshe Fried) asks the obvious question- what is the connection between the (large) population of Dan and the fact that they were supposed to travel last and collect forgotten items?!

  He answers by saying that the tribe of Dan needed to perform this particular miztva for self-preservation..     There is a mystical concept known as ayin hara, the evil eye, which means that when one is wealthy and has many possessions, this leaves he/she vulnerable to unwanted scrutiny and jealousy. This (hint of) jealousy causes harmful spirits to descend and possibly destroy what the owner has. This phenomenon is so even if the person is not purposefully flaunting their wealth! Also, this concept (I believe) can apply not just to material possessions but even to non-material things like number of children one has, etc.    The tribe of Dan was the largest, and with so many children and presumably other things as well- they were vulnerable to the evil eye. However, (as Rabbi Fried conjectures) the way to defend against the evil eye is to do good for others. This altruism will then combat any harmful spirits. This makes sense, of course. A wealthy individual in the community who is not haughty about his/her riches, whom also gives a lot of charity to support communal causes- is not looked upon with contempt but rather with respect.     Though th tendency might be to look upon weathy people with scorn; one who uses his/her money for God-ly causes should be celebrated.     Therefore, God positioned the tribe of Dan at the end of the line in order to pick up any lost items. This merit, for there are many commandements which are fulfilled by returning a lost object, would keep them out of harms’ way, or in this case, eye. This, I feel, would actually turn the sitution in Dan’s favor. They would be looked upon with respect, as the strongholds of the Jewish People.     Rav Rosner added that incredibly, the name of the nasi, chief, of the tribe of Dan was none other than Achiezer ben Amishadai. ‘Achi’ ‘ezer’ means an aid to my brother!

  Good Shabbos from Oceanside.   Yaakov

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