April 14, 2024
Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.
April 14, 2024
Search
Close this search box.

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Counting Is an Act of Love

At the beginning of parshat Bamidbar—fittingly at the start of the “Book of Numbers”—Moshe is instructed for the third time to count the people. As we have all learned throughout our years of Jewish education, Hashem gives Moshe the commandment to count the people because He loves us. Just like we count our precious jewels or the things we hold most dear, Hashem loves us—His chosen ones, His children. This process of counting—and the way it is done—is not only a beautiful message to us as the Jewish people, but also to us, as parents and educators.

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, z”l, comments that the very specific language used in the pasuk, “seu et rosh” or “lift up the head,” is there to teach us that not only are we to count to find out the total number of the group, but since each individual is required to lift his head, we learn that every individual matters. In our schools today, the concept of the child as an individual and teaching the child—as opposed to teaching the class or subject—is something that each and every one of your children’s teachers strive to do every day. This is no easy task. Differentiating instruction for different types of learners—embracing the social-emotional learning in our classrooms—striving to create atmospheres of kindness and inclusivity, and teaching and reaching the “whole child” are daily conversations, themes and topics of immersive, ongoing professional development sessions.

Further, the parsha tells us that the people are also counted according to their families, which teaches us the importance of each individual family and all of the different parenting styles from which our students come. Our parents are our first role models and play such an integral part in shaping the people whom we become. As educators, it is important to form relationships with not only our students, but also with their parents, to fully appreciate each child as an individual. Effective communication, collaboration, parenting workshops and home-school partnership are critical.

Finally, we are counted according to our flags or tribes. Rabbi Mordechai Schnaidman points out that today, we can easily interpret that to mean our greater community backgrounds. Are we Sephardic, Ashkenazic,Yemenite, or, simply, what is our family’s country of origin? To what shul do we belong, and what are the other communal institutions that shape our lives? What are the family values that are held dear? What are the unique and special minhagim, or customs and traditions, that are of vital importance and significance to that child? Culturally, where does the child come from? Educators must know and respect the backgrounds of each of their students in order to fully connect, understand, and reach each child and each parent. Most importantly, educators must find ways to reinforce these in school to reflect what is happening at home. These are all essential pieces in successfully educating our children.

As we think about parshat Bamidbar and the act of counting the Jewish people, let us remember that counting—which may seem like a simple, mundane task—is certainly not. It is an act of love and care for our children, their families and communities and a way to ensure that every individual is seen, heard and valued.

And, by the way, the next time you see your child’s teacher counting and recounting his or her class, know that it is proof of the love and care that he or she has for each one of your special children. Thank you for entrusting us—your community educators—with your most precious gems. We do not take it for granted.


Jessica Kohn, affectionately known as Morah Jessica, is the Early Childhood Director and Founding Educator of Ben Porat Yosef. She is passionate about nurturing and educating each child based upon his or her precious uniqueness.

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles