Why Do Levites Start Service at 30? – 5782 Nasso Aliyah by Aliyah

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There is a commandment given to Israel that once every 7 years, during the Festival of Sukkot, they should assemble ALL the people to hear the Torah read to them. (Deuteronomy 31:10-12). Chazal (a Hebrew acronym that means, “our sages of blessed memory”) instituted a continuous cycle of reading the Torah. They defined weekly sections so that Jews would be reading and hearing Torah every single week and complete the 5 Books of Moses in a set time. The teachers I learned under taught me to follow the yearly Torah cycle and I discovered that Chabad divides their Torah study into daily aliyot. When the Torah portion is read in its entirety on Shabbat in the synagogue, there are seven sections, seven aliyot. The Chabad tradition is to study one aliyah each day, starting Sunday and going through to Shabbat. One who does this can get a double dose of the same Torah Portion each week.


It’s time to explore Torah Portion 35 Nasso, aliyah by aliyah. I will be using the Sephardic aliyot.

Numbers 4:21-7:89

Aliyah 1: Numbers 4:21-33

Numbers 4:22 Take a census of the descendants of Gershon also, by clans and families;

NUM 4:22

It seems that according to Torah, families make clans, clans make tribes and some number of tribes make a nation.

Numbers 4:23 count all those between thirty and fifty years old, all who will enter the corps doing the work of serving in the tent of meeting.

NUM 4:23

The youngest soldier we to be twenty years old, but the youngest Levite in service was to be 30. Why should service of the Mishkan start 10 years later than combat service?

Numbers 4:24 The Gershon families are to be responsible for serving and for transporting loads.

NUM 4:24

I would think any Levite could do any of the various auxiliary Mishkan services, but HaShem even has a plan for these more minor aspects. Maybe they aren’t as minor as they might appear.

Numbers 4:25 They are to carry the curtains of the tabernacle, the tent of meeting, its covering, the fine leather covering above it, the screen for the entrance to the tent of meeting,

NUM 4:25

This is most of the infrastructure of the Mishkan.

Numbers 4:26 the tapestries for the courtyard, and the screen for the entrance to the courtyard by the tabernacle and around the altar, along with the ropes and all the utensils they need for their service; and they are to do the work connected with these things.

NUM 4:26

What work are the Gershonites to do with these utensils they transport?

Numbers 4:27 Aharon and his sons are to supervise all the work of the Gershon clan in transporting loads and serving, and to assign them who is to carry what.

NUM 4:27

It was recently stated that the Levites were to be given to the Cohenim, I see this as one aspect of the fulfillment of that proclamation.

Numbers 4:28 This is how the Gershon families are to serve in the tent of meeting, and they are to be under the direction of Itamar the son of Aharon the cohen.

NUM 4:28

Itamar is taking on a lot of responsibilities. I wonder if this is because HaShem knows Aaron’s days are drawing to a close.

Numbers 4:31 Their service for the tent of meeting will be to carry the frames, crossbars, posts and sockets of the tabernacle;

NUM 4:31

M’rari takes a less honorable, but vitally important burden, the actual structure that holds the Mishkan together and upright.

Numbers 4:32 also the posts for the surrounding courtyard, with their sockets, tent pegs, ropes and other accessories, and everything having to do with their service. You are to assign particular loads to specific persons by name.

NUM 4:32

Itamar is to direct the structural burdens to men by name. Why is that? What do you think that means?

Aliyah 2: Numbers 4:34-49

Numbers 4:47-48

all those between thirty and fifty years old who were part of those working to serve and working to carry loads in the tent of meeting, yielded a total of 8,580 persons.

NUM 4:47-48

How was the amount of off-duty Levites sustained? It seems like there could be only a few dozen to one hundred active in the Tabernacle, so what would the others have done?

Aliyah 3: Numbers 5:1-6:27

Numbers 6:27 “In this way they are to put my name on the people of Isra’el, so that I will bless them.”

NUM 6:27

What does it mean to put a name on something? HaShem speaks of making His name dwell in the Land of Israel. What does that mean and is that related to this here. Additionally, how does saying what is known as The Aaronic Benediction accomplish that?

Aliyah 4: Numbers 7:1-11

Numbers 7:9 But to the descendants of K’hat he gave none, because their duties involved the holy articles, which they carried on their own shoulders.

NUM 7:9

This idea of some things being too special to carry except by personal attention is interesting.

Aliyah 5: Numbers 7:12-41

Numbers 7:13 He offered one silver dish weighing 130 shekels [three-and-a-quarter pounds] and one silver basin of seventy shekels (using the sanctuary shekel) [one-and-three-quarters pounds], both full of fine flour mixed with olive oil for a grain offering;

NUM 7:13

I wonder where the idea came from to offer these items in their specific quantities?

Aliyah 6: Numbers 7:42-71

Numbers 7:46 one male goat as a sin offering,

NUM 7:46

Is there a default humility in the context of the sacrificial system? All these princes brought an unspecified sin offering. It feels like an acknowledgement that all fall short and that they are relying on and trusting in G-d’s grace.

Aliyah 7: Numbers 7:72-89

Numbers 7:84 This was the offering for dedicating the altar which was given by the leaders of Isra’el on the day of its anointing: twelve silver dishes, twelve silver basins and twelve gold pans.

NUM 7:84

Was the consecration of the altar these non-animal offerings alone or was it the whole lot brought? It reads to me as if it could be the former. Earlier when the instructions were given, the altar and other items were to be dedicated by the sprinkling of blood and oil. Perhaps these offerings were brought in honor of the consecration, not in order to effect it.


Closing Questions

Before I go, I want to answer questions raised at the beginning of this session. These are my opinions, based on my time studying under various teachers and while I try to set aside any commentaries while examining each aliyah, I will allow myself to bring some back in for this section. I will disclose where I am getting these ideas where relevant.

  1. Why Do Levites Start Service at 30?
  2. Why Did the LORD Assign Some Duties by Name?
  3. How Can Words “Place a Name” on a People?

That concludes my journey through Nasso for the year 5782.

I hope these words have been a blessing to you.

May our Heavenly Father give you peace and joy.

This is Matthew and I am Walking In Liberty.

Published by MJ Muñoz

Husband. Father. Believer. Writing a children's books series inspired by tokusatsu. Weekly Toku Analysis - https://mjmunoz.com/category/analyzer/

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