Boss Babies: B’midbar 2022

by Adam J. Rosenbaum

Pre-Game Chatter: Are today’s children growing up too fast? Do we put too much pressure on our kids? Or, perhaps, not enough?

As the Israelites organize their community, the ages of recognized Levites might be surprising:

The Pitch: “Record the Levites by ancestral house and by clan; record every male among them from the age of one month up.” – Numbers 3:15

Swing #1: “Not everyone is included in this number [of Israelites counted in the census]. … As for the Levites, they are not included in this counting but are subject to a separate census. These total 22,000 men.” – Ellen Frankel, Ph.D., The Five Books of Miriam

Swing #2: “The logic of the distinction is fairly apparent: the Levites were a hereditary group, and a male became a member of the group as soon as he was deemed viable, at the age of thirty days, according to the definition of viability in the priestly votive system of biblical Israel.” – Baruch A. Levine, Numbers 1-20

Swing #3: “The reason why they were not counted from twenty years and up is that they would not participate in any wars, and from 30 days of age and up they could be used to redeem firstborns of the other tribes.” – Chizkuni

Late-Inning Questions: Should the Levites have been counted differently than the other tribes? Does their unique role in the community necessitate different treatment? Should a person’s uniqueness overshadow what they have in common with others?

On-Deck at TBT: We look forward to an overnight of learning at our Tikkun Leyl Shavuot, which will take place at TBT for the first time in three years. Join us in-person or via livestream beginning at 8pm Saturday.

The Big Inning at the End: Speaking of putting a lot of pressure on the young, Joe Nuxhall made his Major League debut with the Cincinnati Reds at the age of 15 in 1944 and gave up five runs in ⅔ of an inning. Thankfully, years later, Nuxhall returned to the Reds as an adult and was an effective pitcher — and then a beloved broadcaster — over the course of a unique baseball life.

Shabbat Shalom, and soon, Chag Sameach!