B”H    
TORAH BRIEF
The Jewish people are a paradoxical people. We are the most divided nation on earth. Our customs vary from country to country. The Talmud is replete with debates and arguments about almost every aspect of Jewish practice.
Yet, there is an underlying unity.
Our Sags put it succinctly: “All of Israel are responsible for one another.”
The Previous Lubavticher Rebbe translated the Hebrew word for responsible (“areivim”) as intermingled, amalgamated, or united. It also has a third meaning: “sweet” All three renditions are connected: We are all responsible for one another because of our underlying unity that makes us feel goo, warm and sweet about the other.
Most of the time this unity may be submerged. However, when the Jewish people came to Mount Sinai the Torah describes their encampment in the singular as if there was only one person, unlike all the other places where their encampment is described in the plural. Our Sages comment that when they got to Mount Sinai they experienced unprecedented unity.
However, the lesson is that even when we disagree, we have to recognize that there is an underlying oneness and love between each and every Jew.
This is how we prepare for the giving of the Torah.
And this is how we prepare for the Messianic Age by demonstrating the awareness of our inherent unity and endeavoring to make this intrinsic unity an overt reality.
 
LEADERSHIP, WISDOM AND WEALTH
 
Three-Tiered Census
The book of Bamidbar, which means “in the desert,” is also referred to as the Book of Counting, or Numbers. This book contains several references to the census commanded by G‑d that was taken during the sojourn in the desert. 
When we examine the census in this week’s parsha we see that, in fact, there was a three-tiered counting: First, they counted each of the 12 tribes. Then they counted each of the four camps; each camp consisted of three tribes. The Torah then gives us the sum-total of the entire nation.
We can understand the importance of counting the Jewish nation as a whole. We can also appreciate why Moses and Aaron counted each tribe individually. But what need was there to count each of the four camps? In truth, this begs a more basic question: why were the Jewish people divided into four camps in the first place? If there were 12 distinct tribes, they should be regarded as such to highlight their individuality. We should also see the entire nation as one cohesive and united whole. Those two levels should satisfy our need to view the individual qualities of the Jewish nation as well as their collective identity.  Why is there a middle tier of four camps, each comprising three tribes and each with its own flag?
 
Yehudah, Yisachar and Zevulun: Strength, Wisdom and Wealth
Camp number one was the camp of Yehudah. He was accompanied by the tribes of Yisachar and Zevulun. What did these three tribes have in common? Or, more precisely, how did these three tribes complement each other?
The Hungarian Chassidic work Tapuchei Chaim explains that these three tribes represent the three virtues which are needed for the Divine presence to dwell with a person. These virtues are the traits of wisdom, strength and wealth.
Obviously, we must understand that these three traits are to be understood in the way they are described in Ethics of the Fathers:
“Who is wise? One who learns from every person.
Who is strong? One who conquers his inclination.
Who is rich? One who is content with his lot.”
When we find these traits of wisdom, strength and wealth in a righteous person, we must realize that they are reflections and manifestations of their spiritual counterparts.
Yehudah is described as a lion. Hence the tribe of Yehudah personifies the trait of strength and leadership.
The tribe of Yisachar was known for its scholarship. Hence, it epitomizes the trait of wisdom.
The tribe of Zevulun were prosperous merchants, thus embodying the trait of wealth.
 
Reuven, Shimon and Gad: Wealth, Wisdom and Strength
Camp number two was the camp of Reuven.  The tribes in this camp also represented the same three traits, but in reverse order:
Reuven was known for its large holdings of cattle, hence Reuven exemplified wealth.  The tribe of Shimon taught the young; hence, they carried the banner of wisdom.  Gad was known for its strength as indicated by Jacob’s blessing of his son Gad’s martial deeds.
 
Ephraim, Menasheh and Benyamin: Wisdom, Wealth and Strength
The third camp, that of Ephraim, also rearranges the three traits. Ephraim was a student of Jacob, who taught him Torah.
Menasheh, Joseph’s son, was his administrator in Egypt, dealing with the economy and wealth of the kingdom. Thus, the tribe of Menasheh symbolizes wealth.
Benyamin was likened by his father Jacob to a wolf, a symbol of strength.
 
Dan, Asher and Naphtali: Strength, Wealth and Wisdom
The fourth camp enumerates the three representations of the three traits in yet a fourth order:
The first is the tribe of Dan, the progenitor of Samson, known for its strength.
Asher was the tribe that produced oil, and whose name is a cognate of prosperity and wealth.
Naphtali, is described as “one who delivers beautiful words,” referring to words of Torah; hence the trait of wisdom.
 
From the discussion above we gather that each camp had a tribe with the dominant role, complemented by the other two tribes in the camp.
 
The Camp of Yehudah Dominates
However, the most dominant of the four camps was that of Yehudah, which would lead the way for the other three camps when they were on the move.
The first and most important camp, and tribe, was Yehudah, characterized by the trait of strength, the hallmark of leadership. Yehudah was the king of the tribes.  His descendent David established the Davidic line, from which will come Moshiach, who represents the ultimate in leadership.
 
Getting Out of Exile in Three Steps: Leadership, Wisdom and Wealth
Now that we have a better understanding of the symbolism of the four camps, we must ask ourselves what is the lesson for us today? How does the knowledge of the makeup of the four camps relate to our lives today?
The answer lies in the name of the Book, “Bamidbar - in the desert.” The desert was seen by our Sages as a metaphor for the Exile that we have suffered on the way to the Final Redemption.
Now that we are poised to conclude our sojourn in exile, it behooves us to reflect on the formation of the Jewish people as they began to trek through the desert.
The fact that the camp of Yehudah led the travels is an indication that when we travel through the “desert of nations” (our exile among the nations), we must depend on leadership to navigate our way through the winding roads and pathways of Galus so that we reach the goal of the Messianic Age.
However, the emphasis on Moshiach the monarch (Yehudah) has to be complemented with Yisachar, the scholar. The way to survive exile and ultimately bring Moshiach is through Torah study, particularly the parts of Torah that relate to Redemption.  We must study these tracts in preparation for the time that Moshiach will become the teacher par excellence of the entire Jewish nation, not just their leader.
In short, the first step towards Geulah is to recognize and accept the authority and leadership of Moshiach, for the Talmud suggests that in every generation there is one who is worthy of that role and it is our responsibility to accept his leadership.
That acceptance must be coupled with learning about Redemption.
The third step involves the trait of wealth. In this context it means that we should aspire to accumulate as much spiritual wealth as possible.  Our goal is to be able to enter the Messianic Age carrying all the sparks of holiness that G‑d embedded within the world and which we liberated using the material world in His service.  By liberating these sparks of G‑d, we have paved the way for Moshiach and Redemption.
The Jews liberated from Egypt left with great material wealth. Our Sages teach that the riches which they took reflected the spiritual wealth they had also liberated. This refers to all the sparks of holiness embedded within the physical objects.
Similarly, when the Redemption arrives, we will bring with us the wealth of accumulated sparks, liberated through our performance of mitzvahs, and accomplishments of the last 2,000 years.  Moshiach will not have to come as a “poor man riding on a donkey” but rather carried on a heavenly cloud in the most majestic manner. The glorious clouds that will transport Moshiach, and all of us, have been created by our multifarious accomplishments; i.e., the spiritual wealth that we collected.