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  • Torah Reading: Naso
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Jewish Census - "Members of the Tribe"

Immediately after giving the Ten Commandments, God tells the Jewish people to organize themselves by tribe and take a census. (That's why the fourth book of the Bible is called "Numbers.")

Isn't living in tribes sort of – well – tribal?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

It's politically correct to insist that everyone is the same – Jews, gentiles, men, women, blacks, whites, Irish, Chinese – a whole rainbow of colors swirled into one great gray stew of uniformity. But how drab! The Bible's position is vive la difference!

Every nation, every tribe, every person has something unique to offer. We contribute most if we maintain our individuality.

The last time my daughter had an earache, I took her to the doctor. Before examining her, the doctor (a Jew) said to me, "You know why I don't like religion?" (This is the pitfall of being a rabbi. My 3-year-old is screaming and suddenly I'm involved in a seminar on religion.)

"No, I don't know. Why don't you like religion?"

"Because it's parochial. When I go out with my friends, one's Chicano and one's Filipino, and I think that's the way it should be."

"The problem," I told him, "isn't that your friends are Chicano or Filipino. The problem is that since you know nothing about your own religion, you're the only one at the table with nothing to offer. Now please check her ears."

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