THEMES of Featured Mystical Classics Articles

Complex Numbers
The pluses and minuses of counting
The Shelah teaches that as a rule, nothing counted or measured attracts blessing. This rule applies, however, only when the numbering or measurement is intrinsically physical. However, in the context of the spiritual world, a number does not imply limitation. On the contrary, once something is numbered it will have an infinite existence.
Numbering Angels and Armies
Kabbalah teaches that angelic armies are summoned to wage Israel's wars.
For the duration of the people's wanderings in the desert, when the Shechinah could be seen in the Tabernacle, Israel became the carrier of G-d's throne ["merkava"] instead of the angels, the angels meanwhile assuming a subordinate role, acting as Israel's means of transport and armies.
Standards of Celestial Conduct
Moses arranged the tribes according to the pattern of the celestial worlds.
"Every man shall encamp by his own standard, with the sign of their fathers house."

Rashi comments that each standard was to have a colored cloth hanging in it, the color corresponding to that of the stone in the breastplate of the High Priest on which the name of that tribe was engraved. Rabbi Abraham ibn Ezra comments that the four signs on the four main standards were similar to the four figures that the prophet Ezekiel saw in the Divine Chariot.
Counting with a Blessing
The census here was a profound event which touched on the very core of the Jewish spirit.
The Book of Numbers opens with a census. The Lubavitcher Rebbe explains that when a group of people are counted, all are equal. When the Jewish people were counted, personalities, talents, wealth, knowledge or esteem are not counted; rather our very identities. Thus, the nucleus of our Jewish identities is stimulated and brought to the surface.
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