Have you ever seen a moving truck parked outside of a house? Very carefully, the movers carry out furniture, and boxes filled with dishes, books, electrical devices and more. Well, moving the portable Mishkan was not your typical moving job. It entailed a lot more than paying some mover to do the job. This job was given to the most prestigious people – Shevet Levi, the tribe of Levi. They were the Mishkan Movers!
Levi had 3 sons, Gershon, Kehas and Merari and they became the leaders of the tribe of Levi. Now, in the desert, the tribe of Levi remained split into these 3 families and each family had a specific job to do when it was time to move the Mishkan.
“Naso – Count the sons of Kehas from among the sons of Levi, from the ages of 30 and 50 years old,” HaShem commanded Moshe and Aharon.
“When it is time to travel,” HaShem continued, “it will be the job of the Kohanim to cover the holy Mishkan vessels. But the family of Kehas will actually transport these holy vessels. These men will carry the Aron (ark), the Shulchan (table), the Menorah, and the 2 altars. Also, they will carry the holy curtain that divides the Kodesh from the Kodesh HaKodoshim.”
Yes, carry these heavy objects! Imagine carrying a heavy bedroom and dining room set by hand for miles and miles in the hot, scorching desert! Well, some of the holy Mishkan objects were special and had to be carried by hand – no wagon transport. At the age of 30 to 50, the Levi’im were at the peak of their strength and with HaShem’s help were able to accomplish this.
As per command, Moshe and Aharon counted the family of Kehas.
And the total?
2,750 men between the ages of 30 and 50.
HaShem issued a stern warning to the family of Kehas, “While you carry the Aron, you may have a burning desire to stare at the holy Aron. DON’T DO IT! Or else…!”
Now comes the count and job assignments of the next 2 Levi families – Gershon and Merari. Right? Wrong!
Surprisingly, Parshas BaMidbar ends here and next week’s Parsha, Parshas Naso, will deal with the next 2 Levi families – the families of Gershon and Merari.
Kehas was Levi’s second son. So why did HaShem want his family counted before the family of Gershon, the firstborn?
This special honor was because Moshe and Aharon were members of the Kehas family.