We need reminders. In Judaism we have many ceremonies, but they are not empty rituals, they are reminders. Constantly, we are reminded to remember the period of slavery and the exodus from Egypt. And constantly, we are reminded why we were freed and what kind of lives should we live. Today, this makes all the difference, even thousands of years after these events.
You were not freed just for a fun life, you were freed for a purpose. You owe something, you need to do something meaningful with your life, you were not freed to be part of the “me generation”.
“and God spoke to Moshe and Elazar the son Aharon the Cohen as follows: Take up the census, count the people… count all those of twenty years and upwards, all who are of military age among the Israelites shall be counted.” —(Numbers, Chapter 26, verse 1).
And then there is a hint, something that I only now noticed for the very first time. “the age should be from twenty years and upward, the same as when God had commanded Moshe and the Children of Israel upon their Exodus from the land of Egypt.” (ibid verse 4)
When discussing a draft, an obligatory period of service in the military for all, there might be those who will say…yeah, not really for me…not my thing. Well, here comes the hint, twenty years of age, remember that was the same number used for the census when you left Egypt, the land of slavery, when I took you out from Egyptian bondage where you suffered so terribly. Remember all that? Well, Freedom is not Free. You want to be free you will have to serve in the military. You will have to take part in your own protection.
The discussion of military service is followed by a reminder of the liberation from slavery. Why is this mentioned here? Why not just say the age is twenty? And, why bring up the liberation from bondage? As a reminder. I took you out of slavery, and now I demand of you to serve and make sure you never go back into slavery.
Israeli soldiers visit the gas chambers of Auschwitz – Birkenau. Remember why you are serving, remember why this is obligatory. For Freedom is never Free.
Freedom was not handed to us on a silver platter, it came on the blood of the young people, and now it is your turn to serve and protect, as others did before you. Pacifism is not an option.
Today our soldiers are trying to stop our enemies from infiltrating from underground tunnels. And today we are trying to find solutions to our enemies sending flaming kites into our lands and destroying our crops and livelihood. Today we are dealing with nuclear threats. And we know, everyone must serve, everyone must contribute. “all who are of military age among the Israelites shall be counted.”
Stand up and be counted among the warriors because we need you. Stand up and be counted among the warriors if you are a writer, a teacher, a soldier, a politician, a scientist or a publicist. We need you. Stand up and be counted because that is why Moshe led you out of Egypt to the Promised Land. A deal is a deal.
The census for the military is linked to the census after the Liberation from slavery. I believe there is a message here. A subtle hint written 3,500 years ago.