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Daily manna from the Torah by Dr Ketriel Blad

Pinchas 41-2

Snake mouth

Numbers 26:5-51

The sons of Asher according to their families were: of Jimna, the family of the Jimnites; of Jesui, the family of the Jesuites; of Beriah, the family of the Beriites.

Num. 26:44 NKJV

What is the secret to the Jewish people's preservation?

In this week's parashahפרשה, section – the word mishpachahמשפחה, family, clan – appears more than 80 times. The people of Israel are the people of families. Family is the basis of its preservation. All cultures and peoples that have introduced corruption in their families have disappeared throughout history. Family preservation and faithfulness within the covenant of marriage is one of the most fundamental elements of the sacred people. If the family is disintegrated the people will disappear.

The Hebrew text introduces a repetition after the main names of each family; first the name and then the letters heyה  – at the beginning and yudי  – at the end of each name are introduced. The letter hey is the definite article and the yud at the end transforms the name into an adjective. The letters yud and hey are the first two letters of the Name of the Eternal. Sometimes, these two letters appear alone as an abbreviation of the sacred Name. We find an example in the word halleluiah, which is composed of the two words hallelu – which means "praise" (plural imperative) and yah which are those two first letters of the Name.

By putting His name around each of Israel's families, the Eternal wanted to show that each one of them belonged to Him. But not only that, His name appears before and after each family name, allowing us to understand that He kept each family in or within His name. He was before and after them and placed His own seal upon them.

This is also a sign, as the Midrash says, that the Egyptians didn't rape the women when they were slaves but that each family had kept their purity to be able to be counted as children of each father in the sacred people's.

The letter yud represents the masculine side and the hey the feminine side. Both letters at the beginning and end of each family name shows the union between mother and father for the formation of that family. The fact that the hey – the feminine – is placed at the beginning of the family names can be interpreted, according to the Talmud, as the mothers being placed first to highlight their merit of being faithful and keeping family purity in Egypt.

In Psalm 122:4b it's written: “...the tribes of Jah...” where the two first letters of the sacred Name (יה) appear. The tribes of Israel were dedicated to the Eternal by families and that's why His name has been put as an ornament around the name of each family.

The name Jimna – ימנה – that appears in this verse already has the two letters of the Eternal at the beginning and the end since birth. That's why the Torah doesn't add both letters in the family name, only the hey at the beginning –הימנה  – to honour their mother's faithfulness.

The Eternal encamps around the person and family who surrendered to Him as it is written in Psalm 34:7: "The angel of the LORD encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them.” (NKJV) In Psalm 139:5 it's written: “You have hedged me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me.” (NKJV) In John 17:12 it's written: “While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.” (NKJV)

Blessed be the Eternal who has placed His name around our family!


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