‘And Moshe counted them according to the Word of Hashem…’ (Bamidbar 3:16)
“Moshe said before HaKadosh Baruch Hu: ‘How can I enter into the midst of their tents to know the count of their infants?’ Said HaKadosh Baruch Hu to him: ‘You do what is yours; and I will do what is mine.’ Moshe would go and stand at the entrance of the tent, and the Shechinah would go in front before him. And a Heavenly Voice would go out from the tent and say: ‘Such-and-such infants there are in this tent’. Therefore it says ‘according to the Word of Hashem’.” (Rashi HaKadosh from Tanchuma 16).
As is explained, Moshe Rabbeinu didn’t know how he could enter the tents, as it would not be proper. So Hashem told him how the count would be able to happen. Thus, the count was literally ‘according to the Word of Hashem’.
‘To Shimon; Shelumiel son of TzuriShaddai.’ (Bamidbar 1:6)
In the Midrash Rabbah on Parshas Pinchas and Gemara Sanhedrin (82) it is taught that Shelumiel was called three names; Shelumiel ben TzuriShaddai, Shaul ben HaCanaanis, and Zimri ben Salu (the person who did the thing with Cosbi). So then we might ask; what was his name?
“And what appears on this” writes HaRav Zalman Sorotzkin zt”l; “that his name was Shelumiel ben TzuriShaddai, and when he was a righteous person he was called this name. And when he began to turn from the Way of Hashem… and he stood up and changed his name and his father’s name to names… And since he changed his name, he changed to another man… to be a sinner and to cause sin to the masses, until they renamed him Zimri ben Salu.”
“And from this we learn” continues Rav Sorotzkin zt”l; “that a Jew who changes his name and his father’s name to names of gentiles, he commits lewdness to himself by way of going in the ways of the gentiles and in their statutes and is likely to sin and cause sin to the masses.” (Oznayim LaTorah).
‘And Hashem spoke to Moshe… in the second year from their Going out from the land of Egypt, saying: Lift up the heads…’ (Bamidbar 1:1-2)
In the censuses of Sefer Shemos, the Jewish People were counted as a whole, but now, we were counted in Tribes and different units:
HaRav Yaakov Kamenetzky zt”l notes this, and he explains that until there was one Central Point for the Jewish People -- i.e. a Mishkan, counting us this way would have caused strife, etc. as we would all identify with our own Tribe.
But once we had the Mishkan -- the Central Point of the Jewish People, representing the Service of Hashem, the Jews could be counted in different Tribes and there would be no fear of arguments and strife. (The Stone Edition Chumash; p. 727 -- from Emes L’Yaakov).
‘And Hashem spoke to Moshe in the Wilderness of Sinai, in the Tent of Meeting…’ (Bamidbar 1:1)
The Torah was given on Har Sinai, the lowest of the mountains, to impress upon us the importance of humility.
However, one must be cautious that humility, feeling oneself to be small, should not develop into atzvus (depression). Service of Hashem requires that one be in a state of Simcha (joy).
Moed (as in the Ohel Moed -- Tent of Meeting) can mean like a Yom Tov (Holiday), a day of joy. The above verse, ‘And Hashem spoke to Moshe in the Wilderness of Sinai, in the Tent of Meeting…’ can be understood to mean ‘(be) as humble as the Wilderness of Sinai, but joyful as a Moed’. (The Noam Elimelech -- Rebbe Elimelech of Lizhensk zt”l in Four Chassidic Masters; p. 58).
Parshas Bamidbar, as we know, most often falls around Shavuos -- usually beforehand. Explains HaRav Moshe Feinstein zt”l, coming into the Festival of Accepting the Torah (Shavuos), we might start thinking; maybe we aren’t that important. Maybe I just don’t matter.
When Rebbe Chaim of Sanz zt”l (the Divrei Chaim) was only four years old, he could recite from memory all 613 Mitzvos, in the order given by the Rambam zt”l.
People asked him; “Why did you choose to memorize this material in particular?”
And he replied: “Soldiers are required to know all of the orders which their commander gives. We Jews are also soldiers, in the Army of Hashem, and must, therefore, thoroughly know all of His orders and His orders are the Commandments of the Torah, the תּרי"ג Mitzvos!”
The young Reb Chaim zt”l paused, then added: “I yearn with all my heart to be a good soldier in Hashem’s Army. That is why I chose to learn the Mitzvos by heart.” (Tales of Tzaddikim, Bamidbar p. 14).
A Gut Shabbos to all!