שביבי אש
לסדר במדבר

איש על דגלו באותות לבית אבותם יחנו בני ישראל מנגד סביב לאוהל מועד יחנו

Every man of the people of Israel shall camp by his own standard, with the ensign of their father's house; far from the Tent of Meeting shall they camp (Numbers 2:2)

In the Midrash (Numbers Rabbah 2:2): Thus it says (Psalms 20:6), "We will shout for joy in Thy salvation, and in the name of our G-d we will set our standards" (נרננה בישועתך ובשם אלהינו נדגול)

Our master says that the Midrash wanted to show us the difference between the flags that the children of Israel followed on their journeys and the flags that all the other nations raise on the day of battle. To them a flag is merely a sign by which all the warriors can orient themselves and find their place in battle. When the divisions of their armies are organized, individual soldiers are not arranged by family origins, but are distributed randomly into divisions and battalions. Not so the children of Israel and their flags, for each man travels alongside his own family. The Israelites dwell among their own tribes, and then the Eternal dwells in honor among them. The sages of the Talmud deduce (Yevamot 42a) from the verse (Genesis 17:7) "to be G-d to you and your descendants after you" (להיות לך לאלהים ולזרעך אחריך) that a woman may not remarry until it can be determined whether, if a child were born, it would be the child of her first husband born after nine months, or the child or her second husband born after seven months. And Rashi comments that the Shehinah dwells only among those whose legitimacy can be confirmed, those whose future offspring will have an unquestionable lineage.

The Scripture therefore writes "each with the ensign of his father's house" (איש על דגלו באותות לבית אבותם), because it is not enough that there just be ensigns. The ensigns must be "of his father's house," representing the source of his existence. This is not the practice of those schooled in battle and of those who draw the bow of heroes. That is why the Midrash identifies this verse with the verse "We shall shout for joy in Thy victory, And in the name of our G-d we will set up our standards," because (Psalms 20:8) "some boast of chariots and some boast of horses, but we boast of the name of the Lord our G-d" (אלה ברכב ואלה בסוסים יערכו מלחמה, אבל אנחנו בשם אלהינו נזכיר), Who has put His sanctuary in our midst. That is why the Children of Israel carry the ensigns of their fathers' houses and go forward while surrounding the Tabernacle where the glory of the Eternal is seen, for that is where He has selected His dwelling place .

ואלה תולדות אהרן ומשה ביום דבר ה' את משה בהר סיני

These are the generations of Aaron and Moses in the day that the Lord spoke with Moses in Mount Sinai. (Numbers 3:1)

Rashi comments: The Scripture mentions only the sons of Aaron who were called the generations of Moses because he taught them Torah

One may ask: did Moses not teach Torah to all the people of Israel, so that they may all be considered his children? Why then were only the sons of Aaron referred to as the sons of Moses?

And concerning the passage "in the day that the Lord spoke with Moses in Mount Sinai" (ביום דבר ה' את משה בהר סני), Rashi comments: These (the sons of Aaron) became his children, because he taught them what he heard from the Almighty

This is also difficult, because, according to Rashi's explanation, the Scripture should have written "in the day that Moses spoke to the sons of Aaron." But if it were not for the words of Rashi, it would have appeared to our master to say that the reason that the sons of Aaron were also considered to be the sons of Moses is that the sons of Aaron died instead of Moses and Aaron on the day on which Moses finished the construction of the Tabernacle. The sons of Aaron venerated the Holy One of Israel, as Moses then said to Aaron (Leviticus 10:3): "This is what the Lord spoke, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come near to me." Moses continued: "I knew that the Sanctuary would be sanctified by one of those who was acquainted with Him, and I thought that it would be either I or you." For did not the Eternal say to Moses on the day on which He commanded him to build a Sanctuary (Exodus 29:43): "And there I will meet with the children of Israel; and [the Sanctuary] will be sanctified by My glory (ונועדתי לך שמה ונקדש בכבודי)"? Thus, Nadab and Abihu died in place of Moses and Aaron when they brought up the strange fire. A son is considered as the knee of his father because the father is built up from the son even after the father's death so that the father's flame is not extinguished. Thus, anyone who dies in place of another may be considered as a son to him, because he added to his life. The Scripture says "these are the generations of Aaron and Moses," because they are also the generations of Moses. And when the Scripture refers to "the day that the Lord spoke with Moses in Mount Sinai," it is referring to the moment when G-d said to Moses "and there I will meet with the children of Israel; and [the Sanctuary] will be sanctified by My glory." The sons of Aaron died instead of Moses and thus became sons to Moses, because, as a result of them, Moses was able to remain alive.