"Each man according to his camp and each man according to his flag " (1:50)

When the Israelites traveled in the desert, they traveled with flags as per their tribe. There is a controversy, whether there were 4 flags designed for 3 tribes each, or each tribe had their own flag.

However, a question can be asked in regard to verse 1:50. Why does it say "each man according to his flag" emphasizing the individual, it should have rather said "each tribe according to their flag" emphasizing the tribe. In other words, only tribes had flags, not individuals !

Why then is the verse concentrating on the individual and "his flag", and not the tribe? I would like to propose the following original answer, Bezrat Hashem: The Torah is teaching us that every individual within his own tribe felt that he was the designated "flag holder" for his tribe. T

his was very significant. Every person , naturally, wants to be part of something greater than himself. Each Israelite felt personally that he was part of G-d's army on earth. This caused a tremendous metamorphosis to take place within each Israelite.

Each Israelite felt that he represented not only his tribe , but G-d Himself. An Israelite on an individual level would work hard to change his ways for the better as a result since the "flag bearer" has to be impeccable in all respects,especially his behavior.

A person from the tribe of Zebulan, for instance, might feel that since he is the "flag bearer" for his tribe will be more honest with his weights and measures when involved with business beyond the letter of the law for this very reason, or a person from the tribe of Dan might emphasize the need to keep away from malicious gossip as a result. The Torah is telling us that the flags had an impact on a individual and personal level beyond the tribal. I would like to bring an original parable (MOSHALL) to better explain this concept, as follows: In a small village , there lived a person who was considered by many to be an ill mannered rogue. His behavior was rude, and his appearance was untidy to say the least.

He never showered, or combed his hair and was drunk most of the time. Yet , this rogue had a glorious past that few even knew about.

At 18 , he was inducted into the King's army and served with bravery for the King. He was even awarded many metals and honors because of his extraordinary service to country and King. Once a year on the King's birthday, this rogue would bath, cut his hair, shave , shine his shoes, press his uniform , shine his metals , dress in his uniform and stand at attention like he was a soldier again in the King's army in honor of the King. This happened only once a year at this time to the great shock to the villagers.

This rogue was miraculously transformed into another being for the simple reason that this rogue felt that he belonged to something greater than himself, namely to the king's army. The same can be said about the individual Israelite that felt a personal connection to his tribal flag, and had to act accordingly. What flags do we personally carry ? All of us as Jews carry G-d's Flag. Are we honest in business ? Do we speak malicious gossip? Are we apart of G-d's Honor Guard, or not? These are all very important questions that need to be answered. Even the rogue in our parable understood this concept! Why can't we?

Have a good Shabbos

This Torah thought is being dedicated to my beloved father, NACHMAN SHIMON ben YEHUDA MEIR HAKOHAN, Z"L




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