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    Numbers – B’midbar

    The opening chapters of Sefer B’midbar are concerned with the census taken by Moses of male Israelites aged 20-plus who are able to go to war.

    The total Israelite population – excluding women, children and Levites – is just over 600,000. Add Levites, women and children and you reach a total of something like two million. The English name “Numbers” is a translation of the title which the Septuagint Greek version gives to the Book.

    The Torah readings of B’midbar this year coincide with population surveys which indicate that the current numbers of world Jewry have not yet reached the pre-Holocaust figure of about 17 million but we are slowly getting there.

    The fastest growing section of Jews is the Orthodox, who have a higher birth rate than any other section. It is estimated that within 20 years two in seven Jews will be charedi (ultra-orthodox).

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