Dan & Gad!

Months before entering into Israel, when the Jews were encamped at the banks of the Jordan River in the Moav region, G-d instructed Moshe and Elozar the High Priest to take a census of the nation.

The Torah lists the number of each of the individual tribes and then sums up the total number of the nation.

I wish to share a few interesting details. The total of this census was 601,730 males between the ages of 20 and 60 years old. In the original census taken 39 years earlier at the beginning of their sojourn in the desert the amount was similar, 603, 550.

The original 603,500 were punished and died in the desert because they sinned by believing the spies negative report about the land of Israel, and not trusting in G-d’s promise. However, the women of that generation trusted in G-d and yearned for the land and were thus not subjected to punishment and they entered the land.

Rashi explains that when Moshe initially took responsibility for the Jews during their travels in the desert, the Jews were counted. Now that Moshe was nearing the end of his life and was giving over the mantle of leadership to his devoted student Yehoshua, he ended his mission and ‘returned’ the nation by count.

The tribal head Dan had only one son, Chushim. On the surface, the future looked bleak for the number of Dan’s future offspring. Yet, the Torah relates that his tribe numbers came in at 64,400, much higher than most of the other tribes! Similarly, yet on a greater scale – G-d created a single person Adam, and the entire world is populated through him and Eve. Our Sages teach us from this a lesson of encouragement; one person (you and I) have the capability of creating an entire world!

One of the tribe’s names was Gad. The name of Gad is formed by the letters, Gimel and Daled.

The Talmud in explaining the order of the Alef-Bais relates that the letter Gimel represents Gemilas Chesed – loving kindness. The actual shape of the Gimel has its foot leaning in the direction of the next letter the Daled. The root of the letter Daled is, Dal, which means poor. The letter Daled is shaped with a top horizontal bar facing a bit towards the Gimel and mostly away from the Gimel – as a display of the feelings of the poor. He has the inner pride to turn away from being dependent on the generosity of the giver, yet out of desperation and need he embarrassingly extends a small part of his hand to accept assistance.

There are two ways one can give Tzadaka, either in a quiet way, or in a public way where he receives honor and accolades for the contribution. There is a drawback to each way. If one only gives quietly, people may assume that he does not give and people will not be inspired to give themselves. And when one receives accolades for giving, he risks the possibility of becoming arrogant.

I recall talking to a straightforward elderly man who mentioned someone’s name and said about them that they are the cheapest people, they never gave to charity. I began to give them the benefit of the doubt and said, “You never know what people do privately.” He told me, “I know.” I asked him, “How?” “Well, I was their accountant.” You still never know…

So which is the preferred way of giving to an organization, publically or privately?

The Bobover Rebbe o.b.m. quotes a source which directs us to look at the names of the offspring associated with the tribe of Gad. The first family is Tzafoni – Tzafon means hidden (like when we eat the Afikomen). The second name is Chagi – Chag means celebration which implies celebration and pomp.

There you have it. There are times when the circumstance of the receiver or the nature of the giver is to be private and there are times when the situation renders a more public announcement of who is offering the funds in order to motivate others to give.

The word the Torah uses for giving is V’nasnu. The word ונתנו is a palindrome, it is spelled the same forwards and backwards, hinting to us G-d’s guarantee, that when we give, we will somehow get it back in return!