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HOW THE NUMBERS STAYED THE SAME: A MYSTERY EXPLORED

May 20th, 2015

The Torah portion of Bamidbar is dominated by a detailed census of the Jews taken early on in the second year following the Exodus from Egypt.

The previous census had been conducted just over six months earlier. Puzzlingly, the count was exactly the same. Just after Yom Kippur the total number had been 603,550, and on 1 Iyar – just over 6 months later – they also numbered exactly 603,550.

The commentators, understandably, are extremely puzzled by this curious anomaly. Rabbi Dunner looks at Rashi and Ramban, and then shares the views of Ralbag and Ohr Hachaim, as well as the explanation of the Malbim.

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