discussing the required census of the Jewish people
Take ye the sum of all the congregation of the children of Israel,
by their families, by their fathers' houses, according to the number of names,
every male, by their heads;
Rashi explains the two underlined words, family, heads
by referencing other verses which illuminate these terms.
Rashi explains that By family means By tribe.
Rashi derives this explanation by referencing the immediately
following verses which describe census by tribe:
And these are the names of the men that shall stand with you: of Reuben, Elizur the son of Shedeur.
Of Simeon, Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai. Rashi could also cite Nu26 which present
a census by tribe and subfamily.
Rashi explains the requirement to count by heads
by referencing Ex30-12:13 which describes the
procedure of counting people by counting the half-dollars
that they contribute. The verses explicitly state
When thou takest the sum of the children of Israel, according to their number, then shall they give every man a ransom for his soul unto HaShem, when thou numberest them; that there be no plague among them, when thou numberest them.
This they shall give, every one that passeth among them that are numbered, half a shekel after the shekel of the sanctuary--the shekel is twenty gerahs--half a shekel for an offering to HaShem.
Verse Ex38-26, reviewing this procedure explicitly
states a half dollar per head echoing the reference
to counting by head in Nu01-02. The full text
a beka a head, that is, half a shekel, after the shekel of the sanctuary, for every one that passed over to them that are numbered, from twenty years old and upward, for six hundred thousand and three thousand and five hundred and
Sermonic points: The verse in Numbers
explicitly states count by head. But Rashi thru
a cross reference explains that this means
count by half dollars. All sermonists expound
this the same way: By indirectly counting each person we symbolically
affirm that people are a priceless commodity that cannot
be counted. Here the Torah explicitly rejects the
Malthusian theory that people are economic burdens that
consume more than they produce. On the contrary every person
can creatively expand the economic pie of assets beyond
its fixed boundaries. The more people we produce the more
the world is livable.!