This week’s parsha, Parshat Bamidbar, is the opening to a new book of the Torah called Bamidbar or Numbers. This parsha introduces us to the 12 tribes of Israel and their encampment in the desert. Each tribe had a flag in a distinctive color with their tribal symbol (for example, Judah’s symbol is a Lion; Dan’s is a scale, Benjamin’s is a wolf). This parsha provides a good opportunity to talk about how the Jewish community is made up of many different groups that each contribute in different ways.
In this week’s parsha, Parshat Matot, we learn that the tribes of Reuven and Gad owned large flocks of sheep. They requested permission from Moshe to settle on the east bank of the Jordan River so that they would have more land for grazing. Initially, Moshe is angered by this request but they assure him that they would first help settle the Land of Israel before they returned east.
In this week’s parsha, we read about yet another complaint with which the new Jewish nation attacks God and Moshe. Chapter 21 verses 4-5 tell us that Bnei Yisrael are fed up with their travels and complain that there’s “no food or water.”
In this week’s Parsha, Parshat Korach, God commands each tribe to provide a rod and only the tribe chosen to become the priests would miraculously sprout overnight. Only Aaron’s rod, representing the tribe of Levi, “put forth buds, produced blossoms, and bore ripe almonds.” (Bamidbar 17:8). Before starting this craft, you can look at photographs of an almond tree and/or of the flower that has become known as “Aaron’s rod.” You can also discuss where else in the Torah staffs perform miraculous deeds (examples: splitting the red sea, turning into snakes).