by Rabbi Abraham J Twerski
The first portion of Bamidbar is generally read before the Shavuot festival, which commemorates the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai. In as much as there are no coincidences, we may assume that this portion is a prerequisite for receiving the Torah.
In relating the episode at Mt. Sinai, the Torah states: “Israelites camped near the mountain” (Exodus 19:2).
However, the Torah uses the singular vayichan, “he camped” rather than vayachanu, “they camped.” Rashi explains that the singular indicated that all the Israelites were united as one person. It is this unity that made them worthy of receiving the Torah.
There is nothing so dear to G-d as unity among His children. So much so, that the Talmud states that when Jews are united, G-d forgives even their greatest sins (Kallah 8).
The message of Bamidbar is the message of unity: “The Children of Israel shall encamp, each person by his banner” (Numbers 2:2). Each person knew his place and was not envious of others. This is why the Torah reading of Bamidbar precedes Shavuot. Unity is the prerequisite for acceptance of the Torah.