2 Take a census of the whole Israelite community by the clans of its ancestral houses, listing the names, every male, head by head.
s’-U et ROSH kol a-DAT b’-nay yis-ra-AYL l’-mish-p’-kho-TAM l’-VAYT a-vo-TAM b’-mis-PAR shay-MOT kol za-KHAR l’-gul-g’-lo-TAM
ב שְׂאוּ אֶת־רֹאשׁ כָּל־עֲדַת בְּנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵל לְמִשְׁפְּחֹתָם לְבֵית אֲבֹתָם בְּמִסְפַּר שֵׁמוֹת כָּל־זָכָר לְגֻלְגְּלֹתָם׃
1:2 Take a census of the whole Israelite community
The foremost commandment given by Hashem to Moshe and Aharon in preparation for travel to the Land of Israel is to count the people. This is one of several censuses described in the Bible, and the first of two in Sefer Bamidbar. In fact, the English name of this book, Bamidbar, derives from these two countings. Since the Israelites are heading toward the Promised Land to conquer and settle it, the census serves to inform the leadership of how many soldiers they have available for their army and among how many people the land would then need to be divided. Rashi, however, gives another reason for the count. He explains that Hashem counts His people repeatedly, simply because they are precious to Him. Just as someone with a valuable collection will count its contents over and over, so too Hashem frequently counts His people, to teach us that every individual is precious to Him.