52 The Israelites shall encamp troop by troop, each man with his division and each under his standard.
v’-kha-NU b’-NAY yis-ra-AYL EESH al ma-kha-NAY-hu v’-EESH al dig-LO l’-tziv-o-TAM
נב וְחָנוּ בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אִישׁ עַל־מַחֲנֵהוּ וְאִישׁ עַל־דִּגְלוֹ לְצִבְאֹתָם׃
1:52 Each under his standard
Following the census depicted at the beginning of Bamidbar, the Bible describes the layout of the Israelite camp in the desert. At the center of the camp is the Mishkan, a reminder that Hashem is always at the center of our lives. The Leviim surround the Mishkan, and the remaining tribes, organized into groups of three, surround the Leviim. Each tribe has its own flag featuring an insignia representative of the tribe’s unique character; each group of tribes also possessed a distinctive banner. At the First Zionist Congress in 1897, a flag was needed to represent the new movement being formed. David Wolfsohn, a prominent member of the early Zionist movement, described how he came up with the design they ultimately adopted: “What flag would we hang in the Congress Hall? Then an idea struck me. We [already] have a flag – and it is blue and white. The Tallit (prayer shawl) with which we wrap ourselves when we pray: that is our symbol. Let us take this Tallit from its bag and unroll it before the eyes of Israel and the eyes of all nations. So I ordered a blue and white flag with the Shield of David painted upon it. That is how the national flag, that flew over Congress Hall, came into being.”