ונתת אתו על עבדת אהל מועד. לָמַדְתָּ שֶׁנִּצְטַוּוּ לִמְנוֹתָם בִּתְחִלַּת נִדְבַת הַמִּשְׁכָּן, אַחַר מַעֲשֵׂה הָעֵגֶל, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁנִּכְנַס בָּהֶם מַגֵּפָה, כְּמוֹ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר וַיִּגֹּף ה' אֶת הָעָם; מָשָׁל לְצֹאן הַחֲבִיבָה עַל בְּעָלֶיהָ שֶׁנָּפַל בָּהּ דֶּבֶר וּמִשֶּׁפָּסַק אָמַר לוֹ לָרוֹעֶה בְּבַקָּשָׁה מִמְּךָ מְנֵה אֶת צֹאנִי וְדַע כַּמָּה נוֹתְרוּ בָהֶם, לְהוֹדִיעַ שֶׁהִיא חֲבִיבָה עָלָיו; וְאִי אֶפְשָׁר לוֹמַר שֶׁהַמִּנְיָן הַזֶּה הוּא הָאָמוּר בְּחֻמַּשׁ הַפְּקוּדִים, שֶׁהֲרֵי נֶאֱמַר בּוֹ בְּאֶחָד לַחֹדֶשׁ הַשֵּׁנִי וְהַמִּשְׁכָּן הוּקַם בְּאֶחָד לַחֹדֶשׁ הָרִאשׁוֹן, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר בְּיוֹם הַחֹדֶשׁ הָרִאשׁוֹן בְּאֶחָד לַחֹדֶשׁ תָּקִים וְגוֹ' (שמות מ'), וּמֵהַמִּנְיָן הַזֶּה נַעֲשׂוּ הָאֲדָנִים – מִשְּׁקָלִים שֶׁלּוֹ – שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר וַיְהִי מְאַת כִּכַּר הַכֶּסֶף לָצֶקֶת וְגוֹ' (שם ל"ח), הָא לָמַדְתָּ שְׁתַּיִם הָיוּ, אֶחָד בִּתְחִלַּת נִדְבָתָן אַחַר יוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים בְּשָׁנָה רִאשׁוֹנָה, וְאַחַת בְּשָׁנָה שְׁנִיָּה בְּאִיָּר מִשֶּׁהוּקַם הַמִּשְׁכָּן. וְאִם תֹּאמַר וְכִי אֶפְשָׁר שֶׁבִּשְׁנֵיהֶם הָיוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל שָׁוִים – ו' מֵאוֹת אֶלֶף וְג' אֲלָפִים וַחֲמֵשׁ מֵאוֹת וַחֲמִשִּׁים – שֶׁהֲרֵי בְכֶסֶף פְּקוּדֵי הָעֵדָה נֶאֱמַר כֵּן, וּבְחֻמַּשׁ הַפְּקוּדִים אַף בּוֹ נֶאֱמַר כֵּן וַיִּהְיוּ כָּל הַפְּקוּדִים שֵׁשׁ מֵאוֹת אֶלֶף וּשְׁלֹשֶׁת אֲלָפִים וַחֲמֵשׁ מֵאוֹת וַחֲמִשִּׁים (במדבר א'), וַהֲלֹא בִשְׁתֵּי שָׁנִים הָיוּ, וְאִ"אֶ שֶׁלֹא הָיוּ בִשְׁעַת מִנְיָן הָרִאשׁוֹן בְּנֵי י"ט שָׁנָה שֶׁלֹּא נִמְנוּ וּבַשְּׁנִיָּה נַעֲשׂוּ בְּנֵי כ'! תְּשׁוּבָה לַדָּבָר: אֵצֶל שְׁנוֹת הָאֲנָשִׁים בְּשָׁנָה אַחַת נִמְנוּ, אֲבָל לְמִנְיַן יְצִיאַת מִצְרַיִם הָיוּ שְׁתֵּי שָׁנִים, לְפִי שֶׁלִּיצִיאַת מִצְרַיִם מוֹנִין מִנִּיסָן, כְּמוֹ שֶׁשָּׁנִינוּ בְמַסֶּ' רֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה (דף ב'), וְנִבְנָה הַמִּשְׁכָּן בָּרִאשׁוֹנָה וְהוּקַם בַּשְּׁנִיָּה, שֶׁנִּתְחַדְּשָׁה שָׁנָה בְּאֶחָד בְּנִיסָן, אֲבָל שְׁנוֹת הָאֲנָשִׁים מְנוּיִין לְמִנְיַן שְׁנוֹת עוֹלָם, הַמַּתְחִילִין מִתִּשְׁרֵי, נִמְצְאוּ שְׁנֵי הַמִּנְיָנִים בְּשָׁנָה אַחַת – הַמִּנְיָן הָרִאשׁוֹן הָיָה בְּתִשְׁרֵי לְאַחַר יֹ"הַכִּ שֶׁנִּתְרַצָּה הַמָּקוֹם לְיִשְׂרָאֵל לִסְלֹחַ לָהֶם וְנִצְטַוּוּ עַל הַמִּשְׁכָּן, וְהַשֵּׁנִי בְּאֶחָד בְּאִיָּר: ונתת אתו על עבדת אהל מועד AND THOU SHALT GIVE IT FOR THE SERVICE OF THE APPOINTED TENT — From this statement you may learn that he (Moses) was commanded to take their census when they began to contribute towards the building of the Tabernacle, after the incident of the golden calf, because the pestilence had befallen them, as it is said, (Exodus 32:35) “and the Lord plagued the people”. A parable: To what may this be compared? To a flock that is dear to its owner upon which there fell pestilence. As soon as it ceased he said to the shepherd, “I beg of you, count my sheep and ascertain how many of them are left”. He did this to show that it (the flock) was dear to him (Midrash Tanchuma, Ki Tisa 9). — It is, however, impossible to say that the census mentioned here is identical with that spoken of in the Book of Numbers (1:1), for there (in Numbers 1:1) Scripture states, “[And God spake to Moses …] on the first day of the second month … [Take ye the sum of all the congregation of the children of Israel etc.]”, whilst the Tabernacle was set up on the first day of the first month as it is said, (Exodus 40:2) “On the first day of the first month shalt thou set up [the Tabernacle etc.]”, and from this census (that mentioned in this paragraph) — from the shekels obtained by it — the sockets used for its boards were made, for it is said, (Exodus 38:27) and of the hundred talents of silver were cast [the sockets of the sanctuary]”. Consequently you learn from this that two censuses were taken, viz., one at the beginning of their contributing towards the Tabernacle, after the Day of Atonement (when Moses first commanded the people to engage in the construction of the Tabernacle; see Rashi on Exodus 33:11, last sentence), in the first year, and the other in the second year, in Iyar, after the Tabernacle had already been set up. If you ask, however: is it at all possible that on both of these occasions the number of the Israelites was exactly the same, viz., 603,550, for in the account of how the silver of those that were numbered of the congregation was used (Exodus 38:27) it is so stated, and in the Book of Numbers (1:46) exactly the same is stated, “Even all they that were numbered were six hundred thousand and three thousand and five hundred and fifty”; were not these censuses taken in two different years, and surely it is impossible that there were not at the time of the first census people nineteen years old who accordingly were not counted and who became twenty years old in the second year when the second census was taken and this must have added to the total?! The reply to this question is: As far as the years of men’s ages are concerned they were counted in the same year, but reckoning from the time of the exodus from Egypt they were two different years in which the censuses were held. For when we speak of a period beginning with the exodus from Egypt, which took place in Nisan, we calculate from Nisan, as we have learned in Treatise Rosh Hashanah 2b. Consequently the Tabernacle was being built in the first year and was erected in the second year, because a new year began on the first of Nisan following the exodus. The years of people’s ages, however, were counted according to the era of the creation of the world which begins with Tishri, consequently from this point of view both censuses took place in the same year: the first in Tishri after the Day of Atonement when the Omnipresent became reconciled with Israel to grant them His pardon and when they received the command regarding the construction of the Tabernacle, and the second on the first of Iyar, so that those who were only 19 years old after the Day of Atonement when the first census was taken, were not yet regarded as twenty in Iyar when the second census was held even though they were born between Tishri and Iyar.
על עבדת אהל מועד. הֵן הָאֲדָנִים שֶׁנַּעֲשׂוּ בוֹ: על עבדת אהל מועד FOR THE SERVICE OF THE APPOINTED TENT — i. e. for the sockets that were made of it (the expiation money).