What is the significance of specifying "in the wilderness"?
Describe what that would be like for you.
How would you interpret the meaning of "ownerless"?
What does it mean for you to be ownerless?
Note that the English translation does not match the Hebrew for the words שְׂא֗וּ אֶת־רֹאשׁ֙ The exact translation would be: "Raise (or lift up) the heads".
In what ways does the translation change the meaning for you?
How is counting a 'raising up'?
In some communities, it is traditional not to count people:
“Care should be taken not to take a head-count of people to verify whether there is a minyan, because it is forbidden to take a head-count of Jews even for the purpose of a mitzvah. In addition, we are forbidden to ‘count’ for a minyan.”
Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, Siman 15:3
שאו את ראש בני ישראל . The purpose of the count was to enable the שכינה to take up residence among the Jewish people.
Everyone should become aware of his personal value by having been counted. He was encouraged to think that everything depended on his personal activity and contribution.
This is why the sages have said that a person should always consider himself as if mankind's merits and demerits were in perfect balance, and his very next action would tilt the scales giving him a chance to determine the world's fate. A single good deed by him would enable the world to endure (Kiddushin 40).
Shenei Luchot HaBerit, Torah Shebikhtav, Bamidbar, Nasso, Beha'alotcha,Derekh Chayim, Bamidbar 1
“Seeing the world as God’s world requires stepping out of the egocentric perspective.”
Rabbi Yaakov Haber and David Sedley, Sefiros
How do we rectify this paradox?
How are we "ownerless" and "counted" at the same time?
What does this mean for you? For your community?