Do you know how many words there are in the Torah?


That’s a lot of words! How did they ever count them? In our parashah, if you look in many Humashim, you will see the following note, marking the middle of the Torah:

דָּרֹ֥שׁ *דָּרַ֛שׁ
*חֲצִי הַתּוֹרָה בְּתֵבוֹת
Moshe was inquiring,* and inquired
*Halfway point of words in the Torah
This note is based on the Talmud (Kiddushin 30a), where it says that if you count up all the words in the Torah and divide them in half, you’ll find that the exact middle of the Torah lies right in between these two very similar words in our parashah.
These words are talking about Moshe inquiring what happened to one of the goats that was offered as a sacrifice on the day that the mishkan became fully functional for the first time. Pretty amazing that the middle point of the Torah would be between two nearly identical words, right? And pretty cool that those words are about seeking and asking questions, exactly what we do when we study Torah!
There’s only one problem: if you count all the words of the Torah yourself, you’ll see that the midpoint of words is actually somewhere else! (It’s the word יְסוֹד [yesod, base] in Vayikra 8:15).
R. Yitzhak Zilber suggested that there are 89 times in the Torah when two related words that are spelled exactly the same appear back-to-back, and this is number 45 of those, right in the middle!
This is a special moment in the middle of the Torah for us to think about how much we have already learned and how we have just as much left to go.